Chairman of Board of Pasadena Armenian Genocide Memorial Announces Resignation


 

PASADENA, Calif. (Pasadena Independent) — William M. Paparian, former mayor of Pasadena, has announced his resignation as chairman of the board of directors of the Pasadena Armenian Genocide Memorial amid allegations that the board treasurer provided fraudulent background information about himself, that the treasurer failed to follow California law regarding legal filings and that other board members did nothing to address it.

“California law requires that the board of directors carry out their responsibilities in good faith and with such care, including reasonable inquiry, as would be used by an ordinarily prudent person,” said Paparian. “It is my belief that the board has failed in that fiduciary obligation owed to the community.”

The memorial, approved by the Pasadena City Council in September 2013, has been scheduled to be completed and dedicated at the north side of Memorial Park in April 2015 to mark the 100th anniversary of the killing of 1.5 million Armenians over a three-year period beginning in 1915.

On August 6, the webmaster and social media coordinator for the memorial reported to the board that the bio of the treasurer had been removed from the website (www.pasagmc.org) due to the discovery that his claims of being a certified treasury professional and a former paid employee of the cities of West Hollywood, Sierra Madre and Pasadena were false.

Three days later, Paparian informed the board that the report from the webmaster was corroborated by a background investigation by another municipality, which found that the treasurer had made material misrepresentations about his professional and educational background in his application for appointment to an advisory committee and that he had been removed as treasurer of an Armenian community organization in Pasadena for the same reasons.

The Pasadena Armenian Genocide Memorial Board of Directors severed ties with the webmaster and took no action on the allegations against the treasurer.

On Aug. 27, Paparian was informed by the board’s independent certified public accountant that the treasurer had never registered the Pasadena Armenian Genocide Memorial with the California attorney general’s Registry of Charitable Trusts as required by state law, although the treasurer informed the board on May 19, 2013, that he had filed the registration.

Paparian also learned that no financial reports had been filed by the treasurer for the past two years with the California attorney general as required by state law. Paparian said he was shocked to learn that the board had been unintentionally receiving donations for the memorial illegally as a result.

“Members of the board include a retired police officer, an active duty police officer and a candidate for elected public office,” Paparian said. “It is shameful that the board’s reaction to the treasurer’s fraudulent background information and the unlawful receipt of donations has been denial and cover-up. They have failed to take decisive action, which I believe makes them complicit with the treasurer’s actions.”

The Pasadena Armenian Genocide Memorial is a 501(c)(3) tax exempt organization. The Internal Revenue Code prohibits direct or indirect participation in any political campaign on behalf of any candidate for elected public office. Paparian said one of the board members is a candidate for the California Senate and that the board treasurer, who is the candidate’s campaign fundraiser, organized a fundraising event for the candidate in Glendale on June 26 during which attendees were urged to donate to the candidate because of his membership on the board of the memorial.

“This put the Pasadena Armenian Genocide Memorial’s nonprofit status at risk and is shameful and disrespectful to the memory of the victims of the Armenian Genocide this project is intended to remember,” Paparian said.

“I am the first-born son of a survivor of the Armenian Genocide and have dedicated myself to the pursuit of justice for the Armenian nation all of my adult life, and this was a major focus of my 12 years as an elected public official,” Paparian said. “For the past two and a half years I have worked tirelessly on the Pasadena Armenian Genocide Memorial project.”

“My fiduciary obligation as chairman of the board of directors is more than merely a legal requirement; it is part of an unspoken promise to honor and cherish the memory of those who perished in the Armenian Genocide and the triumph of those who survived,” he added. “I cannot continue to be associated with this board of directors since they continue to ignore the facts.”