||A Chronology of the Scandal:
An August 1993 internal OCA memo concerning the 1992 Financial Statement of the OCA, warns that shortcomings inthe OCA financial procedures, including inaccurate data, untimely reports, problems in the documentation of disbursements and a failure to separate duties, threatens the “financial integrity of the Church.” The memo, addressed to Fr. Robert Kondratick, Chancellor, Treasurer Fr. Paul Kucynda, and Secretary to the Metropolitan Deacon Eric Wheeler, from the three-man OCA Audit Committee, notes that some of these failings had been known since 1990, and that this “...lack of accounting policies cannot continue.”
(0) Read the 1993 Audit Committee memo
- On June 26, 1997, after
completing the official 1996 audit of the Orthodox Church
in America (OCA), the Audit Committee of the OCA sends an
official memo to Metropolitan Theodosius (Primate of the
OCA), the Very Rev. Fr. Robert Kondratick (Chancellor of
the OCA), and Protodeacon Eric Wheeler (Treasurer of the
OCA) warning that the documentation concerning certain OCA
American Express accounts controlled by individuals “are outside of good business practice
and accounting principles.” They “strongly
encourage” this be rectified in 1997 so as to avoid “adverse
(1) Read the Audit Committee memo
In October 1997, Wheeler discovers that a $250,000
check sent to the Church by the Archer Daniels Midland
(ADM) Foundation was not deposited into the audited
bank accounts of the OCA but a secret “discretionary
Wheeler subsequently refuses
to sign off on the financial reports of the Orthodox
Church in America for the years 1997 and 1998; “Draft
submitted to the administrative bodies of the church
instead. He is forbidden by +Theodosius or Kondratick to discuss the recommendations of the Audit Committee or the existence of the "discretionary account" with the Metropolitan Council.
In May 1999,
as he reviews the 1998 audit, an accountant with
Lambrides, Lamos, Malthroup & Co. (Rob Taylor,
CPA) is alerted to an unrecorded 1998 donation of $250,000
to the OCA by the ADM Foundation. Taylor informs the Chairman
of the OCA’s Audit Committee (John Kozey)
of the discrepancy.
On June 20, 1999, Wheeler reveals to Taylor
and Kozey the existence of a secret “discretionary
account”, controlled by Metropolitan Theodosius
into which the ADM monies, and other
OCA monies, have been placed. The 1998 audit is placed “on
hold” by Taylor and Kozey pending an audit of this
hitherto unknown account.
On July 8, 1999, at a meeting of Kondratick, Wheeler, Kozey, Taylor, the Audit Committee and the OCA's lawyer (Jonathan Russin) a "special review" is agreed upon whereby a new accounting firm, to be nominated by Russin and approved by the Audit Committee, will audit +Theodosius' discretionary account within 60 days. Russin insists that the results be communicated to him alone so they will be protected by "attorney-client privilege". (3.5) Read excerpts from the Minutes of that meeting
On July 14, 1999, the Audit Committee informs
Metropolitan Theodosius of the agreement.
(4) Read the
Audit Committee’s memo
On July 26, 1999, at the Holy Synod meeting
that opens the All American Council in Pittsburgh, Metropolitan
Theodosius urges the Synod to reaffirm the "principle"
of the Primate’s “right” to maintain a discretionary
account. So as to maintain the “privacy of the
the “confidentiality of the donors” and
of the beneficiaries” the Synod rejects an audit
of such an account in principle. No mention, however, is made to
the Holy Synod of the sums involved in the account.
Read the Holy Synod’s
Unable to audit the account,
and unwilling to certify the audit without them, the
Audit Committee does not give its final 1998 report to
the All American Council (July 26-30, 1999). No mention is
made of the administrative stalemate, or its root causes, to
the Council by either the Metropolitan, Kondratick or Wheeler. Wheeler ends his report with a cryptic warning aimed +Theodosius: "For a brief time in history, those of us placed in positions of administrative leadership are given the awesome responsibility of being wise stewards of the material resources of the Church. We will be held accountable before God for this. But we are also accountable to you, the clergy and faithful who provide us with the prayerful support and material resources to carry out the work of the Church."
On July 30, 1999, at
the Metropolitan Council meeting that concludes the
All American Council, Metropolitan Theodosius reappoints Fr.
Kondatrick for another three year term, but declines to
reappoint anyone else for the full triennium.
On September 21, 1999, fully a week after the “special
review” of the secret discretionary account was
to have concluded, Kozey writes to the Metropolitan complaining
that no review has been undertaken. He formally asks for
access to all accounts.
Read Kozey’s letter to Metropolitan Theodosius
That same day, Kondratick
and Wheeler travel to South Canaan PA to meet with
Archbishop Herman of Eastern Pennsylvania to fully explain the problem
and discuss the ongoing stalemate.
The following day, September 22, 1999, Wheeler
is informed he has been removed from employment at the Chancery. Archbishop
Herman is appointed “Acting Treasurer”.
Later that same day, September 22, 1999, Taylor
writes to the new acting Treasurer, +Herman, to inform
him that the 1998 audit has not been completed “because
the Church has not made available all financial records
and relevant data.”
Read Taylor’s letter
On September 28, 1999, Taylor writes to +Herman
again informing him that “reportable conditions” exist
in Syosset accounts, and attaches a letter dated June 21,1999
that details how the structural problems that allowed these
conditions to arise might be corrected.
letter to +Herman
That same day, Kozey informs the Metropolitan
Council of the existence of "at least one" unaudited “discretionary
account”, and furthermore, that since 1992 “significant
amounts “of money were “not on the Church accounting
records”. By expanding the circle of those who know,
Kozey moves the “stalemate” into a “crisis”.
Read Kozey’s letter to the Metropolitan Council
On September 29, 1999, Metropolitan Theodosius
presents a “reorganization” plan to the Lesser Synod
that officially “redefines” the office of Treasurer
and “outsources the majority of technical financial
operations”. This “reorganization” is
surpising to many since no “reorganization” had
been even hinted at the AAC only 2 months earlier.
Read the OCA Press Release announcing the “reorganization”;
(11) Read the July 26, 1999 Address of the Primate
to the AAC
On October 1, 1999,Wheeler refuses to comment
on his dismissal, or on the discretionary account, to concerned
Metropolitan Council members, citing an “ecclesiastical
gag order” that threatens him with suspension
should he do so.
(12) Read The Orthodox News Story
On October 8, 1999, Kozey writes to all members
of the Metropolitan Council again, confirming that
the Audit Committee will be available to discuss the crisis
during the upcoming Metropolitan Council meeting in
(13) Read Kozey’s
On October 18, 1999, Kozey is informed he has
been removed as Chairman of the Audit Committee by the “Administrative
Committee” of the Metropolitan Council, headed by
Kondratick, as Chancellor. While Kozey may remain a member
of the Audit Committee, the Committee expresses disappointment
for “his unilateral action in revealing the existence
of the discretionary accounts” to the entire Metropolitan
the Adminstrative Council’s
memo to Kozey as quoted in Orthodox News 11/99
On November 9, 1999, Kozey responds in a letter
informing the Metropolitan Council that not only has
review” of the discretionary accounts not been undertaken
during the period specified, but no review has been undertaken
at all. He warns Council members of their fiduciary responsibilities
as officers of a non-profit institution chartered in the
state of New York.
Read Kozey’s response
On November 15, 1999, the church “crisis” becomes
a public “scandal” as the story, together with
Kozey’s letters to the Metropolitan Council, are
posted on OrthodoxNews.com.
(16) Read the Orthodox News
On November 17, 1999,
Orthodox News reveals that the amount placed in the
secret discretionary account was in fact twice as large ($500,000)
as had been originally reported two days earlier.
Read the Orthodox News story
On November 18, 1999, the Metropolitan Council
meets in Syosset. While confirming the “special review” is
now underway, Metropolitan Theodosius and Archbishop Herman
refuse to discuss any details, including who is performing
the special review, what it entails, and when it would
be completed. While the Council unanimously agrees to “ do
what is right” and “to do it in the right way”,
the meeting is tense. The published press release was not
Read the Metropolitan Council’s
In December 1999, publicly available documents
reveal more than $1 million in contributions from ADM
to the OCA - none of which appears on church records. See
ADM’s own records of their donations to the OCA from
1992 -1999 at the National Center for Charitable Stastics
website at nccsdataweb.urban.org (The OCA is listed under
its former legal name of “The Russian Orthodox Greek
On January 3, 2000, Orthodox News reveals that
more than $2 million has been placed in the secret account between
1992 - 1999. To put this amount in perspective, the
amounts placed in the “discretionary account” in 1996
alone were equal to more than 50% of the “official” OCA
budget of that year. The continuing revelations – and
growing amount of monies involved – moves the “scandal” beyond
one of simple financial mismanagement to one of larger
questions involving accountability in the Church.
Read the Orthodox News story
Attempts by members of the Metropolitan Council
to have the Church Administration address these issues
meet with denial, stonewalling and intimidation. Some
members were forbidden to attend meetings, others forced into
silence. Those clergy and laity who continued to raise questions
in private, in public or on the internet, about glaring
discrepancies in OCA finances - including new questions
about the management of charitable funds - are openly
(20) Read former Met
Council member Greg Nescott’s
Read former Met Council member Mark Stokoe’s
January 2000 Report to the Midwest Diocesan Council;
Read Stokoe’s letter to his Dean on what happened
at that meeting.
On January 17, 2000, Kondratick receives an
email from Richard Rock, formerly of Martinez & Murphy, now of R & T Design Group in Las Vegas.
Rock encourages Kondratick
to remain silent. He promises to work with Michael Kennedy
(the Metropolitan’s personal attorney) in the next
few days to create a “statement” about the
long-awaited “special review” for +Herman.
Read Rock’s email
Subsequently, +Herman receives a post-dated
letter from Kennedy informing him that an accounting firm
- selected by Kennedy “on behalf of Metropolitan Theodosius” -
has completed a “review” of the discretionary
accounts from 96-98. Kennedy informs +Herman that the accounts “require
no modifications for them to be in accordance with accepted
accounting principles”. No mention is made of donors,
beneficiaries, expenses, or amounts that may be involved.
(24) Read Kennedy’s
On March 9, 2000, following +Herman’s instructions,
Taylor submits the ‘97 &’98 audits with
the proviso that “ ...our audit was limited to the
Accounts of the Treasurer and do not cover all the accounts
of the Church itself.” Taylor’s firm is subsequently
(25) Read Taylors’ Letter
On March 29, 2000, the long-awaited ‘97 &’98
audits of the OCA are released – with only 2 of the
3 necessary signatures. When former chairman Kozey refuses
to sign the audit, the current Chairman (Archpriest Paul
Suda) is later quoted in Orthodox News (5.10.00) that: “Two
out of three ain’t bad.”
On April 12, 2000, Orthodox
News reveals more than $3 million in unreported funds
have now been traced as having gone into a secret discretionary
account controlled by +Theodosius between
(27) Read the Orthodox News Story
On April 17, 2000, the Metropolitan Council
hears from +Theodosius that with the completed audits and
the issue “has been brought to a close”.
Read Metropolitan Theodosius’s Report to the
On May 5, 2000, Kozey replies to the Audit Committee,
outlining the crisis and the dangers facing the church
if the scandal is not dealt with properly. However,
with all the major figures dismissed, vocal members of the
Metropolitan Council silenced and with the failure of the
OCA hierarchy, Metropolitan Council, clergy or laity to demand
action, the scandal begins to fade...
(29) Read Kozey’s
In 2002, Metropolitan
Theodosius retires and is replaced by +Herman. Kondratick
is reappointed as Chancellor.
In June 2005, the Midwest
Diocese adopts a resolution opposing any increase in
the OCA assessment at the forthcoming All American Council
(AAC) in Toronto until the integrity of the finances of
the OCA can be assured. The Diocese asks for a full accounting
at the AAC.
(30) Read the Midwest Resolution (coming soon)
In a letter dated June 29, 2005, from Kondratick,
the Midwest Diocese’s request for a full accounting
of the OCA finances at the 2005 All American Council in
Toronto is denied.
Read Syosset’s reply
On July 6, 2005, Archbishop Job sends Kondratick’s
reply to all his priests with a pointed cover letter.
Read +Job’s letter
Shortly before, and immediately
after the AAC in Toronto (July 17-22 2005) Wheeler
speaks with +Job.
On October 17, 2005, Wheeler writes privately
to +Herman and the Holy Synod of massive financial irregularities
during his time at Syosset (1988-1999) in hopes that
action will be taken at the Synod’s Fall Meeting. Wheeler
makes several new allegations, including misuse
of charitable and appeal funds, bequests and other funds
by Kondratick, among others. He encourages the Metropolitan
to “clean house”.
On November 1, 2005, having received no response
from +Herman, Wheeler breaks his long public silence
on the scandal. Wheeler writes a second letter to +Herman
and copies this letter, together with his previous
letter, to the Metropolitan Council.
(36) Read Wheeler’s
- Within 14 hours, on November 2, 2005, major
excerpts of Wheeler’s letters are made public on the
internet. The scandal erupts anew.
(37) Read the story
- On November 9, 2005, at the meeting of the Metropolitan Council, +Herman announces an audit of
the last two years (2004 & 2005) and agrees to institute “Best
Practices” for non-profits beginning in 2006. He
continues to refuse an audit of the other years in question
- In November 2005, priests who speak
out on the scandal - even on private internet lists - are
threatened by +Herman with suspension if they continue. Nevertheless,
increasing numbers of clergy and laity continue to call for action. A posting by Fr. Jason Kappanadze received an especially strong reaction - pro and con.
Read Fr. Jason Kappanadze’s posting of November 21; and (38.5)
notice to desist.
(39) Read the article “Moves & Countermoves”
- In middle November - early December 2005, Archbishop
Job begins meetings in every deanery in the Midwest with
all local OCA clergy “to apologize on behalf of the
Church” for letting his priests down in regards to
the ongoing financial scandal. He openly discusses the “crisis” concerning
the financial practices of the OCA.
(40) Read the Minutes
of the Columbus Deanery Meeting (Excerpts)
- On December 17, 2005, +Job’s letter to Metropolitan
Herman of November 28 is published on the internet. In
the letter the Archbishop explicitly calls for an audit
and for accountability. That same day, a second letter
to Herman from Fr. Dmitry Grigorieff, former Dean of the
OCA’s National Cathedral, one of the oldest and most
respected priests in the OCA, dated November 27, is posted
calling for the same.
Read Fr. Grigorieff’s letter
- On December 20, 2005, through an email from
his Chancellor to his diocesan clergy, Archpriest John Zdinak,
+Job announces that +Herman has agreed to place the
issue on the agenda of the Lesser Synod meeting in January,
and that +Herman has asked him to refrain from further comment
on the scandal until that time. +Job asks his clergy
to refrain from commenting or posting on the clergy list
until after the meeting as well. He emphasizes this is not “a
gag order” but “a request to assist ( +Job)
in facilitating a responsible action of the Synod of Bishops.”
Read +Job’s request.
- On January 7, 2006 OCANews.org goes
online as a news and documentary resource concerning
the scandal, and as a forum for Orthodox Christians concerned
about the Orthodox Church In America’s ongoing
lack of financial accountability.
- For events beyond January 7,
2006, please see “The
To view documents you will need Adobe
Reader (or Adobe Acrobat)