By Nick Stamatakis
For the past few months, Helleniscope and I personally have been the objective of an unfair legal battle from the mafia-like organization which was running the Astoria St.Demetrios community for the past four decades. Two of the “kingpins” of this organization, at the same time as a new generation of leaders has taken over trying to clean up the mess in the parish and its school, have decided to go against us for supposedly “defamatory” statements we made against them from this website. Yes, my friends, the “Mafiosi” who for decades exploited – devastated – the St.Demetrios of Astoria parish are accusing us of defamation.
The many Greek-Americans who support Helleniscope and I personally will fight this – totally unwarranted – battle. In a first appearance, on August 11, 2020, the Court recognized our “free speech” rights, as well as the quality of our journalism. And declared that the first plaintiff, Koularmanis, “has no likelihood of success”, should the case proceed to trial. Yet the mafia-like organization keeps filing new lawsuits, this time with a new plaintiff, Costas Eliades, the second of the “Three Stooges” used like pawns by the “godfather”, Nick Andriotis, to run the parish and the school. (By the way the term “Three Stooges” was first used by Andriotis himself to describe derogatorily another set of “his assistants/puppets”).
What are the common goals of the lawsuits by Andriotis’ puppets? They are hoping:
1) To intimidate us.
2) To intimidate the new leaders who are trying to bring change to our community’s affairs and to make their efforts harder by damaging the School (would you put your child in a school where a past Parish President found it “appropriate to have an affair with the PTA president, a married woman? – what does this say about the “management culture” at that school?) Who benefits and who loses by reminding the public NOW of an illicit affair that was almost forgotten?
3) To scare anybody else in the media who would oppose them and any one of the community members who would dare participate and take in their hands the parish’s affairs.
There is another, “hidden goal”, in their efforts: To create a smokescreen as they continue their predatory rackets elsewhere – this applies mainly to Koularmanis. Recently, complaints have come to my attention from the parish of Corona, Queens. AB Elpidophoros installed A.Koularmanis as President there over two years ago and we have been hearing rumors of the same behavior he had displayed in Astoria. Helleniscope will not be intimidated. We will investigate the situation and we will publish our findings just as we did with Astoria.
Helleniscope is the true voice of the community, the voice of the truth. The Greek-American community during the last few decades did not have a consistently truthful voice among its press outlets. The few journalists who made an effort “to speak truth to power” (and in our case “power” has to do with the community and church governance) were either discredited, silenced, or marginalized in various ways. This is how we reached the point of the GOA and St. Nicholas at Ground Zero project to be – and they still are!! – under federal criminal investigation. These federal investigators are well aware of the Astoria situation. How can they ignore it, the moment ALMA (owned partly by Andriotis) holds a mortgage at the 79th street GOA headquarters? If and when they will get closer to examining St.Demetrios of Astoria’s affairs is their choice.
In the meantime, after more than two years, our efforts finally brought some positive change in Astoria recently. Last May, for the first time in its 100-yr history, GOA sent a letter of warning against “conflicts of interest” to the Astoria parish. Never before anything similar had been sent to any of its 500 parishes – and it was a direct result of our numerous articles! And in January 2021 a new generation of leaders assumed power with the installation of the new Parish Council and they are trying to restore some semblance of normalcy, as they are finding their way in the total chaos they inherited by the Andriotis “gang”. During this difficult effort against a real “gang”, Helleniscope recognized that the Astoria parish is part of our Church and in Church, all problems are solved with forgiveness and by focusing on the future. We deeply believe in these basic Christian principles and we intend to practice them every step of the way. But make no mistake: We will NEVER keep silent when faced with abuse of power, immorality, and corruption.