Did Tekeyan Cultural Association Defraud the Armenian American Community? What has become of the tens of millions of dollars generated from the sale of TCA Arshag Dikranian School Building?

Posted on February. 14. 2019

BY APPO JABARIAN

EXECUTIVE PUBLISHER/MANAGING EDITOR

USA ARMENIAN LIFE MAGAZINE

Many members of Los Angeles Armenian community are appealing to the leaders of the Ramgavar Party and the Tekeyan Cultural Association, to take a break from showering each other with lavish praise and from presenting each other with awards and certificates of commendation and instead, focus on and tend to the needs of the community.

Blinded by their self-interests, they have liquidated the students of TCA Arshag Armenian School, ignoring the sacred goal of preserving the founding donors’ objectives of providing this and coming generations with Armenian education; and torpedoing a fortress of preservation of Armenian heritage and identity.

In order to atone from their sins, they should kindly return the proceeds from the sale of TCA Arshag Armenian School building ($10 million and more, including any sales commission) to the community by allocating the entire amount to Armenian American Museum & Cultural Center of California.

The spirit of this article does not only refer to Tekeyan Cultural Association that operates under the supervision of the Ramgavar — Armenian Democratic Liberal Party, but also to all Armenian parties and community organizations and, in particular to the Armenian General Benevolent Union, whose leaders Berge Setrakian and his associates have unfairly closed the Melkonian Educational Institute in Cyprus and wanted to sell the related properties. Fortunately, thanks to resistance by the Melkonian alumni and the timely efforts of Cyprus Armenian community along with intervention by the Government of Cyprus, their ill-guided dream failed to materialize. (More to follow).

It has been over three years since Tekeyan Cultural Association Inc. (“TCA”) decided to close TCA Arshag Dickranian Armenian School (“Arshag Dickranian”). To date, little to none of the $10,000,000 in profits TCA made from the sale of the school and its property has been converted to making any sort of impact in the Los Angeles Armenian-American community.

It was always assumed by the sizable Los-Angeles-based Armenian Diaspora that TCA and its board of directors closed the school and sold the property under questionable pretenses. Time and healing from the fallout of the school’s closure have only clarified the injustice TCA and its board of directors perpetrated against not only the school’s alumni, parents, teachers, and benefactors, but also, in the poetic grand scheme of things, the ancestors of thousands of Armenian immigrants who crossed the Atlantic seeking to plant the seeds of their history, literature, and language in this nation for a better life for themselves and their children.

In 2016, charitable donors filed a lawsuit against Tekeyan Cultural Association, Inc. (“TCA”) and its Board of Directors collectively claiming over $1,000,000 in damages due to the closing of Arshag Dickranian. The lawsuit, which was filed in the Superior Court of California in Los Angeles by Plaintiffs’ attorney Stephan Airapetian of Stephan Filip (formerly Airapetian Law Firm), has shed light not only on the injustice committed by TCA

During the years after the closure of the school, TCA and its board of directors had multiple opportunities to save the school and secure its enduring presence as a preeminent educational institution.  TCA, nonetheless, made every effort to close the school. Instead of selling the school and the property to Stratford School, TCA could have sold the school to an Armenian group that would continue to operate the school as Arshag Dickranian. Even though TCA had an offer over $13,000,000 and the Armenian group was willing to match any other offer, TCA decided to close the school and sell it for $14,750,000 for an extra profit. Philanthropist and the school founder Arhag Dickranian entrusted TCA to operate the School in 1981 and since that time TCA has donated only around $100,000 of its own money to the school. The school was maintained by the sacrifices and millions of dollars in donations of the Armenian American community, specifically that from Los Angeles, California.

“We as a community fought to keep the doors of Arshag Dickranian open, but these criminals robbed us of one of our community’s most sacred treasures,” said a representative of Los Angeles Armenian community.

He underlined: “We, as a community, entrusted TCA and its board it directors to uphold our community standards and help maintain our culture, but greed led these criminals associated with TCA to steal from our community. They used our community’s resources to operate the school then when the time came they closed the school and sold it to the highest bidder even though they could have sold it to a party who would continue to operate the school. Even worse, they have yet to return any of the over $10,000,000 in profits to our community. Anyone associated with TCA and its board of directors should be ashamed considering the unjust acts committed by them against the very community they were entrusted to serve and they falsely claim to serve.”

“This case involves one of the most egregious acts committed by a charitable organization. TCA exploited Arshag Dickranian’s generous donors and the Armenian community’s avid participation in making the school a pillar in the Los Angeles Armenian community,” commented Plaintiffs’ attorney Stephan Airapetian. “We are counting on our judicial system to bring justice for our community.”

The representative concluded that “as a community, we should shun TCA and attempt to prevent any future organization from stealing from the Armenian Diaspora. Just so everyone knows and does not forget their actions, the four main masterminds behind this mishandling are Artin Arzoumanian, Edmond Azadian, George Mandossian and Panig Keshishian – a real estate agent along with other members of TCA Board of Directors Nubar Berberian; Maro Bedrosian; Vatche Semerdjian; Roupen Terzian; Hagop Vartivarian; Papken Megerian; Arto Manoukian; Arshavir Gundjian;; and Kevork Kueshkerian.”

Only about twenty years ago, one could have hardly foreseen what our community is witnessing in terms of organizational leaders financially cannibalizing own organizations’ supporters and ultimately the wider community.

It is heartwarming that the silent majority within the Armenian American community is silent no more. The silent majority has transformed itself into a vibrant majority that doesn’t hesitate to speak out and condemn fraudsters of the community. The majority is no longer misguided by the Ottoman false notion of “pushing critical issues under the rug.”

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