KNOXVILLE, TN – The treasurer of the St. George Greek Orthodox parish of Knoxville TN, Constantine Christodoulou has reportedly embezzled in excess of $360,000 from the Church’s accounts for his own use, leaving the parish with only $2,000. The parish took on a bank loan of $150,000 in order to continue to function.
The theft was revealed in a Feb. 26 letter to parishioners by Rev. Anthony Stratis, the presiding priest, and the Parish Council (PC).
The letter, which TNH has read, states that “the very idea of a fellow hardworking member of St. George involved in such a diabolically-based scheme brings each of us serious heartache, amidst other emotions.”
Fr. Stratis and PC President John Peroulas did not respond to TNH’s request for comment. On March 16, PC member Mike Nassios contacted TNH on their behalf to state that “there is no comment.” a member of the parish council called on their behalf to tell us that “there is no comment.” At press time, TNH also had not received comments from Christodoulou.
The letter also states: “We have learned that Constantine Christodoulou, while he held the office of Treasurer, acting unilaterally and unbeknownst to us all, calculatingly managed to squeeze church funds away to address personal interests. There is no indication that anyone else was involved; he acted unilaterally and whittled away at the Church treasury at a slow, deliberate rate, on a continual basis throughout his four-year term, and funneled church funds to personal accounts while covering up his deeds.
“Constantine has admitted to his mishandling of up to $360,000 all for personal use. An external audit will be done to determine, among other findings, the actual amount that was siphoned over the course of his four years (2011-2014) as Treasurer…When irregularities appeared, rationalizations were given; when questions arose, a spirit of trust prevented more intense inquiry. Until finally, too many alarms indicated unquestionably that a breach had occurred.
“It is certainly difficult to ask a community of hard-working, dedicated, and faithful members to turn around and start all over again because of the actions of one individual. However, we should remind ourselves that the need is here; it is time to address that need. We should also remember that each one of us thirsts for God’s great mercy, therefore we must be merciful ourselves.”
In a March 15 letter to parishioners, Peroulas wrote “we have engaged an attorney to represent St. George in this situation and counsel, in turn, has retained an investigative agent to act on our behalf. The investigator has, of course, been provided with information pertinent to our situation. We have also contacted and filed a claim with our insurance carrier.”
From St. George’s website we learned that the beginning of the Greek Orthodox community in Knoxville dates back to approximately 1915 with the arrival of the Nicola Cazana family. Soon afterwards, many other Greek families migrated to the East Tennessee area. Some of the original founders and their families remain and are a vital part of the community today.Source: The National Herald