The former executive director of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese in America was arrested in New York City on Monday on charges he embezzled more than $500,000 from the church, prosecutors say.
Jerome Dimitriou is charged in court papers filed in federal court in Manhattan with running two separate embezzlement schemes beginning in 2011.
Dimitriou, 55, of Greenlawn, NY, is charged with two federal counts of wire fraud. Each count carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison, prosecutors say.
“As the executive director of a non-profit religious organization, Jerome Dimitriou was supposed to serve the organization, not himself,” said U.S. Attorney Geoffrey S. Berman. “As alleged, over several years, he abused his leadership position and embezzled over half a million dollars through two different schemes.”
In one scheme, Dimitriou is accused of charging tens of thousands of dollars in personal expenses to his church-issued credit card. The expenses included airline travel for his family, a gym membership, iTunes charges, and retail purchases.
In the second scheme, Dimitriou is charged with directing subordinates to issue him excess salary and paychecks without authorization of church officials from 2013 to 2017, totaling almost $500,000, court papers say.
Dimitrou appeared in court Monday afternoon but did not enter a plea before being released on $150,000 bond.
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.
Archdiocese of America fully committed to financial transparency
In a statement, the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America (GOARCH) said that it 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 statement says.
It adds that the charges against Dimitriou are unrelated to the Shrine of St. Nicholas, the Greek Orthodox church at Manhattan’s Ground Zero.
“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,” the statement says.
“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,” it adds.
The statement concludes by saying that “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.”