Friday, May 26. 2006
No Audit report and "no receipts"; Tikhon; the OCA's Minutes: $250,000 Promissory Notes: Undisclosed Mortgages; and of course, Las Vegas. Oh, and no Council for five years so they can revise the Statute.
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DID ANYONE EXPECT ANYTHING TO BE ACCOMPLISHED?
WE SAID WE WOULD GIVE THEM THE TIME THEY NEEDED.
IN FOOTBALL THE NEXT PLAY WOULD BE "PUNT"
Does anyone other than myself think it's very ironic that no one allegedly knew that a promissory note even existed, let alone knew of it's whereabouts, but yet, Bishop Tikhon of the West miraculously shows up with a copy of it during the Holy Synod meeting?
Perhaps His Grace took a field trip to Martin Drive during one of the coffee breaks?
To state that part of the ex-Chancellor's job description did not include the task of being a file clerk is hysterical.
I guess we are also to assume that every single file and pertinent piece of paper relative to the pending investigation remained in the chancellor's office prior to his dismissal.
I feel certain people are either living in Fantasyland or think that everyone on the "outside" is stupid.
In the interest of showing good faith and only doing what's fair, how's this for an idea?
If the Church does indeed owe some money back to Fr. Bob, how about the amount owed is deducted from the enormous amounts missing from the various appeals that were entrusted to the Church during his employment?
As an added bonus, we won't even touch upon the millions missing from the ADM Foundation donations.
#1.1 Anonymous on 2006-05-27 17:19
Not to investigate the missing money from the ADM DONATIONS, is what our church "leaders" want to hear?
Please DO NOT LET THIS HAPPEN!
Most of us that want the OCA to survive, have said we will step up to the plate, to make it so. THIS WAS A MISTAKE!
Now, they will throw everything our way and hope we will believe them.
THEY STILL HAVE NOT ANSWERED:
ARE THE ALLEGATIONS TRUE OR FALSE?
For Bishop Tikhon to rush away from the meeting with hard evidence when the auditors have yet to report is downright irresponsible for a bishop of the Church. To produce a previously unknown quarter of a million dollar promissory note is absurd. These are the acts of a desperate man. What secrets lie beneath the surface?
#1.1.2 Name withheld on 2006-05-30 20:11
Please refer to the comment I made on Matushka Pearl Homiak: I referred her to the "General Administrative Offices of The Orthodox Church in America, Notes to the Financial Statements, For the Years Ending December 31, 2002 and 2001"
Right after item 5., there follow item 6. This should be of interest to "Anonymous."
"6. Unrestricted Assets
As directed by His Beatitude, Metropolitan HERMAN, the Chancery transferred $469,017 of temporarily restricted funds in 2002 and $98,461 of temporarily restricted funds in 2001 to meet the current obligations of the Chancery. These funds will be transferred back to temporarily restricted funds as soon as practical."
As far as I know, that Note to the Financial Statements as well as all the notes, and all the Financial Statements are still on file at the Chancery, unlike almost all other documents "forgotten" and "lost", favorable to the unspotted reputation of Protopresbyter R.S. Kondratick.
One man sometimes in the Chancery said that he had never seen the Promissory Note. So many feel that means he did not know of it. Probably the same instance never actually saw Father Bette's baptismal certificate, either, but I bet he feels it's not necessary to look at it to assume, today, that she's baptized!
#1.1.3 Bishop Tikhon on 2006-06-01 18:49
One can never generally expect official minutes of a public organization to be revealing, especially in a highly-charged environment like ours right now. The Synod and Syosset are themselves under investigation, individually and corporately, so to have expected self-incriminating information would have been unrealistic. That is why this and other free press information outlets are so necessary.
#2 Name withheld on 2006-05-26 20:24
"The Bishops heard from the Auditor that Fr.
Kondratick's son, Robert Jr., received $5,600 in church funds as reimbursement for a trip to Las Vegas."
Can Father Bob Kondratick or Robert Jr. and all those others who support Fr. Bob, please explain why Fr.
Kondratick's son, Robert Jr., received $5,600 in church funds as reimbursement for a trip to Las Vegas?
What type of church expense was this?
What benefit or "mission outreach" was accomplished here?
What was the money used for?
#3 Name withheld on 2006-05-27 on 2006-05-27 08:11
I would like to know how this administrative committee justifies these outrageous expenditures on behalf of the chancellor when the Church was already deeply in debt and pilfering funds earmarked for specific ministries. At the very least it shows the highest level of incompetence in management skills and extremely poor judgement.
Can anyone explain to me where Metropolitan Theodosius got the funds for the million dollar museum and bookstore he built at St.Tikhons Monastery last year? It is only my personal opinion but it seemed lacking in judgement to build another museum when a perfectly good one was donated with great fanfare only a few years ago. One would have to be blind not to see the numerous antiquated facilities serving the monastics, seminarians, and the faithful to see that we could have used some remodeling there instead of 3,000 ft of Russian kitch. A matter of taste I guess.
#3.1 Anonymous on 2006-05-27 13:11
Not to mention the unforgiveable lack of married student housing which forces already strapped seminarians into even greater debt. I say let's just chuck all of the stuff in the museum into storage and use the building for something useful like, say, a soup kitchen or the like. Just a thought.
#3.1.1 Anonymous on 2006-05-28 18:32
For $250,000 they could have built a brand new house!!
I wasn't aware that it's standard practice to have landlords allow tenants to make 1/4 million dollar of improvements and redecorating projects on a $200,000 house and then have the landlord pay back the tenant with interest all of the money. I wish I'd known, I could have really spruced up the places I have rented over the years and made a good return on all the redecorating money invested. Darn!
And they are all still wondering why the sheep have had enough of these clowns and their unethical and secretive dealings!
Dear Counselor - were one so inclined, one could do a search on the internet of the Nassau County NY assessor's office listings, and find a nice picture of the house in question, along with the fact that the market valuation of the house is $534,000. And one might be inclined to agree that, yes, $250,000 would be quite some improvements.
#4.1 Michael Strelka, CPA on 2006-05-27 12:42
As often happens, Chris Banescu is distorting the truth. The promissory note clearly did not authorize, permit, or allow any repairs or maintenance on that property. The promissory speaks of work that was ****directed*****-that the Kondraticks were "directed" to do. In order to fulfill those ******directions***** Bette Kondratick spent money she had personally inherited. Get it? Please note, as well, that the receipts and invoices for the work done are all on file, according to Archpriest Kucynda, et al.
Please note as well, that at least two members of the Administrative Committee who signed the note are still active, and that Alice Woog, one of them, asked even before a vote was taken by the Metropolitan Council on the big loan, why the Promissory Note was not included in the obligations. That's when we first began to hear at least one person state hopefully, "Well, ***I've**** never seen it." I believe that I've just read on the net that the money to Father R.S. Kondratick's son was a reimbursement for expenses Father R.S. Sr incurred in a visit not to L.A., but to the Life-Giving Spring Retreat Center in Boulder City, on the outskirts of Las Vegas. Did not Father R.S. use his son's credit card, rather than his own because his own was "max'd" out at the time?
I thought it was already reported to the Lesser Synod that there no evidence of criminal wrong-doing had been found or could be found relative to the 9/11 funds?
#4.2 Bishop Tikhon on 2006-05-27 18:47
Perhaps your debate with Mr. Banescu could be clarified by simply revealing the date of the promissory note, that is, when it was notarized. The "repairs" you mention were completed shortly after the property was purchased in 1992-1993. If the date is before that time, your point would be well taken. If after, well, that would raise questions of how repairs could be "directed", say 10 years, after they had been completed.
Secondly, OCANews has not reported on any findings to the Lesser Synod regarding the legal status of the 9/11 funds. If you would like to go on record and share those, our readers would be grateful.
Finally, thank you for confirming the Las Vegas trip and reimbursement receipts charged to Robert Jr.'s credit cards. Apparently the discrepency in who, what, and where the funds were actually spent comes from lack of any supporting documentation. Like you, we await the Poskauer Rose investigation which may shed more light on these and other financial matters.
I suggest that the oca.news.org editor ask Archpriest Paul Kucynda, who signed as a co-signer of the Promissory Note and member of the Administrative Committee, and signed it again as the OCA Treasurer (that should give a clue as to the date), for the information deemed crucial to the editor. And, it is not the Promissory Note that directed any repairs (sorry, I have to underline something for those challenged in the reading department) be done. What an idea! The Note referred to repairs ALREADY accomplished. (Valerie Protopappas seems to have no handicaps in reading at all, on the contrary!) The Promissory Note was executed only AFTER the OCA had failed to pay the Kondratickseven with all the invoices and receipts on file (at least before the Chancellor was fired), and they generously did not demand immediate reimbursement but allowed the Treasurer and the rest of the administration to offer a plan of installments. Even that plan was not followed, and the Kondraticks had even more cause to..sue for the money, or take out a LIEN on that property until Bette got her money back. But they did not sue, they did not demand anything. They've never demanded anything, and when they were so frightened by the constant demands to RESIGN (one such demand was phrased as a request to go on "administrative leave" but that was a total exception) and the suspicion that the lawyers had been engaged long ago, even before the Holy Synod or Metropolitan Council knew of its being planned, that they thought they could apparently be subjected to any indignity, including a fishing expedition to try and find criminal charges, they engaged a lawyer OF Their OWN to respond to the engagement of lawyers by The Primate, personally, as the Decider.
I recklessly and carelessly and foolishly, apparently, surrendered my copy of the promissory note to the Secretary of the Holy Synod last week. I somehow doubt that this action will be divulged in any minutes. I believe, though, that another copy of that promissory note is in a safe place. Just look at all the documents missing! I suggest that the first question to ask is this: Cui bono? Cui bono? Cui bono?
Ask why when a member of the Administrative Committee inquired whether or not this Note was included in the amount due for which the loan was proposed, the answer she got, and which was distributed to all those who had to approve the loan, she, and they, were told that there was no such loan "on file." Cui bono? Cui bono? Cui bono?s
Now, Monsieur Editor, that nothing of substance has appeared (and apparently will ever appear) to prove the charges of the Protodeacon, do you not find it kicky that (in desperation?) the old Alaska lands account stuff has been suddenly resurrected? Do we really want to hear what the OCA did with those lands and those accounts before the Diocesan Bishop wrested control of the property in his diocese from the Central Administration. Do we really want to go over the actions, the financial transactions of two or three previous hierarchs, one of them gone to his appropriate reward, especially when that Hierarch belonged so much to the little group of those who went after our former and disgraced Chancellor? I don't recommend it!
Do I get the oca.news.org Trophy for Transparency and Accountability or not!
#188.8.131.52 Bishop Tikhon on 2006-05-29 20:45
Your Grace: Master, Bless! You have stated elsewhere that just because there are no "receipts" there is no evidence that the appeals collections did not make it to their intended destination. A receipt would include a cancelled check. My impression is that the accounting firm has found no such cancelled checks, although we are still waiting for their report. The alternative to having cancelled checks would be to believe the other reports, that monies were withdrawn in cash, and handed to beneficiaries. Now beside the fact that $260,000 is a lot of cash to be withdrawing from a bank and carrying around town, it is certainly out of the realm of good accounting practices. By the way, to withdraw $260,000 in $9500 parcels would require 27 trips to the bank. And while I am not a lawyer, it is my understanding that a series of withdrawals in circumvention of federal banking laws is in fact a federal offense. Not to mention that carrying, or mailing, $39,000 in cash out of the country to Beslan seems to strain credulity.
To continue, writing this whole affair off to sloppy bookkeeping is no longer sufficient for us, the faithful. It might be excused at a small parish level. But not when it involves millions of dollars, and the tax exemption of the OCA. We expect those we trust in Syosset will be good stewards of the resources we have sent to you, for it is not our money, but God's "...every good gift is from above, coming from Thee, the Father of Lights...". Good stewardship would have meant that we send Patriarch Alexei a nice birthday card, and not a delegation to sing him Many Years. Good stewardship would have meant cleaning up the accounting practices, when time and again over the past 15 years the audit committee has urged you to do so. Good stewardship would have meant that there WOULD be receipts for hundreds of thousands, if not millions, in expenditures. Good stewardship would have meant that we spent 10 times for mission work what we spent for external affairs, not the other way around. Good stewardship would have meant that our choirs not have to wait 30+ years for a Holy Week 3 book. Good stewardship would have meant that we hold our AAC at more affordable locations, and not run a quarter million dollar deficit.
I have been a professional accountant for over 30 years. In my mind, one of two things has happened: either the Metropolitan Council and/or the Holy Synod did nothing the stanch the operating deficits, or they were duped by the financial officers of the OCA. I'm waiting to hear which of the two happened.
#4.2.2 Michael Strelka, CPA on 2006-05-28 14:58
It seems that our OCA administation has been suffering from an identity crisis and appears to have confused our very poor OCA with the GOA. Unfortunately the OCA does not have the deep pockets of the GOA to cover the lack of prioritizing expenditures and the lack of a budget- before creating debts that the administration could not cover. It would seem to be more helpful at this point if our bishops would step out of their intellectual straight-jackets and "siding up "so to speak" and be part of the solution instead of the problem.
Some of them have suffered great personal pain as of late in confronting their own very real denial as to the true nature of their closest confidants. One might think after such suffering one might be given a gift of humility and say" I don't know brother, let us begin again, seek truth, forgive one another, and remedy the situation."
from one who is in true denial
#4.2.3 Anonymous on 2006-05-28 18:44
WHY IS IT THAT THE LAITY ALWAYS "DISTORT" THE TRUTH? THE BISHOP COULD NOT WAIT TO START THIS BARRAGE OF GOSSIP BEFORE BOARDING HIS PLANE
TO WHERE-EVER! IT SEEMS THAT SOME PEOPLE JUST LIKE TO STIR UP CONTROVERSY! WHY??
Your Grace, thank you for your clarifications.
Can you please take a moment to give us the full information on the promissory note, ie, copies of the note, specific dates etc, as opposed to the one word "directed". I think this could be a big step in uncovering the truth that is often distorted, as well as avoid anyone else's distortion of the truth by release of a single word (read that as you like).
Second, I spent a week in Las Vegas at a fine hotel for a business conference this spring. The entire trip cost far less (about 1/2) of the expenses you mention. Can you expand on the costs of a typical stay at the retreat? Since this was funded in some part by my contributions to the OCA, can we find a trip report or summary of the activities? I might like to find out more about this type of trip in order to make the journey myself. I will have to save up for a few years as my wife and I don't often have the chance to spend in excess of $5,000 frivilously, let alone on somethng as important as a spiritual retreat.
It is good to see that Father Bob has learned to more assertive (hiring a law firm to respond inquiries from The Metropolitan) - it is a shame he did not think of this before when he was being directed to spend his wife's inheritance.
One more question - why do I detect such condescension in your postings ? Is that my problem, or how they are intended to be read ?
... with all due respect.
#4.2.5 Peter Baker on 2006-05-31 03:51
This is like watching a synod of Homer Simpsons.
Remember, it isn't about the money. The missing money is just a medium of angst. It's about the abuse of power and abuse of the laity of the OCA.
#5 Wayne Matthew Syvinski on 2006-05-28 04:48
Why any hierarch feels he deserves to live in the lap of luxury is beyond me. When did Jesus tell his Apostles to seek such vain, earthly pleasures as a nice house? St. Paul was fine with tents and tentmaking to EARN HIS OWN KEEP and SUPPORT HIMSELF instead of abusing others by expecting a salary or extravagantly posh manse.
Perhaps around the time the requirements of "must be a man of but one wife" were watered and dumbed down, indeed lowered significantly to allow only for "celibate" clergy to become bishops.....forgetting the "low estate" of the Most Holy Mother of God, and the simple life of the Apostles ("Consider the lilies of the field, for Solomon (or pick a bishop) dressed in royal robe has not the wealth of them.").
They put on a good act at their hierarchical services, reveling in every "eis polla eti despota", forgetting that the only true
despotes is the Lord Jesus Christ.
These "overseers" truly already have their "reward" on earth. They'd better enjoy those episcopal crowns now while they have the chance.
A reminder to those who have forgotten, the words of the Holy Apostle Paul to the Thessalonians:
"Now we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you keep away from every brother who leads an unruly life and not according to the tradition which you received from us. For you yourselves know how you ought to follow our example, because we did not act in an undisciplined manner among you, nor did we eat anyone's bread without paying for it, but with labor and hardship we kept working night and day so that we would not be a burden to any of you; not because we do not have the right to this, but in order to offer ourselves as a model for you, so that you would follow our example. For even when we were with you, we used to give you this order: if anyone is not willing to work, then he is not to eat, either. For we hear that some among you are leading an undisciplined life, doing no work at all, but acting like busybodies." (2 Thess 3:6-11)
#6 Anonymous on 2006-05-28 08:03
These comments by Anonymous (and there are far too many of those on this site IMHO -- stand up and be counted if you want to be taken seriously) -- are embarassingly self-righteous in tone.
The hierarchs do not prescribe for themselves their vestments or the liturgical acclamations. Those are part of the given patrimony of the entire Church.
And you might be aware that the Apostle makes the giving of honor to those who "rule" an imperative.
Please don't muddy up the rather focused conversation with a diatribe that only reveals your lack of understanding or personal trouble with figures of authority.
I'm no Yes man to "institutions," niether do i assume that where there is money and power there is no corruption -- but there is a real danger here to us all of giving in to cynicism and sarcasm and judgment.
The facts are not yet in. Perhaps we might apply some of lenten patience while we wait.
And at some point might we all not remember that St. Philaret taught us to pray, "Teach me...that Your holy will governs all"?
Some of these comments seem woefully faithless.
Christ is risen!
#6.1 Tracey (Rdr. John) on 2006-05-29 01:14
Show me anywhere a painting of CHRIST, the OLD SAINTS and TEACHERS walking thru the desert with GOLD ROBES and GOLD MITRE'S. Most lay people I know, are humble,and show
respect to our clergy.
Remember, RESPECT comands RESPECT.
If only Bishop Tikhon would listen to you! (But then again, based on his responses to Fr. Hopko's letter, I don't think he takes advice from Readers.) I understand that the Synod wanted only the abridged minutes to be published. Tikhon overstepped his authority by releasing more details than contained in the summarized minutes. Granted, he wanted to protect his perogative to have certain statements recorded in the official minutes.
But, if he is trying to help a wronged man, his Internet statements are only doing further damage. Perhaps Fr. Bob could tell Bishop Tikhon to still his typing fingers and be silent for now. (But then again, I don't think that he takes advice from Priests, and maybe not even from fellow Bishops.)
#6.1.2 Christopher Eager on 2006-05-30 15:29
Tit for tat?
This is an ugly mess. I'm not surprised that some are having their faith challenged. I respect the right of people to vent here anonymously, because it's none of my business to judge them as to whether they are self-righteous or have something to hide.
I do appreciate the reminder of the Prayer for God's Will ascribed to Metropolitan PHILARET. I offer this other prayer, shared with me by a dear deacon friend. It is by St. Nikolai Velimirovich. For the edification of those who are angry...
"Bless my enemies, O Lord. Even I bless them and do not curse them.
"Enemies have driven me into your embrace more than friends have.
"Friends have bound me to earth, enemies have loosed me from earth and have demolished all my aspirations in the world.
"Enemies have made me a stranger in worldly realms and an extraneous inhabitant of the world. Just as a hunted animal finds safer shelter than an unhunted animal does, so have I, persecuted by enemies, found the safest sanctuary, having ensconced myself beneath your tabernacle, where neither
friends nor enemies can slay my soul.
"Bless my enemies, O Lord. Even I bless them and do not curse them.
"They, rather than I, have confessed my sins before the world.
"They have punished me, whenever I have hesitated to punish myself.
"They have tormented me, whenever I have tried to flee torments.
"They have scolded me, whenever I have flattered myself.
"They have spat upon me, whenever I have filled myself with arrogance.
"Bless my enemies, O Lord, Even I bless them and do not curse them.
"Whenever I have made myself wise, they have called me foolish.
"Whenever I have made myself mighty, they have mocked me as though I were a dwarf.
"Whenever I have wanted to lead people, they have shoved me into the background.
"Whenever I have rushed to enrich myself, they have prevented me with an iron hand.
"Whenever I thought that I would sleep peacefully, they have wakened me from sleep.
"Whenever I have tried to build a home for a long and tranquil life, they have demolished it and driven me out.
"Truly, enemies have cut me loose from the world and have stretched out my hands to the hem of your garment.
"Bless my enemies, O Lord. Even I bless them and do not curse them.
"Bless them and multiply them; multiply them and make them even more bitterly against me:
so that my fleeing to You may have no return;
so that all hope in men may be scattered like cobwebs;
so that absolute serenity may begin to reign in my soul;
so that my heart may become the grave of my two evil twins, arrogance and anger;
so that I might amass all my treasure in heaven;
ah, so that I may for once be freed from self-deception, which has entangled me in the dreadful web of illusory life.
Enemies have taught me to know what hardly anyone knows, that a person has no enemies in the world except himself.
One hates his enemies only when he fails to realize that they are not enemies, but cruel friends.
It is truly difficult for me to say who has done me more good and who has done me more evil in the world: friends or enemies.
"Therefore bless, O Lord, both my friends and enemies.
"A slave curses enemies, for he does not understand. But a son blesses them, for he understands.
"For a son knows that his enemies cannot touch his life."
"Therefore he freely steps among them and prays to God for them."
#6.1.3 Rdr. Alexander Langley on 2006-05-31 18:51
I'm also confused. A 'promissory note' is not the same as cash on the barrelhead. Apparently, Fr. Bob's wife paid for work done on property owned not by herself and Fr. Bob, but by the OCA. That means that the money used was hers and that the promissory note merely promises to reimburse her for it usage. Now, I don't know what was done or why, but since the property did not belong to Fr. Bob, he can hardly be expected to recoup his (and his wife's) money at the time of the sale of the property. Ergo, the only way that the Kondratick's could get that money back - together with the interest that they did not receive because that money was not invested even in a savings account - is via a promissory note - unless, of course, the OCA took out a loan and paid them back the entire sum at one time with whatever interest would be due and owing for the time that the money was being 'used' by the Chancery.
Now, frankly, there is not only nothing wrong with this morally (although the expediture might have been 'frivolous' at the time given the state of Church finances) but, in fact, the Kondratick's did the Church a favor by supplying the money absent anything as collateral other than the word of the hiearchs that they would be repaid. I fail to see this as problematic other than, as noted, whether or not it was a wise time to spend that much money - and for all that I know, it might have been a necessary thing to prevent further deterioration - and a loss of value - regarding the property involved.
As for the $2,500 'reimbursement', again nothing much is said about the reason for spending the money being reimbursed. Remember, when the matter is presented as a 'trip to Las Vegas', everyone naturally draws the obvious conclusion; that is, that it was a matter of 'fun and games'. On the other hand, if the matter had been presented as a trip to this or that monastery or Patriarch's dwelling, few would have given the matter a second thought! And as far as the amount is concerned, I don't travel much (at all, really), but I know people who do and $2,500 for a trip is 'chump change' to use Vegas terminology. Plane tickets, rent-a-cars, hotel rooms - these would add up to that amount before one could say 'Jack Robinson'!
So far, we have had some 'thrilling exposures' - HUGE promissory note (not, I might add, loan or *gift*) and a trip to Las Vegas! Wow! That has to add up to something nefarious.... doesn't it?
Are the finances of the OCA in chaos? Yup! Does that mean that lots of people (or even one or two people) got rich on the Church's 'wealth'? Hardly. Again, until there is actual evidence of wrongdoing or criminal laxity, our Christian duty is to hold our collective 'tongues' lest we injure a brother (or sister) in Christ in our haste to demand 'accountability'.
M. V. Protopapas
#7 Matushka Valerie Protopapas on 2006-05-28 12:59
Perhaps the following clarification will help with your confusion about why so many of us are concerned with Promissory Note. First, the Martin St. property was purchased by the OCA without the approval or knowledge of the Metropolitan Council. It was done by the Administrative Committee; and the decision was never communicated to the Metropolitan Council until some eight years after the fact, and then, only in the context of this scandal. It was only five years after that a previously undisclosed promissory note for improvements on the property was made known. The Metropolitan Council did not authorize these improvements either. (His Grace suggests that the Kondtratick's were " directed" to make them by the Administrative Committee which signed the note. But once again, this is not in their competenance.) This is turn gave rise to my question to His Grace - what is the date on the note? So far, His Grace has not answered, although he has a copy of the note. I think you would agree that it is not possible to "direct" improvements to a property ten years after they have been made. But we shall see....
As for the Las Vegas trip, I too am confused. His Grace explains that Fr. Bob, the Chancellor of the OCA, had to borrow his son's credit cards to pay for a trip on behalf of the OCA. This seems indeed implausible for any number of reasons: who borrows $5,600 for a business trip from their children? Why could the OCA credit cards not be used? I know we both look forward to answers.
Finally, if the standard for asking a question is "actual evidence" I suggest you will rarely ask any. Indeed, it seems to me that one has to ask the hard, difficult and often unpleasant questions if one is find "the actual evidence". This is what the auditor's, investigators, etc., are presently doing. If you want to criticize me for publishing these results as they are revealed in peicemeal fashion, I suggest you begin with the one revealing them: Bishop Tikhon.
But again, for whatever reason the property was purchased and by whom (not the Kondraticks, surely), it appears that Matushka Kondratick's own money was used and hence the promissory note. Now, if I understand it aright, thieves don't use their own money for something and then demand its repayment via a promissory note. If, in fact, none of M. Kondratick's money was used and the promissory note was merely a disguised 'gift' to the Kondraticks, then the matter is certain suspicious. But if, in fact, her money was used - for whatever reason - then it is only fair to pay it back including the interest it would have accrued had it been invested elsewhere.
You are mixing apples and oranges when you decry the purchase of property outside the proper channels and the repayment of monies used on that property. Indeed, the purchase might be improper, but that does not make the use of monies for its improvement in and of itself improper.
Nor is it impossible to borrow money from one's children in need. It happens all the time, albeit usually the other way round. If Fr. Bob's son was willing to help his father in that way, not only isn't it illegal, but it isn't anyone's business but the Kondratick family. Of course, the trip itself might fall into the category of something questionable, but questionable is not necessarily improper. It could be nothing more sinister than unwise or imprudent.
I find in many instances in these posts there is a 'blurring' of the concepts of unwise, incorrect and illegal. Something that is unwise - that second helping of ice cream - is not necessarily incorrect (unless one is diabetic) and certainly comes nowhere near falling into the category of illegal unless the ice cream is stolen. Many financial dealings in this matter are, in fact, 'unwise' - in some instances, incredibly so leading one to wonder if there was anyone 'in charge'. Some might be classified as 'incorrect' in that they were accomplished outside the guidelines put in place to assure fiscal responsiblity and accountability. In fact, in some of these instances, the matter might even descend into the realm of illegality.
But we must be very careful to differentiate between and among these concepts. To simply lump them all together as one great 'failing' is to assure that even fewer facts will be revealed by the leadership of the Church. After all, if something was done that was irresponsible and even stupid, it doesn't necessarily equate with something that was illegal or morally wrong. However, if such errors in judgment are going to be condemned in light of the greater sin, I myself would hesitate to bring too much information to the fore until such time as I could be sure that there would be an understanding by all parties relative to what was a matter of poor management or even malfeasance and what was, in fact, illegal and subject to criminal prosecution.
Therefore, if we the faithful wish all questions answered and all things revealed, we would do well to reserve judgment until the entire matter is before us rather than running after various portions of it and making judgments before all the facts are in. I truly believe that if we are discreet and discerning, we will, in the end, know all, but if, on the other hand, we continue to 'pounce' on every revelation as indicative of actual criminal wrongdoing, we may never know all the facts simply because those who do know fear accusations of criminality for what are acts more in the nature of poor judgment than felonious intent.
M. Valerie Protopapas
#7.1.1 Matuska Valerie Protopapas on 2006-05-29 09:38
A few observations (at the risk of debating point by point, which I don't really think is appropriate):
Borowing from your relatives, for your own use, is your own business. To do so in order to carry out the church's work is all our business. It is unfair and unwise to put others in debt when we cannot get our financial house in order, especially on an item that could only be seen as less than critical. If we can't pay our bills how can we justify ANY kind of trip, let alone a $5,600 one.
As for spending $250,000 on renovations, I am really troubled by this. Again, in an environment where we can't pay our bills, spending this money in this manner just doesn't look right. More importantly, if I am renting a house and would like to make renovations, I am not at liberty to make those changes and then simply send the bill to my landlord - that is improper and might actually end up in my donating those renovations to the landlord. This is why it is important for all the facts around this matter to be revealed before coming to a conclusion. If we had a leaky roof on diocese property and no money to fix it, and someone generously paid for the repairs to avoid further damage to the property - that is very gracious. It seems to me that $250,000 would include a lot of non-critical work. Again, it just doesn't look right to me.
Finally, unwise vs unethical vs illegal...
I have a bigger concern over unwise than over illegal. There are MANY activities one can involve themselves in that are perfectly legal, but are (in my opinion) sinful and despicable - I don't need to list them here as most can think of any number of topics. This is the problem for me - I have little concern as to what the US Government thinks of how our leaders handled these issues, therefore a finding of "no illegal activity" does nothing to satisfy any of my concerns.
Many of these activities just don't look right. Why can't the parties involved just come forward with the facts and lets move on ? Why have individuals hired lawyers to "protect" themselves ? If people made foolish mistakes, or if they made mistakes out of ignorance, let's correct it and move on. My fear is that many have been living the high-life while widows have been funding it with single, wrinkled dollars stuffed into an envelope they drop in the basket on Sunday.
It may not be illegal, but it just doesn't look right.
#184.108.40.206 Peter Baker on 2006-06-02 03:07
Just to provide some insight - I think the reimbursement for the trip to Las Vegas was for $5,600, not $2,500. Bishop Tikhon tells us the trip was to a retreat center outside Las Vegas.
I did a quick search on google and found a couple interesting documents. First, there's a group that ran a week long program at the center for $395 (excluding air travel expense) - that includes room and all meals and materials for a week, as well as transportation to and from the airport.
Another document I found indicated that the retreat center was looking for $6,000 to BUILD a library (I think that was in 2002). So $5,600 could probably go a long way at the retreat center.
For business travel, whenever we spend 1/4 that much money, we need to submit trip reports and itinerary (I think it has something to do with the tax laws). Also, I could never expend that much on one trip without the highest level of approval (my company has about 36,000 employees and $12Billion in revenue annually).
My point is not to assume anything with respect to this expenditure, other than that there should be plenty of supporting documents, trip reports email of approval, etc regarding the purpose and result of the event, since $5,600 is a LARGE sum of money to spend for a business trip (I'm not sure what company think $2,500 is chump change, but I'd be curious to find out). Maybe his grace, Bishop Tikhon can share some additional details - I would certainly like to know more before I draw any conclusions.
Hope this helps.
#7.2 Peter Baker on 2006-06-01 03:28
Sorry about my typo. I have had problems with such things since I sent an envelope at my first place of employment to a company boss in 'Pissburgh'. Yes, I wrote the wrong amount, but even the correct amount might be justifiable depending upon the duration of the stay and/or other considerations that are perfectly legitimate.
The problem is not the amount but *why it was spent*. If it was spent properly - that is, for a reason worthy of a blessing and in keeping with the canons of the Church - then the amount only becomes problematic when it exceeds any normal expenditure for that particular purpose. For instance, if a car becomes a necessary expenditure, did the Chancery purchase a decent, economical car or a Porsche? One would be non-problematic, the other would certainly strain any claim to financial prudence.
But again, my problem is that we have 'bits and pieces' of the story and many of us are making judgments and reaching conclusions absent all the facts. Some people have already assumed that Fr. Kondratick is 'guilty' of something but that 'guilt' can run from maintaining the prior 'status quo' with regard to how things were done, to errors in judgment and all the way to criminality - with all points in between! So far, there has been no 'smoking gun', nothing that would indicate wrongdoing on Fr. Kondratick's part (and remember, we don't even have a 'crime'!) and yet, people are already pronouncing his guiit. My God! Even in the secular world - at least in the United States - a defendant is innocent until he is proven guilty beyond a 'reasonable doubt'. Must the Church now look to the world for a standard of fairness? It would seem to be the case, alas, in this instance.
M. Valerie Protopapas
#7.2.1 Matuska Valerie Protopapas on 2006-06-01 15:28
One word. ENRON.
Shredders must have been "filing" the receipts.
Maybe they'll tell us about the Vegas trip tomorrow at St. Tikhons....
Sad commentary. I think its time for some resignations to restore the truth in the church. Right now...it's fallen from grace.
#8 Bob H on 2006-05-28 17:49
Bishop Tikhon commented that "There is no evidence that anyone has cheated anyone out of anything. If receipts cannot be found for the money given to intended recipients of charitable donations, that is a problem called 'no receipts were found.' It does not prove or suggest or indicate that money did not (reach?) recipients"
My question would be then why did the OCA just take out a $1.7 million loan to pay back certain designated funds, special collections/appeals? If it was merely a matter of the documentation being missing why did someone feel compelled to pay the funds back? It would seem obvious to me that someone along the way does think the monies are not merely unaccounted for or not credited properly. Someone seems to think the monies were directed elsewhere, if not misdirected, misused or plane missing.
Someone, somewhere thinks monies MUST be paid back/restored for some reason. This doesn't seem to me to be merely a matter of receipts not found. Someone is thinking the funds need to be restored or further problems are going to arise. If they thought it only a matter of missing receipts, I don't think they would see a need to replenish these funds.
#9 Fr. Ted Bobosh on 2006-05-28 19:25
Sadly, I think His Grace misinterprets the communications from the CPA firm.
Accountants do not (should not, must not!) determine the legality or illegality of specific instances. The determination of legality and illegality of a specific act can only be made in a court of competent jurisdiction. Accountants deal with facts, and facts only. Even a forensic accountant for the government will not state that an act is illegal. They will only relate the facts, and allow the user of the information to draw their own conclusion.
I work as a forensic accountant, currently with a company that has admitted filing false information with the government. Yet, even in an environment of admitted illegality, we (accountants) do not characterize specific acts as illegal or not.
Even the answer of "nothing criminal" places the accountant in a very untenable position with the code of ethics, by making a determination they are not competent to make.
Secondly, if reciepts cannot be located, then factually we cannot say one way or the other about the incident. I'd love to be able to stand before the IRS and the government and say "I don't have a reciept for the $5,000, so you'll accept my word that the contribution was made to the parties I made it to."
If one looks at the ADM monies (estimated by outsiders at $3.0 million plus), the million-plus in funds "borrowed" from other restricted assets, and the total amount of the loan, there is evidence of somewhere around $5.0 million in unaccountedfor expenditures.
I recall the following:
It is telling that within a week of this meeting, Metropolitan Theodosius retained the services of a private lawyer, Michael Kennedy, and Father Kondratick retained the services of David Chesnoff, a lawyer from Las Vegas provided through the connections of Richard Rock and William Tarbey of Martinez and Murphy fame (a google on David Chesnoff is really fun reading). The resolution signed by the Holy Synod during the All American Council in 1999 calling for the Metropolitan to deny any type of audit of the “Discretionary Account” was actually prepared by legal counsel for the Metropolitan. (from Fr. Dcn. Wheeler's June 20, 1999 account, as posted on OCANEWS.ORG -- http://www.ocanews.org/DOCS/3_WheelersAccount_06-20-99.pdf)
I did a google on David Chesnoff. Why is our former Chancellor retaining the services of a celebrity attorney, one who represents accused mobsters? With the wealth of competent legal advice in the Metropolitan New York City area, such a move would seem to have significance.
I think it wise at this juncture to put aside, or at least separate, the recent divisions exposed in the Holy Synod, and return to the essential allegations and question:
Are the allegations true or false?
Absence of evidence (i.e., absence of documentation that would be expected to exist) should not default to "No Truth to the allegations". One would have to adequately explain why the documentation doesn't exist, and at that point, adequately detail why a criminal charge of embezzlement would not be leveled against appropriate individuals within the OCA.
If my boss, the absolute owner of the company, makes expenditures without documentation, the assertion of the government will be that the expenditures, absent documentation to the contrary, were made for personal benefit (read that as "private inurement" in the IRS language).
Unfortunately, His Grace would like for us to take the opposite approach -- that the absense of documentation means the funds did NOT result in personal benefit. That position, while perhaps the more Christian response, will not hold water in a non-Christian environments like the IRS or federal court.
We must stay the course. Are the allegations true or false?
Martin D. Watt, CPA
#10 Marty Watt on 2006-05-29 08:17
Monsieur Watt and others are still purportedly anxious about the Archer Midland and Andreas Foundation millions. I (with the help of Dragon Naturally Speaking) have copied the text of the letter from Mr. Andreas which should alleviate all such anxiety. I, lke the other members of the Holy Synod, was given a copy of this document for the first time when it was delivered to His Beatitude, and that is why it was written: to be shown to any and all who had anxiety about his discretionary fund..a fund NOT created by the Church for His Beatitude, but a fund created for His Beatitude to use without reference to any bureaucracy or any entity whatsoever, including the Church.
That is why, when the Protodeacon (the first one to act in this campaign) revived last year the same allegations resolved and publicized as being resolved at the All-American Council in 1999, the Holy Synod refused to consider the closed matter. I can't explain, of course, why this document and my input to the recent Holy Synod minutes and the Promissory Note seem all to have gone back "into nothingness" since the strategic discharge of the former, disgraced Chancellor. Not only this document, but receipts and the initials of the Primate which were made on every request for transfer of funds from specified funds to the general operating account and operations of The OCA from 1999 until the Chancellor was hastily fired and before the auditors had a crack at the files, as the former comptrollers and Treasurers, all of them, required before releasing such funds, and, as well, that promissory note, and so forth. All these documents seem to have been "disappeared", just like Argentine or Chilean dissidents, as soon as Father Bob left the office and the locks were changed. No one did anything but yawn, as well, when I and others pointed out that the whole computer system was subject to outside interference, hacking etc., with no good internet security established. I do believe, though, that the original UNIX system, set up by the Protodeacon at one time, as well as the system that replaced it could have been accessed even by those without his skills.
Now, here's the text of that letter. Please read it carefully, and then let us know if you still consider millions to be "missing" from OCA FUNDS.
ARCHER DANIELS MIDLAND CO.
June 28, 1999
Orthodox Church in America
P.O. Box 675
Syosset, NY 11791
Thank you very much for your telephone call of June 24, 1999, regarding the need for back-up documentation for certain donations made to you from the Archer Daniels Midland foundation and the Andreas Foundation Of course we will provide the documentation you have requested.
Please accept my apologies for “reading between the lines” of your request; but from our conversation it seems that the intention of these donations is in question or is being misunderstood. If this is the case we are puzzled since we thought the intent was clearly stated at the time of our initial donation some years ago.
Therefore in conjunction with the preparation of the documentation you have requested, we would like to take a moment of your time to clarify the stipulations and intention of the donations given to Your Beatitude once again.
From the very outset it was and is the intention of the ATM foundation and the Andreas foundation that specific funds donated to Your Beatitude were to be dispensed and disbursed at your sole personal discretion. We of the foundations believe that Your Beatitude should have specified funds at your disposal to assist those persons or entities as you see fit Your Beatitude has made it increasingly clear to us over the years that there are projects which are near and dear to your heart needing spiritual and financial attention. We perfectly understand that these special projects cannot be accomplished with or through your general organizational funds. For this precise reason we have donated specified funds to Your Beatitude in order that you can personally and without restriction accomplish these projects at home and abroad. We are also keenly aware of the fact that you are personally sensitive to the plight of so very many people who suffer at the hand of others or from circumstances that have made the dignity of the human condition unbearable without the assistance of someone who cares. We at ADM know that Your Beatitude is also deeply concerned for his Holiness Patriarch Alexey II in the many needs of the Mother Church in Russia. You should be able to help whomever you wish without the encumbrances of any bureaucracy.
Without being entirely altruistic and even though we are not all that well versed in the workings of church administrations, we are knowledgeable of business and we are searching there will be expenses involved in the exercise of your good works. We understand that portions of these donated funds are needed to defray the cost of various and sundry expenses.
The ADM Foundation and the Andreas foundation do not require Your Beatitude to keep an accounting of the use of the proceeds of these donations for two reasons: primarily to eliminate any limitations to your personal discretion; and secondly, to maintain confidentiality and secure anonymity for those persons or entities you deem worthy of your gracious assistance.. We are delighted to be of help to you and to help others through you.
We believe it has always been understood that the transfer of any specific funds to your care that the ATM foundation and the Andreas foundation relinquished all rights to the donated funds and passed such rights on to Your Beatitude personally for use at the sole personal discretion of Your Beatitude.
We are dismayed that it has become necessary to re-state the intention of our donations; but to dispel any misconception or misunderstanding which may exist within your organization we feel it to be necessary.
We will proceed with the compilation of the documentation you have requested-which we request state stay solely in the possession of Your Beatitude
With kindest personal regards we are...
Yours with the great respect,
Dwayne O. Andrea is
#10.1 Bishop Tikhon on 2006-05-29 20:23
Your Grace, Bless!
This document, while very helpful, raises additional questions in my mind.
Did the Church issue a reciept for the funds? If so, it is a textbook example of what the IRS calls a private inurement, and in the words of the late Desi Arnez, they'll be some "'splainin'" to do.
As Mr. Andreas is not the sole trustee of the ADM Foundation, or the Andreas Family Foundation, did the ADM Foundation or Andreas Family Foundation issue a similar letter for the portion of the gift to Metropolitan Theodosius that came from them?
As the gifts appear to be made to the Metropolitan as an individual, were the appropriate gift taxes paid by the Metropolitan on the funds received?
While the donor may not have required an accounting, the IRS would. In order to avoid gift taxes (assuming they were not paid), there would have to be an accounting to the IRS, supported by reciepts, that the funds were disbursed to tax-exempt people and for tax-exempt purposes.
Perhaps this is none of my concern -- perhaps these issues are the personal responsibility of Metropolitan Theodosius. Are we to assume the Church bears no responsibility for the liabilities and actions of the heirarchs? I have a difficult time believing Your Grace would accept that to be true.
Has the documentation been provided, as promised in the letter? Where is that documentation at this point? Did anyone ever see it, or is it referenced in minutes of meetings anywhere?
I'm sorry, Your Grace, but I fear the existence of this letter does not allay my anxiety. I desperately desire this issue to come to a resolution, but not under circumstances that are less than fully transparent, or leave outside observers like me to wonder.
The most troubling aspect (to me) of this entire series of events is that, as I wrote on this site sometime back, I believe the Church was ready to hear what happened, what was substantively done to remedy the situation and prevent recurrance, to forgive any wrongdoing and move on. At least I was, and remain, ready to forgive.
Regardless of my personal opinions about the dismissal of the Chancellor, Your Grace is appropriate in pointing out the dismissal also occurred behind closed doors. The (former) Chancellor deserved a full hearing before the Metropolitan Council, if that is indeed to whom he is accountable. I would personally have liked for there to have been more transparency to that process as well.
Of course, if the Metropolitan Council is not responsible for the oversight of the administration of the OCA, then they (nor I) can fault the methods or decision of the Metropolitan.
It hurts me deeply to see words used to describe Christ's Church and hierarchs like "secretive", "lusting of power", "divisive", and "corrupt". I would hope the words would be "honest", "prayerful", "unifying" and "beyond suspicion". Mostly, I would hope the word "humble" would come into play. Unfortunately, it has not thus far been demonstrated by the heirarchs, save Archbishop JOB.
Please pray for me.
Kissing your right hand, I remain,
the sinner Marty
Martin D. Watt, CPA
#10.1.1 Marty Watt on 2006-06-01 14:58
"Has the documentation been provided, as promised in the letter? Where is that documentation at this point? Did anyone ever see it, or is it referenced in minutes of meetings anywhere?"
I don't understand Marty would put that question when the last words of Mister Andreas's words were:
"We will proceed with the compilation of the documentation you have requested-which we request state stay solely in the possession of Your Beatitude"
I think that "solely in the possession of Your Beatitude makes Marty's question....problematic.
#10.1.1.1 Bishop Tikhon on 2006-06-01 18:22
Mr. Watt wrote:
To clarify, although it is counterintuitive, gift taxes accrue to the donor, not the donee. That is, if the monies received from the ADM Foundation and the Andreas Foundation (**not** from Mr. Dwayne Andreas personally) were gifts of money to Met. Theodosius, the two foundations would be responsible for any gift taxes. The wrinkle in this case is that both foundations filed tax returns which showed that the monies were donated to the Church entity, **not** to Met. Theodosius. If both foundations stand by their returns, as I would expect, but Met. Theodosius exercised complete control over these monies, then he could be liable for **income taxes** according to the IRS rules on "constructive receipt."
Melanie Jula Sakoda
Many thanks. As is evident to all by now, I'm not a tax person!
Is my statement about "private inurement" correct? To me, that is the central point in this particular issue.
Again, thanks for the correction.
Martin D. Watt, CPA (Inactive)
#10.1.1.2.1 Marty Watt on 2006-06-02 07:13
I am also not a tax specialist. Keeping that in mind, what you wrote about "private inurement" sounded on the money to me.
Melanie Jula Sakoda
At the risk of sounding like I'm defending Fr. Bob, who the heck cares about his selection of attornies? If I were accused of a crime, I would want the best attorney I could afford. If that lawyer had defended mobsters, so be it. This guilt-by-client association is beneath us. Or it should be.
Are your intimations true or are they scurrilous?
The Other Marty
#10.2 Marty Brown on 2006-05-30 19:04
I confess my intent is scurrilious. Please forgive me.
The choice of this particular attorney, 3,000 miles from his client, strikes me as odd.
Even more odd, we're seeing millions of dollars flow from the United States to Russia under the umbrella and protection of our Heirarchs and clergy, from a huge multinational conglomerate with business interests in Russia. We're hearing allegations (from former and possibly disgruntled employees) of extortion and blackmail, money laundering, and embezzlement.
Those allegations, combined with a pattern of behavior that is less than forthcoming, make me believe there is a chance (however remote) that organized crime might be involved.
Perhaps the conspiracy theorist in me lives too close to the surface.
(the inflammatory one)
#10.2.1 Marty Watt on 2006-06-01 15:10
As you know too well Marty, there is always a reason for obfuscation. Dark secrets are being hidden here. And, as anyone who has done business with Russians or worked in Russia can attest, courruption, double-dealing, and mob rule are daily fare, even for the Church. To what extent has Syosset gotten sucked in to this web of corruption? How many generations will it take in Russia to establish a rule of law? I fear Syosset let itself get lured to the rocky shores by the sirens in Moscow. The Church in Russia is powerful and attuned to the daily corruption of Russian life. Its offspring in America on the other hand is infintesimal by comparison and accountable to American laws; laws that many Russians scoff at. Did the insiders at Syosset give themselves permission to ignore their obligations to live by the laws of their home country? It appears that way more and more.
#10.2.1.1 Name withheld on 2006-06-01 18:14
This post is a perfect example of the problems with this entire site and all within it who continue to draw conclusions and make judgments absent verifiable evidence upon which to base their opinions.
First, are Russians less honest than other folks? I have known some in my time and do not find that to be the case - oh, and I'm Irish, Scottish, English and Castillian Spanish - their ain't a Slavic bone in my rotund body. I seem to remember that there are even a few Russian saints - and some of them were in the Russian Church!
Secondly, "Syosset"?! Excuse me??!! The men and women of the OCA Chancery are human beings and deserve at the very least to be spoken of as such and not as a geographic location! My husband told me that there are those in the OCA who 'hate' the Chancery but I really didn't believe him - until now. One may disagree with the people 'in charge'. One may even criticize and/or decry their actions, but they are still our brothers and sisters in Christ! Indeed, it seems to me that we have descended from demanding an accounting to speculation of items 'revealed' to gossip to condemnation and no one - or very few - seem bothered by that most 'slippery slope'.
Frankly, as this goes on and on, I am thoroughly convinced that the greatest sins and the greatest harm to the Church are being committed not by 'Syosset', but by many of the very people who are calling for 'reform' and 'accountability'. Sad, that....
M. Valerie Protopapas
#10.2.1.1.1 Matuska Valerie Protopapas on 2006-06-02 13:18
Agreed. We are dealing with human beings, all made in the image and likeness of God. All deserving of respect. That is not the issue I raise at all.
My reference to Syosset is a reference to the "culture of concealment" that is apparent. This website did not create that, the leaders of Syosset did... or they let it happen. Reference to Russia was no condemnation of the Russian Church or Russia. Russia is dealing with horrific, endemic problems and one of those that is well acknowledged by cultural historians is corruption.
Is America free of corruption? No. However, it is well-acknowledged that by comparison, Russia has a much worse problem. Did the leaders of Syosset, the Church Administration of the OCA, get caught up in that lawlessness having spent so much time there courting favor? Maybe.
#10.2.1.1.1.1 Anonymous on 2006-06-02 18:55
Please answer one question for me.
Why were so many $9,500 cash disbursements continuously being made by someone at the Chancery?
Perhaps if you can answer that simple question, the questions and demands from the layity regarding accountability will cease.
In case you were not aware, it is a federal offense to circumvent the IRS. The practice is called tax evasion.
I for one am tired of the defensive attitude so many have taken towards the ex-chancellor.
If receipts for charitable giving on behalf of the Church (money which many of US have given out of the kindness of our hearts) can't be produced, and the money is gone without reaching it's intended destination, doesn't that say something???
In addition, $5,600 reimbursed for a trip to Las Vagas? Where was he staying? At the Venetian, the Four Seasons or the Wynn?
Come on already. Everything relating to this smells like rotten eggs.
#10.2.1.1.1.2 Michael Geeza on 2006-06-03 12:00
You seem to be characterizing a Christian response as a naive "Oh well, he didn't have receipts, God bless him, I'm sure he did the right thing" as compared to a pragmatic one being somehow non-Christian. Why is a pragmatic response not Christian also? Why must the naive response be the Christian one? I find nothing unChristian about expecting those entrusted with money being held accountable for proper accounting for its use. I don't think you do either.
My feeling is that if proper accounting has not occured, then those on whose watch this has occured are ultimately responsible and accountable, as if they had spent it themselves as another post has suggested, for personal use. This consequence might loosen the tight lips of those who are not talking about where it went.
#10.3 Name withheld on 2006-05-30 20:28
Dear Al Nonomous
You misread my response.
All I said was that "guilt by association of attorney choice" is beneath the otherwise excellent postings of Mr. Watt.
Don't put words in my mouth.. I said nothing about the adequacy of receipts. I'm as disgusted by the now-apparent events as you are.
#10.3.1 Anonymous on 2006-06-01 19:52
This has become a sad state of affairs. Watching the postings of the supposed "experts" on this site make comment, quoting laws and making reference to specific accounting practices, ALL BASED ON HYPETHETICALS AND WHAT IF'S!. Until the ALL of the facts are revealed, (not partial facts, where the editor, et. al, fill in the blanks) we should reserve judgement. Rumor, conjecture and gossiping are very dangerous things! Because NONE OF US know all the facts this is what everything, so far, is based on!
(Dear Marissa: Please see my reply to Matushka Valerie. Editor)
#11 Marissa Dubinsky on 2006-05-29 08:47
Do you honestly believe that nothing wrong was done or that a certain individual(s) are not guilty? The lack of available receipts for numerous transactions is pretty self-explanatory, isn't it? It has nothing to do with bad filing practices. Doesn't it appear that no receipts exist because someone didn't want receipts to exist?
The fact of the matter remains, the missing monies did NOT belong to whomever used them for WHATEVER reason. They should never had been used other than what they were originally intended for.
Why is it so difficult for people to understand and believe this?
Has anyone thought that perhaps no diffinitive statement has been made by the Church because from a legal standpoint, one can not yet be made at this time.
#11.1 Michael Geeza on 2006-05-29 09:35
It is tempting at more than one level to heed Ms. Dubinsky and M. Protopapas' calls for patience and understanding. I too am disturbed by the accusatory and damning conclusions that some people have reached. I am also disturbed by a seeming lack of charity (and indeed realism) in prejudging the just-concluded Synodal meeting on the basis of abbreviated minutes.
Just put yourselves in the shoes of the Synod members. As a group, you have sanctioned unprecedented financial and legal investigations. Thus, (1) you have given some credence to the allegations published here and elsewhere and (2) you have committed the instututional reputation of the hierachy as a whole and the integriy and honor of the individual membes to a thorough and meaningful investigation and evaluation that would lead to real solutions. I would argue that there cannot be any turning back, even if the Synod was forced to take this action and if some of the members' motivations may not have been sincere. This train has left the station for a specific destination and no substantial deviations can occur without derailing the OCA and affecting the whole church.
I would therefore urge us all to to approach the abbreviated minutes within that greater context. You can't expect the Holy Synod to publish an intrerim report or prelimibary data that may affect persons financially and legally. Otherwise, you cannot expect the minutes to expound the positions of individual bishops regarding the evident and on-going dispute about conciliar v. hierarchical church governance--let us not forget that the OCA does not exist apart from the rest of the Orthodox community.
So, let us be patient and not reach conclusions prematurely. On the other hand, I cannot help but believe that we should remain watchful and continue to ask pertinent questions.
In this regard, this web site, its editor Mark Stokoe, and all others who have publicly posed questions and demanded proper action, are to be commended and not be criticised as bearers of the bad news. In the long run, this episode has the potential of transforming the OCA and all of the church into a healthier and more effective earthly Body of Christ.
#11.2 Carl Kraeff on 2006-05-31 09:15
Absolutely we should ALL be 'watchful' and respectfully demand a full accounting *when they are fully prepared and verified*. However, right now, I don't blame the hierarchs for being wary of putting out information piecemeal as each piece is seized, analyzed and speculated upon without sufficient corroborating evidence to justify anything like the 'conclusions' that at least some people seem to be reaching!
Let us await a full accounting and only when and if that is not forthcoming, then certainly further steps can be taken. If we exhibit Christian patience and charity, then it may be that those involved will be more willing to be open and forthcoming. Right now, however, I can understand why there is a great reluctance by all concerned to do anything that will make them a (further) target of the present 'feeding frenzy'.
M. Valerie Protopapas
#11.2.1 Matuska Valerie Protopapas on 2006-06-01 14:43
Both Fr. Ted and Mr. Watt have raised appropriate questions and offered accurate observations concerning their questions. Procuring a sizable loan to return money from where it was taken and pay outstanding debts is only the tip of the iceburg and the easiest of accomplishments.
At some point, according to the misdeeds committed, some will come to their senses and reach the point of surrendering their ranks and function within the Church for their own salvation. Anyone guilty of unchurchly or criminal activity and not surrendering in good conscience, and procuring an advocate to justify themselves or just waiting for the effects of attrition, in order to retain their dignity, have already renounced and lost their dignity.
My point is this: while this strugggle effects members of the Church, those guilty of any impropriety should remove themselves.
As I have said before, we are all responsible for the Body of Christ, this entity and each other.
Christ has given us the gift of eternal life. Salvation is now! Are the allegations true or false? There are two ways to answer this question, the way of the righteous and the way of the wicked. We may go through the long drawn out struggle in this world of 'my civil rights' and what is 'my due', but in the end the Kingdom of God reigns. What might be heaven for some assuredly will be hell of others. Those involved, please consider my words and act responsibly, without resistance. Be mindful of the words of our beloved St. John of Kronstad, it is better to confess our sins in this life than wait for the next.
#12 John Lickwar on 2006-05-29 17:36
I guess we are seeing typical human, group, and social psychology. (Sorry we aren't seeing too much integrity.) I don't thing the CEOs in ENRON were eager to say either, "I lied," "I messed up," or "I mismanaged money." I think what I heard on the radio is that they are being found guilty because they SHOULD have known what was happening to their company.
It sounds as if it will be outside forces (auditors, investigators, and probably the law) that may bring the needed changed to the OCA.
It will be interesting what the Metropolitan Council will have to say. It will also be interesting to hear about the audits and the investigation. Whether we will find out about these through the meeting with the Metropolitan Council I guess has yet to be determined. Siggghhh.
#13 Patty Schellbach on 2006-05-29 22:19
No one is asking a very obvious question: Why was so much money spent to "refurbish" a house? Did it burn down? Was it destroyed by adverse weather? Was it condemned and had to be rebuilt? To spend the amount of money spent to "refurbish" Fr. Kondradick's house sounds ludicrous.
The cost of a house is more accurately the cost of the land on which it is sitting. Materials and labor don't vary that much from place to place, unless the actual construction is unique and demands specialized components from distant places.
Before any money is paid to the Kondraticks via the promissory note or any other means, the OCA should require an itemized and specific list of all expenditures and vendors involved. If the house was over-developed for the area in which it was located, then that is frivolous, and the OCA should only have to pay for basic safety-related improvements, not frills. In other words, where's the proof that the amount of money claimed for "refurbishment" was actually used to refurbish the Kondratick's house?
This, too, should be part of the disclosure we are looking for. Something is not right here.
#14 Matushka Pearl Homiak on 2006-05-30 22:06
First of all this was NOT the Kondratick house, it was purchased by the OCA as the Cancellors house, not unlike a rectory.
Secondly you must remember that it is located in Nassau County NY. When the house was purchased, at what I believe was a very reasonable price given the area,(I know, I grew up in the area) it was in need of many repairs; kind of a "fixer-upper" or "handy mans special" I think are the terms that realtors use.
Not only was the house in disrepair (having never been updated from the time it was built) but also in need of being brought up to code as far as electrical, plumbing etc.
This house was brought "up to code" in not an extravagant way but to make it a home for the present and future Chancellors.
Through the benevolence of Matushka Bette, this was accomplished and the Kondraticks shared that home, usually at a moments notice with visiting dignitaries, clergy, lay volunteers etc.
I too was in a rectory situation, where I was faced with similar situations, as I am sure you were with Fr. David (May his Memory be Eternal). And I am sure that there were times that we were both a bit skittish about guests in the rectory because the ceiling in the bathroom was falling down.
How would that speak for the Church if that were the case with the OCA owned property housing our Chancellor, whoever that may be.
If you don't trust me as to the property value of houses such as the Martin St. property do a google search and try to price one. It is not a mansion, far from it. It is a very comfortable warm home not unlike the ones a lot of us live in. Three bedrooms, a nice kitchen, smallish dining room, etc.
I understand your frustration at all of this, but please do not throw stones and accusations.
#14.1 Tina Rhodes on 2006-06-01 18:06
The "Notes to the Financial Statements" of The Orthodox Church in America of December 31, 2002, and December 31 3001 state the following.
"5. Plant Assets...Plant assets include improvements to the Church property at 216 Martin Drive in Syosset, commissioned in 1991, which totals "$109,523 plus accrued interest, for a total of $240,000, represented as a loan payable to Fr. Robert Kondratic,"
Matushka, there you see the actual amount spent, that is loaned to the OCA by Matushka Elizabeth Kondratick from her inheritance. When the amount was NOT repaid promptly and the interest theatened to increase the amount due out of all bounds, THEN the OCA issued a Promissory note for the amount due at the time of the NOTE, with the understanding that further interest would not accrue. This was gracious of the Kondraticks, to say the least. Please note, as well, that the note (I repeat, it was signed by Metropolitan Theodosius, Alice Woog, Judge Kalina, and Father PAUL KUCYNDA TWICE and notarized) promised pay-back in installments beginning in installments. I believe, Matushka, that no pay-back has occurred at all. Who should be asking whom "Where's the beef?" Where is the profit to the Kondraticks, Matushka? Are you bearing true witness, Matushka?
#14.2 Bishop Tikhon on 2006-06-01 18:33
I am not that bright - do I read your note correctly - that the cost of the improvements were $109,523 and the accrued interest is $130,477 (which totals $240,000 if my math is right).
...for a loan that can be no more than 11 years or so based on the dates you cite ?
...if that is correct, wouldn't that make the interest rate almost 11.5% ?
...over a period when the federal funds rate averaged about 4% ?
Please tell me I am missing something.
#14.2.1 Peter Baker on 2006-06-02 10:56
Actually, when I plug 109K into a compound interest calculator and a rate of 8% compounded annually, I get $254K. If I swtich it to 5%, I get $186K (all figures approximate). Had the money been invested over this period, it would have gone through one major stock market correction, but probably would have increased to somewhere in the neighborhood of the amount of the note. Certainly if invested until now, even at a low rate in a conservative account, it would be more than $250K.
But I sort of see the note as not the most central issue here.
#220.127.116.11 Rebecca Matovic on 2006-06-02 19:46
Thanks for the insight. To call 2000 a correction is being kind.
It has been suggested here that this loan was a kindly act. I have asked for more details, but those who seem to have them apparently don't want to share them - releasing only part of what they know.
If someone had invested $109,000 and eleven years (and a stock market bubble bursting) later had turned it into $240,000, that would indicate a pretty shrewd investor. I would not, however, classify this type of loan a charitable act, more a business transaction. So unless my calculations are wrong (if they are, someone please correct me), let's dispense with the talk of doing repairs out of the goodness of one's heart.
Again, I would like more facts.
#18.104.22.168.1 Peter Baker on 2006-06-04 22:47
For those asking for patience to await 'facts', think about this-the audits are for two years only. This timeframe in question starts from the early to mid 1990's. How are relevant facts going to be obtained if no one is looking at a relevant timeframe.
Also, the things for which there is some 'apparent' backup material just smell bad.
#15 Anonymous on 2006-06-02 13:38
Yesterday, my husband, Deacon John Protopapas mentioned - as we were talking about this site and what was being said - that a Greek Orthodox individual spoke with amazement at the speed at which the OCA was dealing with this matter. He said that it took ten years for the Greek Archdiocese to even admit to a similar fiscal problem which included missing receipts, misplaced monies etc. etc. He said, according to the Deacon, that it was amazing how forthright and open Church leadership was being on such a touchy issue as money always is.
Our conversation also brought back certain financial problems experienced by the Diocese of New York and New Jersey several years ago in which records had been lost and/or misplaced and there were many other examples of fiscal 'sloppiness' and mismanagment - but no wrongdoing.
Ergo, it would seem that this sort of thing is not an exception within Orthodox Church circles. Of course, that doesn't make it a positive thing either, but it certainly mitigates against it being some deep-dyed plot to pillage the treasury.
In fact, missing receipts do not indicate wrongdoing as some have posited here. More than likely, such matters represent certain failures of underpayed, overworked and untrained people dooing their best to run a Church. But as that explanation does not satisfy the 'conspiracy theorists', I guess it will be ignored and rejected no matter how much proof is eventually forthcoming that it was, after all, the correct one.
M. Valerie Protopapas
#16 Matuska Valerie Protopapas on 2006-06-03 07:27
A correction on my previous post. It took ten years for the Greek Archdiocese to clear the matter up, not to admit that there was a problem. I 'misheard' the good Deacon on that, but then after being married for almost 45 years, 'mishearing' is rather commonplace for both of us.
The point remains, however, that fiscal mismanagement is not a matter unique with the OCA National Church. It happens elsewhere including many parishes and the larger the parish, the more likely it is that it will happen.
Many years ago, my husband was made treasurer of the little parish we attended. I warned them that he was about as 'together' as a dropped bag of marbles and that they were taking the chance that many records might be misplaced, but they insisted. For several years after he left office, I continued to find around the house (or in the car) various minutia that he had 'put somewhere' and forgotten about. The books balanced (thank God) and all the bills were paid, but he was busy at work and at home and by nature is rather disconnected and so it went. I warned them, as I said, but they insisted.
As for actual wrongdoing, if anyone wanted to get rich by stealing, certainly the OCA is the last place on earth for them to go to find any 'pot of gold'.
M. Valerie Protopapas
#16.1 Matuska Valerie Protopapas on 2006-06-03 18:40
When dealing with the volume of funds in question, this is not merely a case of loosing/misplacing a few receipts.
Even if nothing illegal occurred, I would expect that people in these positions would at least have some idea how to keep track of funds - they do have checking accounts, don't they ? The bank expects you to keep track at some level. They've probably still have all the receipts they need for their personal taxes (that's right, someone said all the renovation receipts are intact). It sounds as if you are excusing something that is at least gross negligence.
I hate to keep harping on this loan for renovation, but I wouldn't dismiss the added benefit of living in a house that had just seen $100,000 in renovations (his Grace, Bishop Tikhon has already clarified that the loan was a fairly profitable venture). Again, if I'm missing something, please let me know.
I know people who volunteered for tasks to help their church and got in over their heads. Please don't diminish those hard-working folks by drawing some comparison to the debacle in Syosset.
#16.1.1 Peter Baker on 2006-06-04 23:12
I have indicated that matters were sloppy and, in many instances, ill done. But some of this must arise from the rather 'blurred' nature of much of what goes on in parish, local diocesan and even national governing bodies in the Church. Someone said in an earlier post (I don't know if it was on this thread) that governance was the problem - and they were correct. For far too long, matters were permitted to proceed in the National Chancery from generation to generation in ways that any serious student of business practices would have decried as sure to result in just the kind of mess we are seeing here. Well meaning people often were not 'up' to the task they took on or they had one too many tasks assigned them (that infamous 'straw') and so, their efforts became diffused and often, as a result, less than satisfactory.
Then, of course, there was the problem of relationships. In a business, a manager or owner can fire or chastise underlings who are not performing 'up to snuff'. In the Church, this is a different matter. Yes, the Church has a financial component, but it is not a 'business' and I have no doubt that many competent individuals found themselves unable (or unwilling) to call to account those who were not doing their job at least as it should have been done.
Do these people have checkbooks? Certainly. But how many of us have problems with our own checkbooks and all we have to deal with is our personal finances? Knowing my own weakness in this area, I am loath to criticize someone else for failing to 'perform' with precision. Perhaps a greater blame should be directed at those who permitted such imprecision to continue once it was discovered. But even then, the nature of the relationship among those involved(see above) would make it all the more difficult to deal with such things as many here suggest.
The house is another 'problem'. I remember when the Diocese of New York and New Jersey almost had a civil war over the location of the Bishop's residence - talk about unpleasant! When this sort of thing is the 'norm' - and apparently it is - then I'm not at all surprised if a decision to purchase a 'rectory' for the Chancellor is not bruited about for everyone's 'input'! By the time a decision was made, the Chancellor would probably be in assisted living and the house long sold! Was it a 'wise' expenditure? The people involved thought that it was but whether they were right or wrong, it hardly constitutes a 'capital offense'. Who can deny that for every person who agrees with a decision made by 'those in charge', there will be at least one person who *disagrees*. Waiting for consensus will only result in paralysis. And, of course, that too will be criticized. The matter then becomes one of 'damned if you do and damned if you don't'.
Finally, if indeed, all that has happened here is a matter of malfeasance rather than wrondoing - and by that I mean poor administeration - then I see no reason for all of this hysteria. This sort of thing happens in the Church - in all jurisdictions - from the smallest entities to the largest. Certainly we should all learn from it and try to do better in the future, but the problem in no way rises to the point of demanding resignations of the hierarchs (to be replaced by *whom*, one wonders) or prosecution (and still less *persecution*) of those who have worked tirelessly in the National Chancery for little recompense - or thanks, I might add.
Again, I say that the response to this 'scandal' is, in my opinion, a far larger scandal than that which it purports to expose and address.
M. Valerie Protopapas
#22.214.171.124 Matuska Valerie Protopapas on 2006-06-05 09:02
The tenor of your posts suggests that you have more information than do most of us. You seem convinced that this financial situation is entirely due to systemic dysfunction. In the end, I hope that I can agree with you.
For now though, we just do not know the entire story. Until the entire story is known, then the distrustful speculation will continue. The sooner the entire truth emerges, the sooner we will be able to deal with it and move on - if we feel we can do so.
I, for one, wish that this investigation would end very soon and reveal far less damaging information than has been put forth by so many people. I hope that the cause of all this is solely poor management, but at this point nobody is going to be convinced of this just by virtue of someone in this or any similar forum telling them that it is so. In the meantime, individuals in the Church will speculate rightly or wrongly. They will come to conclusions based on what information currently exists. They will struggle with their fears of what may have transpired over the years and with their fears of how we will go forward if much of that which has been revealed is proven true.
At this point, the entire unvarnished truth needs to emerge, and it needs to emerge quickly.
#126.96.36.199.1 Father Gary J. Breton on 2006-06-05 14:11
No, I have no more information than those on the forum and probably less. However, I am familiar with 'church history', so to speak. I remember problems like this in my parish and my diocese and in other parishes and other diocese and, of course, in other Church jurisdictions. So as this is hardly a unique problem, I am inclined to believe that this is just more of the same poor management together with those problems that arise when people work together for years and no one wants to 'point fingers' when something is amiss.
Furthermore, the letter from the gentleman involved in the Foundations that made funds available for Metropolitan Theodosius to perform charitable works speaks volumes about that particular 'problem'. As well, the person who pointed out that the tax burden falls not on Theodosius who acted as a conduit for the money to various needy persons and groups (and I for one would believe nothing else of Theodosius!) but on the Foundations themselves. The fact that they told the IRS that the money went to 'the Church' does not change the fact that the person responsible said most clearly and cogently that the money was for THEODOSIUS to do with as he saw fit. If the Foundations 'fudged' their tax returns, that is their problem, and not the fault of either OCA or Theodosius! I had someone say to me if these 'millions of dollars' were given to Theodosius, did he declare them on his taxes. Well, if he merely gave the money away - even if he took some part of it for the expenses he incurred in doing so - then I fail to see the wrongdoing. And even if there was some misunderstanding referable to taxes regarding this money, that is between Metropolitan Theodosius and the IRS and is hardly a matter of the Metropolitan pilfering funds from the OCA treasury!
Finally, simple commonsense testifies to the fact that no one who worked in the Chancery is presently in Rio or the Costa del Sol living high on the hog as a result of extensive fraud and embezzlement. In order for there to be a crime - and a criminal - there has to be some reason for the crime. That reason is usually profit (unless one wishes to suppose that these are crimes of passion - some person and/or persons who hate the OCA so much that they are trying to bring about the Church's ruin!). If profit was the motive for all of this, please tell me, who has profited? Where is the 'smoking gun'? Qui bono?? Who is driving around in a Porsche who once rollerskated to work in Syosset? I see no one, nor has anyone been held up as an example of someone who worked in the Chancery and become 'wealthy' as a result of that fact.
Until I see something concrete to the contrary, I must believe from the point of sheer history and reason that what has happened is just another example of poor management and a 'head in the sand' attitude until ignoring the problem was no longer possible. But criminal? I think not and I surely do not want to pass judgment on a brother or sister because he or she made mistakes or tried to - perhaps with the best of motives - protect another person's reputation.
M. Valerie Protopapas
#188.8.131.52.1.1 Matuska Valerie Protopapas on 2006-06-05 17:21
You asked who profited from the financial mismanagement of OCA funds. First of all, we won't know the answer to that question until all of the facts are revealed and all of the money is accounted for.
However, if it is true that Fr. Kondratick lived in a house owned by the OCA and collected a housing allowance at the same time, then we can say that there is some personal profit there.
Expensive (and excessive) overseas trips by large delegations to representational events would also seem to me to fall in the personal profit category. Especially when the OCA did not have enough money to support its programs and needed to "borrow" money earmarked for special funds.
You don't need to be driving a Porsche or living in the Caribbean to have benefited in some way from Syosset's financial mismanagement.
#184.108.40.206.1.1.1 Nina Bilyeu on 2006-06-07 10:15
According to the "Clergy Compensation Handbook" Clergy are not taxed on Housing Allowances given to them if they are living in a house provided by the Church or if they live in their own owned house.
It is not extraordinary nor is it deemed reprehensible. The amount is declared on the annual income tax return of the clergyman. In the event of an audit, the clergyman must show that the houseing allowance was used on the house, that's all. If he used it for utility bills, window-washing services, sewer repair, other expenses considered to accrue through the mere fact of living in house, then he's in the clear. However, anything he did not spend for housing purposes, such as those above, must be returned to the entity providing the housing allowance. The housing allowance is usually part of an employment package and it is in writing and on file so that it can be available for an IRS audit.
Therefore when one suspicious woman wrote this: "However, if it is true that Fr. Kondratick lived in a house owned by the OCA and collected a housing allowance at the same time, then we can say that there is some personal profit there," this merely shows that the woman doesn't know anything about it, about housing allowances, and how ROUTINE they are when clergy live in housing not belonging to them. Ignorance. I'm afraid that ignorance is the main enemy and the fertile field for the Protodeacon's allegations and the popularity of them, especially among some with other axes to grind, some of long standing.
There's nothing like ignorance married to a grudge to stir up muck with which others may be hurt, indifferently.
#220.127.116.11.18.104.22.168 Bishop Tikhon on 2006-06-08 19:26
And I suppose since Fr. Kondratick does not have receipts for the hundreds/thousands/millions of dollars that he dispersed from the OCA treasury, we can assume that he has receipts showing that he spent $ 2000 a month on window cleaning, sewer work, etc.
We have owned a number of homes in our lifetime and can assure you that the expenses for this type of maintenance does not approach $ 2000 a month especially since he (Fr. Kondratick) says that he spent tens of thousands of dollars fixing up the house shortly before.. Of course, being an expert on home maintenance, the bishop may know differently.
I wonder how many homes the bishop has owned and maintained. I suppose as he once said on the Indiana list, a single man knows more about marriage problems than a married person since he would be detached from the problem and thus, since he personally did not own any houses, he can speak about house maintenance in a more detached manner than a homeowner.
For a man who admits he is not a canonist, he surely does spout off about the canons. Also, for a man who admits that he is not a lawyer, he surely does spout off about what he thinks the law says re contracts, admissability of evidence, etc. In short, if you read the Indiana list archives you will find hundreds of post by this man on every conceivable topic on which he gives his expert opinion. How many more days to November?
#22.214.171.124.126.96.36.199.1 nicholas skovran on 2006-06-10 06:00
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