New York.- (GreekNewsOnline)
Little more than two years after his resignation as Executive Director of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America, former Executive Director Jerome (Jerry) Dimitriou was arrested on Monday and charged by the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York for embezzlement of over $488,000 from the Church.
At an initial appearance before Magistrate Judge Robert W. Lehrburger, Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael Neff argued unsuccessfully for Dimitriou to be subjected to minimally restrictive electronic monitoring while he awaits trial. Neff said the amount of money the government alleges Dimitriou embezzled from the church was expected to rise, “perhaps significantly,” as the investigation proceeds.
He also said the 3½ years in prison federal sentencing guidelines would recommend if Dimitriou eventually pleaded guilty would only rise as the amount of money alleged to have been stolen grows.
Neff said Dimitriou had considerable assets and the means to flee, if he chose to do so. There was solid documentation for the fraud, he said, because Dimitriou left behind a paper trail that includes financial and corporate records along with emails confirming illegal expenditures.
It was, the prosecutor said, “a straightforward scam and a highly profitable one.”
Nathaniel Z. Marmur, Dimitriou’s lawyer, said his client worked at the church for 30 years until 2017. Dimitriou, who now works as a consultant, looks forward to fighting the charges, he said.
“Jerry has dedicated his entire life to the church, and we look forward to all the facts coming to light,” Marmur said.
Jerry Dimitriou is the second former officer of the Archdiocese charged with embezzlement.
On October 31, 2019, former Chief Financial Officer of the Archdiocese George Papadakos have plead guilty for pilfering $66,499 on credit card charges, but served no jail. Papadakos had used a corporate credit card to purchase a gym membership, renovate his New Jersey Home and make purchases on iTunes.
THE U.S ATTORNEY
On Monday, November 25, U.S Attorney for the Southern District of New York, Geoffrey S. Berman and Ruth M. Mendonça, the Assistant Inspector in Charge of the New York Office of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service (“USPIS”), announced the arrest of JEROME DIMITRIOU, the former executive director of a non-profit religious organization (“Organization-1”), on wire fraud charges. Specifically, DIMITRIOU is charged with committing two embezzlement schemes: In one, he allegedly embezzled more than $488,000 from Organization-1 by directing subordinates to issue him unauthorized excess salary payments; in the other, he allegedly charged hundreds of personal expenses to his Organization-1 credit card, without authorization, costing Organization-1 at least tens of thousands of dollars. DIMITRIOU will be presented today in federal court in the Southern District of New York before United States Magistrate Judge Robert W. Lehrburger.
U.S. Attorney Geoffrey S. Berman stated: “As the executive director of a non-profit religious organization, Jerome Dimitriou was supposed to serve the organization, not himself. As alleged, over several years, he abused his leadership position and embezzled over half a million dollars through two different schemes. This Office is committed to protecting non-profit organizations from those who allegedly steal rather than serve.”
USPIS Assistant Inspector in Charge Ruth M. Mendonça said: “Mr. Dimitriou allegedly used his position of trust at a religious organization to steal from his employer. His undoing came when Postal Inspectors used their trusted and sworn law enforcement position to bring him to justice.”
According to the allegations in the Complaint unsealed:
From in or around 2000 until late 2017, JEROME DIMITRIOU was the executive director of Organization-1. While serving as executive director, DIMITRIOU engaged in at least two separate, long-running embezzlement schemes. One of his fraud schemes involved his unauthorized use of an Organization-1 credit card to pay for at least hundreds of personal expenses. For instance, from in or around May 2011 through in or around September 2017, DIMITRIOU charged the following to his Organization-1 credit card: at least approximately 204 charges for airline travel with his family (who were not employed by Organization-1); at least approximately 552 iTunes charges; at least approximately 71 charges for a gym membership at David Barton Gym; and at least approximately 44 retail charges, including at such stores as Sears, Home Depot, CVS, Duane Reade, Walgreens, and Vitamin Shoppe. The value of the airline travel with his family, for instance, was at least approximately $61,286.20.
Another of DIMITRIOU’s fraud schemes involved directing subordinates to issue him excess salary and paychecks, over many years, without the authorization or approval of Organization-1. During just 2013 through September 2017, for instance, the total value of these excess salary and paychecks was at least approximately $488,290. During the period of DIMITRIOU’s embezzlement schemes, Organization-1 was enduring financial difficulties, a fact of which DIMITRIOU was well aware.
* * *
DIMITRIOU, 55, of Greenlawn, New York, is charged with two counts of wire fraud, each of which carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison. The statutory maximum sentences are prescribed by Congress and are provided here for informational purposes only, as any sentencing of the defendant will be determined by the judge.
Mr. Berman praised USPIS for its outstanding work on this case and noted that the investigation is ongoing.
This matter is being handled by the Office’s Complex Frauds and Cybercrime Unit. Assistant United States Attorneys Michael D. Neff and Michael C. McGinnis are in charge of the prosecution.
 As the introductory phrase signifies, the entirety of the text of the Complaint and the description of the Complaint set forth below constitute only allegations, and every fact described should be treated as an allegation.
Statement from the Archdiocese Regarding
the Arrest of Jerome “Jerry” Dimitriou
Today, we learned that the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, and the New York Office of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service (“USPIS”), announced the arrest of Jerome “Jerry” Dimitriou, former Executive Director of Administration for the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America (GOARCH).
According to the Justice Department’s website, Dimitriou was charged on wire fraud charges for committing two embezzlement schemes: 1) where he allegedly embezzled more than $488,000 from GOARCH by directing subordinates to issue him unauthorized excess salary payments; and 2) where he allegedly charged hundreds of personal expenses to his GOARCH credit card, without authorization, costing GOARCH at least tens of thousands of dollars.
The Greek Orthodox Archdiocese first became aware of these financial irregularities in late 2017. GOARCH immediately self-reported its discoveries to governmental authorities and cooperated with the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, and the Inspector-in-Charge of the New York Office of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service on their investigation.
The Special Investigative Committee formed by GOARCH that included the law firm of Baker Hostetler and PriceWaterhouseCoopers Advisory Services LLC formed to review the finances of St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church and National Shrine found no evidence of any theft of any kind against St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church and National Shrine. GOARCH publicly posted these results on its website in 2018. Thus, the alleged embezzlement that Mr. Dimitriou has been charged with today appears to be unrelated to St. Nicholas.
GOARCH has had a review of its finance function performed by an independent accounting firm and its Audit Committee to ensure the highest levels of governance, segregation of duties and authorization of expenditures.
GOARCH is committed to full transparency with its faithful and with governmental authorities, and will continue to cooperate fully with them with respect to Mr. Dimitriou’s arrest.
Shortly after he resigned
Dimitriou started threats
Jerry Dimitriou resigned on September 8, 2017. Archbishop Demetrios Geron of America announced Dimitriou’s resignation “with regret” stating that “Mr. Dimitriou is leaving the Archdiocese in order to pursue other professional opportunities.”
The announcement also said that “Mr. Dimitriou came to the Archdiocese in 1987 as the Associate Director of Economic Development. In 2000, under Archbishop Demetrios, he became Executive Director of Administration. During his lengthy service to the Archdiocese under three Archbishops, Mr. Dimitriou contributed in a most significant way to the improvements of the Archdiocese ministries and operations. The Archdiocese thanks Mr. Dimitriou for his 27 years of service to our Holy Church and, most especially, for his tireless devotion to and administrative oversight of the re-building of St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church and National Shrine at the World Trade Center.”
Immediately after Dimitriou’s resignation the Archdiocese began an extensive audit. In January 2018, he has sent a letter to Archbishop Demetrios ending with the warning that he is “not prepared to do is to remain silent and permit myself to be the scapegoat.”
“I have watched as a difficult financial situation became a crisis for our Church – completely avoidable – because the good members of the legal and finance committees acted on misleading financial information supplied to them by those too far divorced from the process to understand it and the information they were supplying to their committees.
I challenge the false claims and the false numbers that have been irresponsibly leaked to the press and would like them to be corrected, verified and then properly and fully released to the public.
Your Eminence, I am a son of my Archdiocese and have spent almost my entire professional career serving my Church, my Archdiocese, Archbishop Iakovos and Your Eminence. I have given my life protecting my Church, my Archdiocese and my Archbishops! The last place I want to be is on the opposite side of my Archdiocese. You know my heart and you know my commitment to my Church. I am pleading with you to allow me the opportunity to clear my name and to provide clarity and understanding of the finances of our Archdiocese for those who don’t understand them.
I repeat: I was and am fully prepared to share my full and complete knowledge of the finances of the Archdiocese and the rebuilding of St. Nicholas in the framework of a fair and objective process that has as its aim the truth. What I am not prepared to do is to remain silent and permit myself to be the scapegoat.
In September 2017 Archbishop Demetrios had fired another prominent figure for the finances of the Archdiocese, Archdiocesan Finance Committee Chairman George Vourvoulias, after it was discovered for receiving $900,000 from the Archdiocese in a ten year period for travel expenses, although he was holding a volunteer position.