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Ex-pastor admits he committed tax fraud

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  • Ex-pastor admits he committed tax fraud

    Times Union, Albany, NY
    March 20 2004

    Ex-pastor admits he committed tax fraud

    Albany -- Former Troy priest who stole church funds and failed to
    report income on his taxes takes a plea deal

    By MICHELE MORGAN BOLTON, Staff reports

    A priest who embezzled thousands of dollars from his congregation's
    collection plate pleaded guilty to tax fraud Friday in federal
    district court after admitting that he failed to report the stolen
    money to the Internal Revenue Service.
    Megerdich Megerdichian, 47, the former pastor of Troy's Holy Cross
    Armenian Apostolic Church, could be sentenced to three years in
    prison, a year of supervised release and fined $250,000 when he is
    sentenced on June 14. He is currently living in Cranston, R.I. No
    further information was available Friday night.

    Megerdichian took the plea deal offered by federal prosecutor Steven
    A. Tyrrell during an appearance before U.S. District Judge Lawrence
    E. Kahn.

    The priest led the Troy parish for 16 years, according to information
    provided by U.S. Attorney Glenn Suddaby and IRS Special Agent in
    Charge Anne Marie Coons.

    Church finances were controlled by a four-member board during
    Megerdichian's tenure at the church, officials said. They were
    signatories on all church accounts and were required to approve
    church expenditures.

    But from at least May 1995 until sometime in late 1997, those board
    members had no idea that the priest had established a private account
    at a Fleet Bank in Troy in which he deposited thousands of dollars in
    checks made out to the church.

    Board members were unaware the account existed, Suddaby and Coons

    Megerdichian used some of the money for personal expenses and then
    "knowingly and willfully" failed to declare the income on his federal
    tax returns, they said: "This resulted in an underpayment ... of

    Megerdichian was removed from ministry in 1998 and required in 2000
    to repay the parish in full. As part of Friday's plea deal, he also
    must pay restitution to the IRS.
    From: Baghdasarian