Priest pleads not guilty in grand larceny case
Source: Utica Observer-Dispatch
By Philip A. Vanno
The Very Rev. Stephen Enea has until Sept. 5 to decide if he will accept a deal offered by the District Attorney's Office, or go to trial to answer charges that he failed to pay contractors close to $500,000 for renovations to his Cornhill church.
Flanked by a handful of supporters, Enea, head of the Cathedral of the Theotokos of Great Grace, appeared before Judge Michael Dwyer in Oneida County Court Monday morning alongside public defender Corey Zennamo, and pleaded not guilty to the charges.
The archbishop of the Italo-Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of the Americas and Canada, along with his chief operating officer, Phillip G. Barker Jr., were indicted without counsel on Aug. 13, but were required to re-appear Monday with attorneys.
Barker did not enter a plea since he still has no representation it was determined Monday that he doesn't qualify for public defense. Dwyer gave him until Thursday to find an attorney, and return to court.
The duo faces the following charges:
*One count of second-degree grand larceny for allegedly stealing more than $50,000 in goods and services from Custom Building Unlimited of Rome some time between December 2010 and December 2011.
*Four counts of third-degree grand larceny for allegedly stealing a total of more than $12,000 in goods and services from Crawford & Stearns of Syracuse, Two Brothers Contracting of Whitesboro, W. Haver Excavating, Inc. of Poland, and Yocum Full Service, Inc. of Marcy some time between December 2010 and December 2011.
*One count of first-degree scheme to defraud for allegedly wrongfully obtaining more than $1,000 in goods and services from Custom Building Unlimited by fraudulent means some time between December 2010 and December 2011.
*Four counts of issuing a bad check for allegedly writing checks on November 18, 2011, that they did not have the funds to cover to Custom Builders Unlimited for $123,469, Crawford & Stearns for $21, 385.76, Two Brothers Contracting for $15,800, and Yocum Full Service, Inc. for $5,400.
Enea has said it wasn't his intention not to pay the bill for the renovations at the church but after starting the restoration work about two years ago based on a promised financial donation from a confidential source, the benefactor's life-situation changed and he or she could no longer pay the contribution as planned.
Neither Zennamo nor Assistant District Attorney Bernard L. Hyman Jr. would discuss the details of the deal offered to Enea, and Zennamo said his client hasn't determined if he will take it or opt for trial.
"With this type of case there is a lot to look at, and I haven't had a chance go over it much," Zennamo said. "Once I look over all of the allegations, we will take it from there."
Follow @OD_Vanno on Twitter or call him at 792-5074.