The biggest danger is the Karloutsos’ “end game”: they will turn West Palm Beach into a “Hamptons South”, where glitzy events will be organized for “the rich and famous Orthodox and not”, where they will serve materialism galore and where the spirit of Christian faith will be conspicuously absent. In other words, they will apply their concept of turning Churches into “Country Clubs”…
By Nick Stamatakis
Something seems to have gone terribly wrong in the otherwise very peaceful, Greek Orthodox community of Saint Catherine in West Palm Beach. Parishioners are calling and emailing us in desperation for weeks! What is going on? The Metropolis of Atlanta has decided to replace the priest, Fr. Andrew Maginas, age 70, after twenty-eight years of service – productive and fruitful service as the Metropolis admits! For such a drastic action you would think they would put forward some serious “mistakes” or “dysfunction” by the priest. Yet, as you will see from the documents included in this report, there are no such accusations. Instead, their arguments are borderline ridiculous; they are concerned “whether the children participate in the full liturgy until the end, the delivery of Holy Communion…” And when the non-existent allegations did not work, they accused Fr. Andrew, wrongly, of violating a “gag order.” But, when 240 (out of a total 280) parishioners sign a letter to Metropolitan Alexios objecting to Fr. Andrew’s removal, then we all should pay attention. What is really happening in West Palm Beach?
I have spoken to several parishioners recently (full disclosure: my son, Andreas, is one of them for the past two years) and have been listening to their concerns. The truth is that when I first heard that, over a year ago, Mike Karloutsos (and family) has moved in with his mother-in-law who lives in this wealthy area of South Florida, I instantly knew that trouble would soon follow. (I reported on this event when “Papa” Karloutsos, announced his retirement – please link here).
Why did I think that? Because of Mike’s involvement in the Greek medical marijuana legal case, where he is being sued for about $10 million. This is what I said in my report (above): “It is very true that his son Mike’s involvement in yet one more legal case (the Greek medical marijuana case) had exhausted him (“Papa” Karloutsos) at least emotionally. He was seen a few weeks ago in West Palm Beach, where he visited to make arrangements for Mike’s family to move there…. (he) visited the local church to introduce the family to the priest and the parish.” (You can see the legal docs for this case at the bottom of this post).
Recently, “Papa” Karloutsos visited West Palm Beach again, in the company of Michael Psaros. They flew in on Psaros’ private jet and arrived like “Kings” in the Parish’s Greek Festival. While everybody else was participating in the Festival in the usual informal manner, they were treated like celebrities, sat at a “wedding-like” table, and were served “with white gloves” so to speak…
The lawsuit against Mike Karloutsos is still going on and a few months ago it was learned that the Court prohibited Mike from getting the proceeds from the sale of his house in McLean, Virginia (which were put in an escrow account): Obviously, the Court considered the “likelihood of success” of the plaintiffs in this case and wanted to keep some assets for the (at least partial) satisfaction of judgments. Mike had bought the house a few years ago, for about $1 million, when he was appointed as an “Etiquette Director” at the State Dept. and he sold it last year for $1.8 million when his career at the State Dept. proved to be very short-lived. His financial situation is described as desperate: the legal fees are accumulating, at the same time as his income is limited. The fact that he lives with his in-laws (in West Palm Beach) says it all…
But it seems that a part of the Karloutsos “Clan” that has been living in West Palm Beach for many years had already started “antagonizing” (to put it mildly) Fr. Andrew Maginas. It looks that they have a small group around them and were pushing for a long time to remove Fr. Andrew. What does the Karloutsos “Gang” want to do? Allegedly, they want to bring to Florida Fr. Nicholas, now in the Manhattan Cathedral… And it seems that they plan to re-organize the Church. When I heard that, recently, a wealthy parishioner bequeathed to the parish a $1.5 million donation, I knew that this would attract some attention from the Karloutsos “Gang”. They would grab the opportunity thinking: “This is too much money to handle for a parish with just a $500,000 annual budget” …
Above: Fr. Nicholas Karloutsos
In essence, they want to practice the “family business” in West Palm Beach”: Attract donations (not only to the parish but to the Foundations they control – “Patriarch Bartholomew Foundation” is one of them) and get a 15% “commission” (no one is sure exactly how much is the “commission” – in itself unacceptable in our Church: if they want commission they should enter politics), as “Papa” Karloutsos is doing for decades, create an income for themselves through the local parish, get in touch with local politicians and provide their “services” to them, etc… Mike’s wife, Anastasia, is already the secretary of the parish council. The hostile takeover is well underway… (Below Anastasia’s poster as a candidate for Fairfax County, VA, School Board, where her “gig” also failed)…
The biggest danger is the Karloutsos “end game”: they will turn West Palm Beach into a “Hamptons South”, where glitzy events will be organized for “the rich and famous Orthodox and not”, where they will serve materialism galore and where the spirit of Christian faith will be conspicuously absent. In other words, they will apply their concept of turning Churches into “Country Clubs”…
Why the Metropolis thinks that Karloutsos’ “business plan” would fit any parish is inconceivable to me. Yes, Fr. Nicholas Karloutsos (who now serves in the Manhattan Cathedral and allegedly would be moving to West Palm Beach) enjoys a good reputation and so does Fr. Constantine in the Hamptons. Beyond the two of them, the whole family is corrupt beyond description: Members of the family have been sentenced, are under investigation, or are being sued for millions!.. Papa Karloutsos himself seems to be the main target of the federal investigation about GOARCH finances still going for 5 years (we are still waiting to see if Jerry Dimitriou, (who has made a plea-bargain deal with the Feds) will talk. Mike Karloutsos, and his brother-in-law were involved in the Philadelphia restaurant scandal and his brother-in-law (Anastasia’s brother) served jail time for embezzlement and tax evasion – (he took all the blame so that the “name” Karloutsos escape intact. Then more recently, Mike himself was sued for $10 million in the infamous Greek medical marijuana case…. When and where this “mafia-like” family will stop? The whole family made millions on GOARCH payroll which they did not deserve – it’s time for ALL of them to MOVE ON!!
Returning to the removal of the priest, it seems to be a “standard practice” for the Metropolis of Atlanta: St. Catherine’s at Naples, Florida had priests removed on the advice of wealthy donors, one of them recently. It left the local parish devastated and many never stepped back into the Church. The same is about to happen now in West Palm Beach…
This is not the way to deal with anyone’s life and profession, especially a Priest and even more particularly an Orthodox priest. Our Orthodox Church is known to be organized based on synodical principles. Parish Councils should be consulted when a new priest comes in and they should be consulted about the removal of a priest. Our Hierarchs are not Byzantine Emperors, and they are not Sultans, despite the best efforts of the Constantinople Patriarchate recently.
Especially in the case of Fr. Andrew Maginas who for three decades has served this community, has baptized, married, and laid to rest most parish members and their families and has touched the lives of several who devoted themselves to life in the Church. When 240 out of 280 members of this parish put their signatures on a letter that is ignored by the Metropolis, the next step is to seek the Archbishop’s intervention. The fact of the matter is we are dealing more with a fatherly figure for this community than a priest.
We know this is too much to ask from a church that lacks a Charter currently (in addition to the complete absence of rules of transparency and accountability) but there should be a system for the re-assignment of priests, including re-training programs and retirement planning. But at the center of this system should be the expressed will of the parish he serves: If a priest has the overwhelming “external good testimony” (“έξωθεν καλήν μαρτυρίαν»), and the overwhelming support of the parishioners then his removal is not the right thing to do.
We are truly hoping that this unfair decision will be reversed for the benefit of this beautiful community and the Church in general. The Greek-American community is done with the Karloutsos family: We need to take our Church back and make it a Christ-centered Church again.
DISCLAIMER: The views and statements expressed in this article constitute constitutionally protected opinions of this author.
DOCUMENTS RELATED TO THE EVENTS DESCRIBED ABOVE:
- LETTER OF THE METROPOLIS TO THE PARISH – FEB 17, 2022 WEST PALM BEACH – METROPOLIS OF ATLANTA LETTER_20220307_0001
- LETTER OF THE PARISH COUNCIL PRESIDENT TO THE PARISHIONERS FEB 22, 2022 WEST PALM BEACH – PARISH COUNCIL LETTER_20220307_0001
- LETTER TO METROPOLIS AND THE ARCHBISHOP WEST PALM BEACH – LETTER TO THE METROPOLITS AND THE ARCHBISHOP_20220307_0001
LEGAL DOCUMENTS REGARDING MIKE KARLOUTSOS
- CHALEPLIS VS. KARLOUTSOS ET ALS COMPLAINT – GREEK MEDICAL MARIJUANA CASE CHALEPLIS VS. KARLOUTSOS COMPLAINT
- MIKE KARLOUTSOS ET ALS RICO STATEMENT MIKE KARLOUTSOS ET ALS RICO STATEMENT
- ONE WORLD LLC ET ALS. VS ONUFRIADIS ET ALS.One World LLC et al v. Onoufriadis et al