Former Greek Orthodox Church official charged with embezzling funds
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The former head administrator of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America has been arrested and charged with embezzling funds.

Authorities announced the arrest of former Executive Director of Administration Jerome Dimitriou, 55, Monday, alleging he embezzled almost half a million dollars from the church. He was charged with two counts of wire fraud.

Dimitriou headed the administration between 2000 and 2017 and is accused of using the church’s credit card to fund personal expenses like $61,000 in family airfare, iTunes charges, a gym membership and various retail shopping, according to the release. Between 2013 and September 2017, officials said he received salary payouts totaling $488,000.

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During his tenure, the archdiocese was raising money to erect a new church and St. Nicholas National Shrine, as part of a $50 million project. The new church and shrine were intended to replace a building destroyed on 9/11. The church ran out of money for the project in 2017, Religion News Service reported.

Manhattan federal prosecutors say Dimitriou took unauthorized money from the archdiocese even though he was “well aware” it was experiencing financial difficulties.

“As the executive director of a non-profit religious organization, Jerome Dimitriou was supposed to serve the organization, not himself,” U.S. Attorney Geoffrey Berman said in a statement. “As alleged, over several years, he abused his leadership position and embezzled over half a million dollars through two different schemes.”

Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael Neff said the amount of money prosecutors say Dimitriou embezzled is expected to increase, “perhaps significantly” throughout the investigation, according to Religion News Service.

The archdiocese said in a statement that an investigation found there was “no evidence of any theft of any kind against St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church and National Shrine.” 

Thus, the alleged embezzlement that Mr. Dimitriou has been charged with today appears to be unrelated to St. Nicholas,” the archdiocese said in a statement.

--Updated at 10:55 a.m.