EDITOR’S NOTE: It’s a sad day for our Church and community when a priest is arrested for multiple thefts from his parish’s bank account – up to $117,000… He is Fr. George Athanasiou of Canonsburg, PA, near Pittsburg.  Metropolitan Savvas immediately removed him from his duties…

=========================

===============

Canonsburg priest arrested, facing hundreds of felony charges for theft of over $117,000 in parish funds

CANONSBURG (KDKA) — An assistant priest in Washington County is facing more than 200 felony charges related to the alleged theft of over $117,000 in parish funds.

North Strabane police charged Father George Athanasiou, 38, of All Saints Greek Orthodox Church, off West McMurray Road in Canonsburg, Wednesday on 223 counts of theft by unlawful taking, forgery, bad checks, and access device usage.

kdka-all-saints-greek-orthodox-church-father-george-athanasiou.jpg
ALL SAINTS GREEK ORTHODOX CHURCH

According to court records, Athanasiou is accused of embezzling more than $117,000 from the church’s bank account. They say it started as early as April 2022 and continued through this month.

A bio, since removed from the church’s website, said he’s worked there for nearly five years. It also said Athanasiou began his ministry as a Pastoral Assistant in 2019. In 2020, he was ordained to the Holy Priesthood.

In a letter, church leadership said Athanasiou is suspended without pay pending the investigation.

The criminal complaint said North Strabane police met with church leadership on Nov. 20, 2023, who told them sometime around Sept. 2023 they realized “bank checks were missing” and “deposited into an unauthorized PNC Bank account.”

Police say that Athanasiou was the only person during this timeframe who had a PNC ATM card, and a search of his apartment led to the discovery of the card.

Church leadership said the father was the only church member with the ATM card, but he “would not be permitted to take, sign, or deposit… checks into that PNC account… and would have no legitimate reason to withdraw sums of the church’s money from ATMs.”

Police said PNC bank records, video and evidence recovered from the father’s apartment show Athanasiou is the person responsible.

When investigators talked to the assistant priest, he “admitted to stealing the money due to personal hardships.”

Athanasiou told police that he would take church checks, sign the back of them, and then deposit them into his account before transferring it to another account and taking cash out of that account through an ATM. He also told police he knew he was not authorized to do this.

Washington County District Attorney Jason Walsh said they’re still adding up the total amount stolen but wants folks to know no matter who you are, if you commit a crime, it will be investigated.

“Someone who is put in a position of trust, a fiduciary position, with the members of a church and abuses that trust, it is absolutely sad,” Walsh said.

When it comes to getting the money back to the church, the DA had this to say.

“Our goals in any prosecution is to make victims of crimes whole, so we work towards that goal in this case, like we do in every case,” Walsh said.

In a letter to the church, the Greek Orthodox Metropolis of Pittsburgh called the news “deeply distressing…” and said “Father George is a beloved member of our families, and we must pray for him and for all those affected by this situation.”

Court documents show that Athanasiou was placed on an unsecured bond of $250,000 and a preliminary hearing is scheduled for December 18.

5 COMMENTS

  1. This is the result of poor talent management , lack of standards and persistent monitoring. The Metropolitans have no clue how to manage their cadre of parish priests, nor do they have the professional skills or demeanor to do so.

    What’s needed?
    1. Annual 360 degree evaluations
    2. Random substance testing
    3. Financial disclosure forms annually and background reports throughout a career.
    4 Weight standards. Mandatory wellness programs
    5. Mandatory on-line leadership, financial, business, fundraising, ministry training
    6. Psychological evals and available on line therapy.
    7. Well defined remedial and recovery processes and programs for failing priests
    8. Enforcement of these standards and penalties for failure to comply.

    To my knowledge, none of this exists now, so it’s just sloppy management at best.

  2. This was a good introduction, but where’s the 2nd half of the article?
    Where is the next part beginning with the introduction that Metropolitan Savas is showing the example of applying the Canons in cases where clergy “dip into the bowl” that doesn’t belong to them?
    What then should be done with other clergymen who “dipped into” other restricted accounts and funds over the years, but who seem to have been promoted instead, or are still sitting upon their thrones after the scandals were exposed?

    • Durham report : FBI and Justice Department colluded with members of the Democratic Party and Media to promote a campaign of disinformation that Russia Federation colluded with Donald Trump …elected President of the United State in 2016 to interfere and meddle in the elections and democracy of the United States and responsible for Hillary Clinton and the democratic party defeat! The accusations led to impeachment hearings callled Russia Gate which proved that all allegation where false by the FBI and Justice Department!
      The House Judiciary committee has begun investigation of FBI And Justice Department collusion with U.S government officials of the Joe Biden Administration to be weaponized to prosecute political opponents of the Biden administration and Democratic ruling party !
      State department and Justice Department : Accuse Orthodox Christian Churches of Ukraine and Russia of being foreign Agensts of Russia spreading Russian Propaganda underming Government and democracy of Ukraine leading to the arrest of Orthodox Clergy and Monks arrest and imprisonemnt and banning of Ukrainian Orthodox Church from Ukraine !
      Markos ..the 2nd half of the article …should be whether Metropolitan Savas and Epi and Bart .are continuing to purge with the FBI and State department any clergy of the Orthodox Church who oppose their rule and policies ! Unfortunately , nobody beleives the FBI or Justice Department or the Greek Archdiocese of America! And that is why ..they all must go!

  3. More information should be included concerning the notorious George Athanasiou.

    The son of an Archon, the brother of another priest (Father Andrew Athanasiou), the spiritual son of Father Nicholas Triantifilou (former President of HCHC). The tragic story here is that the blame should be on the parish council for not having proper checks and balances with their accounts. Why would they even allow a priest to have access?

    Why did they wait so long to confront Father George? Why did the Parish Council wait over a year to contact the Metropolis concerning this embezzlement accusation?

    It seems that Father George needed an extra 5k a month for some very extravagant living expenses as a single man living in Pennsylvania. Perhaps he was giving it to the poor or being charitable. We will likely never know, but I think Metropolitan Savas owes the Church an apology for allowing one of his misjudgments (to ordain Athanasiou) to embarrass the entire Greek Orthodox Church and the Omogenia! Metropolitan Savas knew of George Athanasiou weaknesses and yet still never kept them in check.

    This event, along with the death of Father George Livanos, will surely cause the All Saints Community to be the latest parish to collapse and fall into disarray.

    The glory days of All Saints Greek Orthodox Church in Canonsburg are in the past. How can a young person ever trust a priest again?

  4. Greeks generally disparage and suspect priests unless they themselves are truly pious people.
    Especially the communists that emigrated here-
    That said, some priests will violate the code of conduct, but it’s not fair to say that all priest are like that. It’s like with any other job or profession there will always be a few bad apples.

    What I have observed is the bishops love, young, overweight, and unmarried Greek boys- promote them like crazy!! A little nepotism and favoritism helps too!

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here