MOVING FORWARD: NEW CHAIRMAN CLAIMS INTERNAL PROBE CLEARS ARMENIAN GENOCIDE MEMORIAL COMMITTEE OF ALLEGED IMPROPRIETY

Pasadena Weekly, CA
Oct 30 2014

By Andre Coleman 10/30/2014

Responding to allegations of financial impropriety made by its former
chairman, former Pasadena Mayor Bill Paparian, the Pasadena Armenian
Genocide Memorial Committee (PASAGMC) issued a statement last week
indicating an internal investigation into Paparian's claims found no
wrongdoing involving the group's finances.

"After a thorough review by the board, it is clear that the allegations
made by Mr. Paparian represent, at best, a gross distortion of the
facts and, at worst, a concerted campaign to mislead the community,"
the statement reads. Paparian served as the group's chairman until
resigning late last month.

At that time, Paparian's main complaints were leveled against the
committee's treasurer, David Gevorkyan, who Paparian said was not
truthful about his work and education history.

"While the board cannot control what the prior chairman says, his
saying them does not make them true. His actions both prior to and
since his resignation were hurtful to the project and not in keeping
with legal ethics," reads the group's statement.

Paparian, who could not be reached for comment on this story,
was replaced as PASAGMC chairman by Board member Bernard Melekian,
a former Pasadena police chief and city manager.

Members of PASAGMC board include Melekian and former Assemblyman
Anthony Portantino.

Melekian said that the group has been assured by its CPA that the
PASAGMC's IRS nonprofit status is current and secure and that there
are no financial irregularities regarding any funds that have been
collected.

"The goal is to finish the project," Melekian told the Pasadena
Weekly on Monday morning. "We have raised about 50 percent of the
money we need. I think Bill contributed a great deal to the project,
but I think he may have forgotten this is for the community and not
for any one person."

Great Cities

The PASAGMC has been raising money for an Armenian Genocide memorial
since 2012. The memorial honors the 1.5 million people killed in the
Armenian Genocide by the Ottoman Turkish Regime from 1915 to 1923.

Along with the Jewish Holocaust and the enslavement of African
Americans, the Armenian Genocide remains one of the darkest moments in
human history. To this day, the Turkish government denies the events
ever happened.

The $400,000 monument will be placed on the north side of Pasadena's
Memorial Park, which traditionally has only ever been used to honor war
veterans. It is scheduled to be completed and dedicated in April 2015
to mark the 100th anniversary of the genocide. According to Melekian,
the group has so far raised about $200,000.

The memorial's design, created by Art Center College of Design student
Catherine Menard, will include a tripod from the tip of which drops of
water will fall into a carved stone basin. Every drop -- 1.5 million
a year -- symbolizes a teardrop for a life lost in what has come to
be known as the Great Crime.

Melekian said that the group has confirmed that no money was given
illegally and that the money does not stay in the committee's hands.

Instead, he said, it is turned over to a community foundation.

Paparian announced his resignation from the PASAGMC in a press release
on Sept. 29. Board members were unaware of Paparian's intentions
to step down and Melekian -- who now chairs the board -- said he
was informed about Paparian stepping down after being contacted for
comment by the Weekly.

"California law requires that the board of directors carry out
their responsibilities in good faith and with such care, including
reasonable inquiry, as would be used by an ordinary prudent person,"
Paparian said in his statement. "It is my belief that the board has
failed in that fiduciary obligation owed to the community."

In his statement, Paparian claimed that some of the professional
background information provided by PASAGMC Treasurer David Gevorkyan
proved to be untrue, including his work as a certified treasury
professional, and his past work as a city employee in West Hollywood,
Sierra Madre and Pasadena.

"I have proudly served the Pasadena, West Hollywood and Sierra Madre
communities," Gevorkyan told the Weekly. "The accusations that I
have never worked there are false. I would proudly work in any of
these places again. I never claimed to be a full-time employee. I
never made the claim that I was in a relationship with a city that I
was not in and I have never claimed to receive money that I did not
earn. These are great cities doing wonderful things and, if called
upon, I would serve any of them again."

According to documents found online, Gevorkyan has been serving as an
audit commissioner for the city of Glendale since June 11, 2013. He
is also a Bond Oversight Commissioner for the Glendale Unified School
District, according to the city's website.

'No Response'

Writing at thetruthmustbetold.com, blogger Ara K. Manoogian claimed
that Gevorkyan provided possibly misleading information about both
his work history and education.

According to Manoogian, Gevorkyan said he had a bachelor's degree in
public administration from Cal State, Northridge. He also claimed to
have been in the Berkeley Executive Program (EIP) at UC Berkeley and
was a member of the Association for Financial Professionals.

Although he initially claimed he was a certified treasury professional
(CTP) on his LinkedIn account on Oct. 11, that distinction was removed
from LinkedIn by Oct. 14.

Gevorkyan told the Weekly that he never claimed to be a certified
treasury professional and that the title appeared under the education
part of his Linkedin profile because it was the name of a course he
was taking. He said he did not make the edit on his profile and had
no idea who changed it.

An official at CSUN told the Weekly that Gevorkyan graduated from
the college with a bachelor's degree in political science, not public
administration, in 2009.

Gevorkyan worked as a paid contractor and as an intern with the city
of Pasadena, according to city Budget Director Richard Davis. An
official in Sierra Madre said he was a volunteer there five years ago,
and another official in West Hollywood was not immediately available
for comment.

A PASAGMC webmaster allegedly removed Gevorkyan's bio after discovering
the alleged discrepancies with his resume. After he reported the
information to the board, the PASAGMC severed all ties with the
webmaster and took no action on the allegations.

Paparian said he substantiated the claims through a background check
performed by another municipality, which noted alleged discrepancies in
Gevorkyan's professional and educational background on an application
for an advisory committee in Glendale.

Paparian said Gevorkyan also failed to file the proper documents
with the state Attorney General's Office's Registry of Charitable
Trusts, which is required before groups can legally accept charitable
donations.

After the information about Gevorkyan was made known to other board
members, Paparian at the time said "their response was no response."

A defense attorney by profession, Paparian became the city's first --
and only -- Armenian-American mayor when he served in that position
from 1995-97.

During that time, Paparian successfully campaigned for a memorial
dedicated to soldiers who fought in Vietnam to be placed in Memorial
Park.

"I am the first-born son of a survivor of the Armenian Genocide and
have dedicated myself to the pursuit of justice for the Armenian
nation all of my adult life, and this was a major focus for my 12
years as an elected official," Paparian said. "For the past two and a
half years I have worked tirelessly on the Armenian Genocide project."

Controversial Project

The memorial has been controversial since it was first proposed in
2012. In August of that year, a contingent from the Turkish consul in
Los Angeles drew the ire of Pasadena's Armenian community during an
August 2012 visit to Pasadena when they called the proposed memorial
offensive.

Paparian had a public feud with former City Council candidate Chris
Chahinian, who broke off from the PASAGMC. Chahinian formed the
Armenian Community Coalition (ACC) and proposed a separate memorial to
the victims of the genocide. The ACC memorial is also expected to be
completed by 2015. In an article published in the Weekly in December
2012, Paparian called Chahinian's submission "a warmed-over reject."

Chahinian would not comment on the controversy involving PASAGMC.

The ACC is currently raising money for a float in the 2015 Rose Parade
which will be dedicated to the survivors of the genocide.

http://pasadenaweekly.com/cms/story/detail/moving_forward/13733/


From: Baghdasarian