PARAMUS, NJ — A former Armenian Missionary Association of America (AMAA) employee was arrested after authorities say he allegedly stole $800,000 of the organization’s donated money.

Tigran Melkonyan, 42, of Mahwah, used the stolen money to buy a $30,000 car and more than $75,000 worth of electronics, which he resold to hide where the funds came from, police Chief Kenneth Ehrenberg said in a statement. Melkonyan was arrested after the AMAA “reported their suspicions” to Paramus Police, according to a statement by the association.

Tigran Melkonyan
Tigran Melkonyan

From late February 2006 to June 2014, Melkonyan opened bank accounts under his name and under the Paramus-based association’s name. Melkonyan, whose former position included soliciting potential donors for the group, transferred the donations into his own accounts.

Melkonyan resigned from his position in April 2014.

Zaven Khanjian, chief executive officer and executive director of the association, said the scheme was discovered after an internal review of the organization’s records.

“We are committed to cooperate with law enforcement in the prosecution of this matter and will pursue all available avenues for the recovery of misappropriated funds,” Khanjian said in a statement.

Communiqué From AMAA Executive Director/CEO

Dear Friends of the AMAA,

The AMAA has a strong commitment to transparency, a strong sense of responsibility and a tradition of prudent management of all entrusted funds.

Recently an internal review and investigation of internal records revealed fraudulent activity and misappropriation of funds by a former employee.

Law enforcement authorities were quickly notified, who after a diligent and efficient investigation, arrested the former employee. We are committed to cooperate with law enforcement in the prosecution of this matter and will pursue all available avenues for the recovery of misappropriated funds.

In the meantime, we have enacted several internal control measures to avoid any repetition of similar incidents in the future. Working with our auditors, we will continue to examine our operations to ensure integrity in every aspect of our financial transactions.

It is management’s utmost responsibility to protect the long standing reputation of the Armenian Missionary Association of America and ensure that every dollar is used for the donors’ desired purposes. We shall spare no effort to ensure that the AMAA lives up to its reputation.

Our firm determination and pledge to our esteemed donors is that the investigation will vigorously continue until all pertinent facts are uncovered and that all donor wishes are prudently met and honored.

As always, please accept our heartfelt gratitude for your continued support and prayers.

Zaven Khanjian
Executive Director/CEO
Armenian Missionary Association of America

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