Three people arrested in church bingo scam

August 18, 2010 10:51:47 AM PDT
Three people have been charged in a church bingo scam that netted hundreds of thousands of dollars, prosecutors said.

"The defendants are accused of duping the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America into allowing them to run a bingo hall whose profits were supposed to go to specific charitable causes," Queens District Attorney Richard Brown said. "Instead of doing God's work, however, the defendants are alleged to have lined their own pockets with hundreds of thousands of dollars belonging to the charities."

Spiros Moshopoulos, 62, of Little Neck, Queens; Tommy Skiada, 49, of Astoria, Queens; and Daniella Radulescu, 46, of Astoria, Queens are facing numerous charges of larceny, money laundering and illegal gambling in connection with the scam. Moshopoulos' corporation, Spimos Enterprises Inc. in Jackson Heights, is also named in the 714-count indictment.

They are accused of operating a licensed bingo hall and using licensed charitable organizations as a front to steal approximately $830,000 between January 2007 and February 2010.

The bingo hall was located at 82-18 Northern Boulevard in Jackson Heights. The games were allegedly operated in the name of various inactive charities under the umbrella of the Romanian Orthodox Church of Sts. Constantine & Helen, located at 25-27 23rd Street, which is under the direct canonical supervision of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America.

Prosecutors said they obtained the licenses illegally and used the charities as a front to siphon monies from the gaming for their own profit. Bingo games were allegedly conducted daily at the location by people posing as members of various charities.

The defendants are also accused of cheating the New York City Department of Consumer Affairs out of approximately $20,000 in fees.

"This indictment sends a loud and clear message that unscrupulous activity in the name of registered charitable and religious organizations has serious consequences - including prison time. The bingo licensing law was enacted to protect charitable gaming funds from being misappropriated and looted," Wagering Board Chairman John Sabini said.

The defendants were arrested Wednesday morning.