Bedford priest charged in scheme to defraud church of more than $250,000

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CLEVELAND, Ohio (WJW) – A 52-year-old priest from Bedford has been indicted by a federal grand jury for allegedly defrauding multiple local churches.

According to the Department of Justice, Andrey Kovalenko, previously worked for the Shrine of Mariapoch in Burton, Saint John Hungarian Byzantine Catholic Church in Solon and Saint Eugene Byzantine Catholic Church in Bedford Heights.

He is accused of embezzling $293,989 from all three institutions over a four year span.

“This defendant is accused of using his position as a priest to embezzle funds intended to serve his parishioners and the community,” said U.S. Attorney Justin Herdman. “The defendant’s alleged embezzlement was so wide-ranging that at least one local parish suffered financial ruin. He must now answer for these actions in federal court.”

Officials said Saint Eugene Byzantine Catholic Church was closed due to its financial condition.

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