UPDATE: Man pleads guilty to embezzling from Venice church
The former administrator of a Venice church, accused of embezzling funds, will not go to jail as part of a plea deal.
Robert Kondratick was arrested in March for embezzling more than $50,000 from Holy Spirit Orthodox Church, 700 Shamrock Blvd.
The case was supposed to go to trial this week, but instead Kondratick entered a guilty plea on Oct. 16 to a second-degree felony charge of larceny, court records show.
He agreed to serve two years of community control and eight years of probation, said Assistant State Attorney Erika Quartermaine. He will also pay restitution.
“If he had pressed that case to trial, there is a good chance he would have been found not guilty,” his defense attorney, Derek Byrd, said. However, to avoid the possibility of a conviction and jail time, Kondratick agreed to the plea offer.
Church leaders told the Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office that Kondratick requested signed blank checks to pay what he claimed were church expenses. But an investigation revealed he cashed 28 checks made out to “cash” or to himself — totaling $53,950.
Byrd said evidence shows that instead of keeping the money, Kondratick may have given at least some of it away through a “Good Samaritan” fund.
He was fired after the misuse of funds was discovered.
It appears that this is not the first time Kondratick has been accused of stealing from a church, the Herald-Tribune previously reported.
In 2007, the Orthodox Church of America in Syosset, N.Y., relieved Kondratick of his duties as priest following an investigation into financial misconduct. No criminal charges were filed in that case.