Accusations of stealing more than $100,000 from his parish have led to the prosecution of an associate priest from Washington County, Pennsylvania, on grave criminal accusations. On suspicion of stealing, forgery, and unauthorized taking of cash, Father George Athanasiou of the All Saints Greek Orthodox Church in North Strabane was placed under arrest in November. In this instance, the damaging effects of problem gambling are shown by the fact that Athanasiou acknowledged having a gambling issue when pressed.
The accusations against Father Athanasiou center on claims that he illegally cashed cheques to take about $117,000 from the church. April 2022 is when the assistant priest, who had been with the church for over five years, is said to have started stealing money. Athanasiou, who was charged with 223 counts of theft, forgery, and unauthorized taking of cash, chose not to have a preliminary hearing and was granted bail in exchange for having to have a mental health assessment performed.
Connection to Problem Gambling
The possibility that problem gambling and criminal activity are related is highlighted by Athanasiou’s admission that he has a gambling problem. People with gambling problems frequently turn to dishonest or fraudulent means of obtaining money in order to support their addictions. People are deemed innocent until proven guilty, a point that is important to remember even though the allegations against the assistant priest provide a clear illustration.
After being arrested, Athanasiou’s case was first within the jurisdiction of the District Attorney’s Office for Washington County, but it was subsequently transferred to the Office of Attorney General of Pennsylvania. This decision was made in response to worries expressed over possible conflicts of interest stemming from reports that several County District Attorney’s Office employees were All Saints Greek Orthodox Church members.
Pat Thomassey, Athanasiou’s defense lawyer, indicated preparations for restitution and said that the church community is still behind him despite the grave accusations. In an apparent attempt to address the financial fallout from the claimed theft, Thomassey declared, “We’re gonna pay back all this money, every cent.”
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