A Russian Orthodox priest is accused of embezzling funds from different parishes in another state where he worked over several years. Although a grand jury indicted him on 10 counts of mail fraud, people in Michigan and elsewhere will know that an indictment is no more than a formal charge and accusation of a serious crime. Anyone indicted on federal charges on white collar crimes or other crimes is entitled to a fair trial.
According to court documents, the priest was in various positions, including director, administrator and pastor, at three different religious facilities between 2014 and 2018. The alleged embezzlement totals more than $250,000, made up of approximate amounts of $35,686.97, $70,404.32 and $187,898.38 from the three parishes during his employment there. Furthermore, he is accused of continuing to use a credit card of one of the churches after his termination, spending approximately $2,035.06 on personal expenses.
According to the indictment, the presiding Byzantine Catholic Eparchy of Parma authority provides clear and detailed expenses that priests or administrators may pay from parish accounts. Additional regulations exist for costs paid by priests that the parish would reimburse. Court documents indicate the alleged embezzlement left one of the parishes in financial ruin.
The defendant allegedly used the embezzled funds for payments to automobile dealers, automotive, grocery and department stores. Funds were allegedly also used for payments to online services such as music services, and some payments went to an online sales company for firearms and ammunition. Furthermore, the defendant allegedly purchased two freight storage containers and paid for renting one of the parishes’ hall for events like weddings. According to the indictment, the priest used the United States Postal Service and other commercial and private carriers for the execution of his alleged fraud schemes. Anyone in Michigan facing white collar crimes has a right to a fair trial, and only if and when federal prosecutors can prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt can a defendant be convicted.