March 22, 2013
The parish council of Saint Demetrios Greek Orthodox Church in Jamaica, NY would like to respond to the latest series of unsubstantiated allegations of directorial misconduct, mismanagement, tax evasion and fraud made by certain disgruntled members of our community, which have recently been reported by the American and Greek press. In an attempt to hide their own shortcomings, these members are attacking the Church directly in an attempt to create chaos during the Paschal season and to carry out their personal vendettas against those individuals who actually contribute to and help the Church. All they have accomplished is to stain the Church’s reputation without justification.
We are disappointed that the once credible National Herald has resorted to tabloid reporting by allowing Mr. Kalmoukos to continue to peddle his anti-Church, anti-Archdiocese and anti-Christian rhetoric. Neglecting to perform the due diligence required by legitimate journalism, he consistently reports unsubstantiated facts calculated to paint our community in a negative light. For example, he consistently quotes from and presents allegations from a rogue audit report that was not approved by the General Assembly (the highest legislative body in the organization), while conspicuously failing to cite the positive audit report that was approved by that same body which empowered the audit committee.
The New York Post is also guilty of one-sided reporting and presenting false facts as truth. We would ask the Post’s editors to investigate why Ms. Goldenberg repeatedly claimed in her article of September 10, 2012, that our Church owns the discount store on Parsons Blvd. We ask which “records show the 85-year-old church has owned the store since 2004.” In fact, the Church neither owns nor operates any store at all, and never has; the Church is the property owner that leases the building to a tenant which runs a 99-cent store. We find such blatant lies shameful, where such facts could have easily been verified had the “reporters” taken the time to do their jobs.
Further, in a most unethical fashion, Ms. Vincent and Ms. Klein of the Post reported on March 17, 2013, inter alia, that a contractor’s company received hundreds of thousands of dollars from the insurance company “according to a parishioner who saw the cancelled checks.” It defies logic that anyone could have seen cancelled checks that were deposited into an account not their own.
An exhaustive independent audit was recently completed, presented to and approved by our General Assembly. It included the iconography project which has been the subject of so much contention. The audit committee stated that they found all monies properly deposited and accounted for, and that all the books and financials were found to be in order. The Church’s financial ledgers and records are also examined yearly and reported on by an outside CPA, and they have always been found to be in order. We hope that this finally puts to rest the frivolous accusations of impropriety that have been circulating.
As respects the question of property taxes due and owing to The City Of New York, the Church has always fully discharged its financial liabilities in a timely fashion. In fact, with the exception of the current tax period, it was only last month that the Church received a property tax bill on the property that houses the discount store, after having a zero balance. This bill showed no penalties or interest, reinforcing the fact that there was no wrongdoing on the part of the Church or any of its officers. The Church is making arrangements to pay this bill and has never denied or disputed its existence, despite the turns of the rumor mill.
We hope that these truths are reported with the same vigor with which the sensationalistic misinformation was presented to the public. We pray that these individuals will clear the name of our Church with the same zeal that they have besmirched it. Do we have issues that remain to be resolved? Of course we do, as does every other religious and charitable organization, and we are addressing these issues to the extent that our limited resources allow as we pray for guidance. We take our sacred trust and fiduciary duty most seriously, and we condemn those who would use the Church as a vehicle for their own earthly glory.
The Members of the Parish Council of
Saint Demetrios Greek Orthodox Church, Jamaica, NY