Friday, September 23, 2011

Former Oakland church treasurer ordered to repay almost $400,000 in California


A former treasurer of an Oakland church who stole more than $400,000 from parish coffers was sentenced to a year of electronic monitoring Friday and ordered to repay most of the money taken from the St. Vartan Armenian Apostolic Church.

In a plea deal with the Alameda County District Attorney's Office, which appeared to frustrate several church members, Gary Alexanian, 47, was found guilty of grand theft instead of the more serious embezzlement crime he was originally charged with.
In addition, Alexanian agreed to repay the money he stole, submit to a year of electronic monitoring and serve five years probation.
Parish members declined to comment after the sentencing Friday but in a letter to the probation department, the parish council said Alexanian deserved prison time for stealing.
"A crime of this size cannot be rewarded with simply a probationary scolding," the letter stated. "The criminal activity perpetrated by Mr. Alexanian has shaken the Church to its core, profoundly impacting the parish community."
Alexanian, who was baptized at the church, had stolen the money during his more than decade long tenure as the parish's treasurer. The money was gathered, church members have said, through bake sales and other yearly fundraising events.
In the letter to the probation department, the parish council said they erred in putting full trust in Alexanian who they said began stealing within the first 45 days he was appointed treasurer.
Michael Cardoza, Alexanian's defense attorney, said his client is sorry for his actions and began to steal because of financial pressures in his life.

In a letter to the court, Alexanian said he was ashamed and said his actions have led to a crumbling of his life, which includes a pending divorce demanded by his wife and ostracization from the Bay Area Armenian community.
"Because of my actions, my wife has moved for a legal separation, we are losing the house and I have personally lost some of my family members, and all of my friends," Alexanian wrote. "I acknowledge that it was selfish, stupid, and before long, things just got out of control."
Cardoza said his client hopes the church members will eventually be able to forgive him.
"What was most shocking to me is the first issue was repayment of money. Not one member of the church ever asked him how he was doing," Cardoza said. "We hope that the church, in their hearts, can forgive him."

No comments:

Post a Comment