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


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