Former Secretary of OCA, Paul Hunchak Confirms Wheeler Allegations
by Mark Stokoe
Paul Hunchak, former Corporate Secretary of the OCA (1995-2000) and long-time Assistant to the Chancellor (1993-2000) confirmed in a telephone interview with OCANews.org this evening that the allegations of financial misconduct made by former OCA Treasurer Eric Wheeler are indeed accurate.
“Let’s just say that during the latter part of my employment, Fr. Kondratick and his advisors would invoke the First Amendment, the same way others invoke the Fifth”, a disgusted Hunchak said, as he verified, what in his words was a long-standing “pattern of financial (mis)management” at the OCA headquarters.
Hunchak paints a frightening picture of lawlessness: of Fr. Kondratick shredding files in July 1999 to forestall any investigation into misuse of bequest funds; of Kondratick friends and Las Vegas businessmen, Richard Rock and William Turbey, orchestrating a cover-up behind the scenes of the 1999 Pittsburgh Council by duping the Holy Synod into sequestering “discretionary accounts”; of the smuggling of tens of thousands of dollars into Russia to purchase influence; and of concerns for undisclosed purchases of property.
In explaining how it all came about, Hunchak cites the infamous Deep Throat: “Like Mr. Felt said: Follow the money.” Hunchak explains: “Just think about this scenario ...you could deposit checks written out to the “Russian Orthodox Greek Catholic Church” into an account, spend it on yourself or your friends, since “you raised the money” and are entitled to determine its use – and nobody is the wiser. The government won’t determine if these funds are not being used for charitable purposes and therefore subject to income tax. And the Church won’t know the existence of these funds since they are “discretionary” and therefore not subject to anyone’s oversight.” (Editor’s note: $4 million+ donated to the OCA by the ADM corporation between 1993-1999 were listed as being given to “The Russian Orthodox Greek Catholic Church” - the former name of the Orthodox Church in America.)
Hunchak continued: “They are abusing us all, and nobody in the Church seems to care. I think the bishops, clergy and laity really had no idea how many millions were involved; and the priests were afraid of what the Church administration could do to them. They were all afraid of losing their parishes, of being suspended, afraid for their pensions. Most of the laity just don’t seem to care.”
Hunchak, appalled by the scandal and cover-up resigned his positions at Syosset in April 2000. However, he kept quiet about his true reasons: “In the best possible world I would have stayed, but given the way things were going, my role in Syosset was diminishing. Given the fact that the scandal was ongoing, they wouldn’t/couldn’t tell me much about it, and I wasn’t going to be part of it. I knew then I would be ineffectual in whatever I tried to do. It was no longer the place I went to work for.... But I also knew how they worked, how they disparage anybody who doesn’t agree with them, cooperate with them, challenges them. So I waited until I was reappointed, and in Spring 2000, I convinced Fr. Bob I needed a change, as did my family. I got out.”
It should be noted that the then Secretary to the Metropolitan, Fr. John Hopko, resigned at almost the same time.
Unlike other whistle blowers, whom Syosset has attempted to discredit as “disgruntled former employees”, it will be hard for Syosset to disparage Hunchak. Until now, Syosset has had high praise for Hunchak during his tenure and higher praise for him at the time of his departure: “Mr. Hunchak’s departure is a great loss for the Chancery,” said Fr. Robert Kondratick, Chancellor of the OCA, in an April 2000 press release. “The number of tasks he performed was truly noteworthy... he will be deeply missed”.
When asked why he had kept silent all these years, Hunchak replied that no one, outside his family, and current employers, had ever asked him...
the full text of Hunchak's interview | download