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Greek church gets payback

Greek church gets payback
Queens DA Richard Brown (c.), joined by state Racing and Wagering Board Chairman John Sabini and state Police Capt. Jaime Kaminski, presents a check for $830,000 to Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America Vice Chancellor Rev. Michael Kontogiorgis. Standing are Deputy Executive Assistant District Attorney Linda Cantoni (l. to r.), Sabini, Executive Assistant District Attorney Peter A. Crusco, Kontogiorgis, Kaminski, Police Investigator John Alfalla, Police Senior Investigator Randolph Donaldson and DA intern Iris Vuki. Photo courtesy Queens DA
By Rich Bockmann

Rev. Michael Kontogiorgis could well have yelled “Bingo!” after receiving a check last week for $830,000.

The vice chancellor of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America was presented with the check by Queens District Attorney Richard Brown, state Racing and Wagering Board Chairman John Sabini and state Police Major John McCabe as restitution for money stolen from the archdiocese through a bingo scam.

The money was forfeited by Spiros Moshopoulos, 62, of Browvale Lane near 51st Avenue in Little Neck, as one of the conditions imposed after he and several others were found guilty of running bingo games in the name of various inactive charities and then pocketing the cash.

“The defendants have admitted to duping the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America into allowing them to run a bingo hall, the profits of which were supposed to go to specific charitable causes. Instead, however, the defendants lined their own pockets with hundreds of thousands of dollars belonging to the charities. Under the circumstances, the disposition, which includes felony guilty pleas and full reimbursement to the Greek Orthodox Church, is a fair, just and reasonable resolution of the matter,” Brown said in a press statement.

According to the DA’s office, Moshopoulos, along with Tommy Skiada and Daniella Radulescu, both of Astoria, used illegally obtained bingo licenses to operate daily games through their company, Simos Enterprises Inc., at the Bingo 82 bingo hall at 82-18 Northern Blvd. in Jackson Heights.

The defendants promised the monies would be going to charities under the umbrella of the Romanian Orthodox Church of Saints Constantine and Helen, which is under the direct canonical supervision of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America, the DA said.

In February, the defendants pleaded guilty to second-degree grand larceny before Queens Supreme Court Justice Stephen Knopf, who sentenced them in April to three-year conditional discharges, the DA said.

Moshopoulos agreed to forfeit a total of $1 million — $830,000 to the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America — as restitution for the stolen charitable bingo funds and an additional $170,000 as statutory forfeiture, the DA said. He also agreed to a lifetime ban from any licensed bingo activity and dissolved his corporation, according to the DA’s office.

Moshopoulos and the other defendants — and any entities controlled by or used by them — also surrendered their bingo licenses, the DA said. Should they violate any of the conditions of the plea, the defendants could be resentenced to up to 15 years in prison, according to the DA’s office.

Reach reporter Rich Bockmann by e-mail at [email protected] or by phone at 718-260-4574.

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