Pastor Roman Skots, who escaped justice in the U.S., unlawfully took land from his compatriots in Ukraine, forged documents, and blackmailed and bribed public officials while other members of his family sold humanitarian aid from the West. The administration of American and Ukrainian Protestant churches encouraged and covered up the fugitive’s shameless deeds.
(Please turn on CC on YouTube video to watch it with subtitles!)
Neither the Slavic diaspora of Sacramento nor the US government seem to know about the crimes being committed in Ukraine by the Protestant pastors. Ukrainian president Poroshenko and some U.S. politicians (including California’s Governor Jerry Brown) openly support these crooks.
The Skots family own the “Tavita” second-hand retail store chain. They have been engaged in selling used goods from the West for more than a decade.
While the American half of the Skots family continues their fundraising activities in Northern California with the help of local Slavic churches and even American public institutions, its Ukrainian counterpart robs their own people and makes money from their problems.
In this article, we will talk about the sale of humanitarian aid by the family of pastor Roman Skots, who fled the U.S. to his native Ukraine a few years ago and who closely cooperates with the top leadership of the Bethany Slavic Missionary Church in Sacramento, where his 5 brothers still live.
We would like to remind you that Roman Skots, a citizen of Ukraine, fled from the United States to his native country after he and his transportation company were sued for money laundering in the Federal Court of California. As Slavic Sacramento learned from the court documents, USKO Shipping, owned by the Skots brothers from Sacramento and registered to Roman Skots, was suspected of laundering hundreds of thousands of dollars through the California branches of Wells Fargo bank. During the investigation, the bank accounts of the company were frozen and the funds were requisitioned by the State of California. Read more about this federal investigation in our article titled “Where Do Donations to Ukraine Go?”
So, Roman Skots and his wife Anna Skots (nee Yaslinskaya) fled from the U.S. in shame, founded a small community of Evangelical Christians in one of the suburbs of Kiev, the village of Kryukovshchina, and began to make money from the needs of Ukrainians and even took away other people’s property.
This February, I visited the Temple of the Savior Church (Kryukovshchina, Kashtanova 1b) and met with Pastor Roman himself. He showed me the impressively sized warehouse full of goods shipped from the U.S. by his brothers.
In a huge building, a room large enough for no more than 60-70 people is reserved for the church. The rest of the building, according to Roman, is used to store agricultural tools and spare parts: one of the owner’s businesses sells agricultural machinery. Indeed, in the spacious backyard, you can see new seeders, plows, mowers and an impressive fleet of imported cars.
All this wealth is enclosed by a tall fence and guarded by a service dog and a young custodian who lives in a two-story brick gatehouse.
The nearby cemetery appears to be another source of income for the enterprising priest from Sacramento. According to the registration documents of the Ministry of Justice of Ukraine, Roman Skots, among other things, provides funeral services to the local population.
Roman Skots also owns a 2500 sq ft six-room apartment in Kryukovshchina (Lvovskaya 13a, apt. 2). According to local residents, he lives in a luxurious mansion in the elite district near Kiev.
According to our correspondent, who has visited the pastor’s home, a number of luxury mansions and a playground were built on a well-groomed American style lawn. All this wealth is well-guarded and literally crammed with CCTV cameras.
There is evidence that house number 12 on Kashtanov Street also belongs to him. In a word, our fugitive has perfectly settled in Ukraine – he has homes, relatives, and businesses.
Roman Zinovyevich Skots has two vehicles registered to his name – a white 2001 Mercedes-Benz Sprinter 208 CDI and a white 2014 Kia Soul.
According to a source in local law enforcement, Pastor Roman also owns a registered firearm – a 9 mm pistol.
The bishop of Sacramento Adam Bondaruk, the pastor of the Bethany Slavic Missionary Church Stepan Skots (Roman’s brother) and the leadership of Great Commission and Ukraine Relief are frequent guests at the church. Bishop Vladimir Lashchuk and minister Felix Weizmann regularly support the forced expat by begging American believers for donations.
I went to the Savior’s Temple Church at the end of the evening service. One of the Skots brothers, who helped Roman at the service, took me to the Pastor’s office. During a one-hour conversation, the Evangelist pastor tried to convince me that he was not involved in the distribution of humanitarian aid in Ukraine or in selling second-hand clothes in local stores.
However, the businessman pastor is shamelessly lying: there is at least one store that sells used clothes and other second-hand goods registered to his name in the Ministry of Justice of Ukraine. The store with a warehouse is located in Roman’s home town – the Kamen-Kashirsky district of the Volhynia region. Local residents have confirmed this information and unanimously told us about a whole network of stores where “Americans” sell humanitarian aid to their compatriots.
Three other shops (two in Kamen-Kashirsk and one in Kiev’s Boyarka suburb) that sell food and second-hand clothes from the West belong to other members of the Skots family – Lyubov Andreevna Skots, Lyudmila Nikolayevna Skots, Oleksandr Ignatovich Skots, Ivan Pavlovich Skots, Hanna Petrovna Skots and others.
We visited all four outlets owned by members of the Skots family and found evidence of selling humanitarian aid (Please watch this video).
The first place that we visited during our raid was a store located on the territory of a canned food factory (Kamen-Kashirsky, Kovelskaya 114). Employees of this store confirmed that the establishment belongs to Roman Skots from Kiev and reported that the goods placed for sale come from Europe and the U.S. Sometimes they bring it by the truckload, the saleswoman said.
Along the walls of the store are numerous hangers with used clothing – all with tags removed. Among European clothes, you can see American goods such as “UCLA” and “Lakers” T-shirts – obviously brought in from California.
Instead of the original labels, the store employees place price tags in Ukrainian currency on the clothing items. From time to time, customers visit the store and check out the goods for sale. Vans with hired workers keep cruising around.
Interestingly, along with second-hand clothing from Europe and the U.S., the store sells exactly the same “rice from India” for which the Californian Skots brothers collect money in American churches – $25 for a 5kg bag.
The “high quality refined rice,” according to the shopkeepers, comes from America. We purchased one 5kg bag for 100 hryvnia (about $4) as a proof. The woman behind the counter informed us that there was “as much rice as you want” in the warehouse – “at least 100 bags.”
We saw the same bags of rice in two other stores that belong to the Ukrainian-American businessmen. When I mentioned that I was going to Mariupol to visit pastor Gennady Mokhnenko and would like to bring some presents to children in the orphanage, the saleswomen encouraged me to buy some rice from them because they had no competition in the town.
So what is happening? American citizens and churches good-naturally donate money to Ukraine Relief for the rice intended for orphans and war victims, and instead, the Skots brothers unscrupulously sell it in their stores in Ukraine?
Leaving the store, I photographed the nearby barn, where, apparently, the workers sorted the goods arrived from abroad.
After making the control purchase, we went to another store owned by the pastor’s family. There I was able to shoot a video of the clothing tags that had not been removed yet. Some of them clearly read: “HUMANITARIAN AID. NOT FOR SALE.” The same tags were found in at least one other store.
The Skots family trades in Western goods that are extremely popular today in their homeland. Their stores have boxes full of used shoes, school supplies, toys, fabrics and accessories for sewing, and household appliances.
Another second-hand store is located in the town of Boyarka, about 40 minutes from Kiev (Belogorodskaya 25).
Yet another store under the “Tavita” brand is located on the ground floor of a residential building next to a bus stop.
I carefully scrutinized the clothes for sale with removed tags and started to feel like an uninvited guest. The storekeepers were obviously not happy to see such a pesky customer. It appeared that they might have been afraid of something.
When I began to take pictures of the goods, the store managers became infuriated and tried to stop me. One of the employees threatened to call the police and even tried to drive me out of the store.
I patiently await for the law enforcement to arrive. I wonder what they could possibly accuse me of? I am a law-abiding citizen, and the Constitution of Ukraine, as far as I know, does not prohibit taking photos and videos in public places.
The police are still not here, so I request to see the store’s certificates. I find the “Buyer’s corner” bulletin board that has the name of the proprietor.
You guessed it – the owner of the store is Lyubov Andreyevna Skots.
About half an hour later the famous reformed Ukrainian police is still not here, so I call a cab and leave for Kiev.
According to the official records, the Skots family has been selling second-hand goods for almost two decades, since 2000. Members of the Skots family other than Roman and Lyubov used to be involved in the suspicious trade as well.
For example, Lyudmila Nikolayevna Skots was selling goods at Kamen-Kashirsk open markets. (At the present time, however, this type of activity is marked as “suspended” in her license).
Oleksandr Ignatovich Skots also sold food products in Kamen-Kashirsk (this activity he has currently marked as “stopped”).
The same can be said about Ivan Pavlovich Skots from the town of Guta-Kamensk.
All local residents we had a chance to speak to confirmed that humanitarian aid has been sold by the members of the Skots family.
“They have the highest prices for humanitarian aid in the region,” complained one of the Kamen-Kashirsk residents in a conversation with a Slavic Sacramento correspondent.
The tragedy of the situation is that it is not considered shameful among the Ukrainians themselves to sell humanitarian aid to their own brethren. It is also sad that Americans and Europeans give millions of dollars into the hands of dishonest businessmen such as the Skots brothers. But, as we see, instead of actually helping orphans and war victims, the donations from the West make a profit for the fugitive swindlers.
Ukrainian-American Pastor Raids and Intimidates Christians
In our conversation, Roman Skots repeatedly stressed that he is actively engaged in charities for the benefit of the local population and the victims of the military conflict. Some of this is indeed true, but his noble deeds are denigrated by his suspicious activities and the discontent of the local Christians.
In June of this year, the Boyarka-Inform newspaper published an article on laying the foundation of a future mission building at the site of a former children’s camp Rodina.
Prominent Protestant bishops Mikhail Sinyuk and Mikhail Panochko were present at the ceremony. Along with them was Bishop Adam Bondaruk and his son Pavel Bondaruk, the pastor of the Bethany Slavic Missionary Church in Sacramento. The priests consecrated the foundation and also ordained Roman Skots to the presbyter. The event was attended by representatives of the local administration.
“More than 15 years ago the construction of a charity center has begun with the help of foreign donors,” wrote Boyarka-Inform correspondent Tatyana Zubkova on June 28th. “A 4-hectare land plot was purchased, but there is only a third of it left by now. The former leadership of the Nadezhda Boyarka Relief Center turned out to be dishonest, and now the Center for Compassion and Rehabilitation has to start everything from scratch.”
We are talking about an old children’s camp located in one of the Boyarka districts that had a swimming pool, a well, and several buildings used as lodgings for the elderly homeless people. A decade ago, Christian activist Lyudmila Mishanna purchased the abandoned campsite from the state with the help of Swiss sponsors. She started her own organization named Nadezhda Boyarka Relief Center. The abandoned buildings were renovated and became a haven for the homeless and the disadvantaged. Mishanna was involved in local charity since 1995 – thanks to this activity she was known to “every policeman” in the district.
Then the people of the well-known in California and Ukraine church minister Roman Skots came to the tidbit.
As the local residents testify, the land was fraudulently taken by Roman Skots. It was Pastor Skots who led the seizure of the land plot located in Boyarka on Sosnovaya Street 2, according to Lyudmila Mishanna.
This is what happened. In 2009, Roman and his family escaped from the U.S., fleeing from the FBI’s persecution for laundering hundreds of thousands of dollars through USKO Shipping transportation company (currently registered to Vitaliy Skots). Once Roman arrived home, he organized a church community and laid his eyes on the land plot of the Boyarka Charity Center. But since he had no rights to the desired property, and Ludmila’s team did not trust the stranger, he decided to get the land with the help of cunning and perfidy.
The director of Nadezhda, 77-year-old Lyudmila Mishanna, said that Roman Skots’ team had removed her from her post and, forging the seal of the organization and the signatures of all 8 board members, applied for a re-registration of the mission to the Ministry of Justice. The forgery was soon discovered, and the Ministry of Justice reversed their decision with an apology.
However, the team of the Protestant conquistador did not stop. According to the elderly woman, earlier, in 2008, when Mishanna still had good relations with Skots, Roman gave her a loan of $20,000 to be repaid within two months. When Mishanna tried to pay off the debt, Skots began to hide from her, and then sued her for “failure to pay.”
As a result of the dirty machinations of the pastor’s friends, the Savior’s Temple Church treacherously seized 1 hectare of land and began to establish its own orders on it, burning the houses and uprooting the trees.
Pastor Roman Skots along with American pastors blesses raided property in Ukraine
Desperate to find a peaceful solution to the conflict, Lyudmila Mishanna turned to the leadership of the Union of Churches of Evangelical Christians and to the members of the Bethany Slavic Missionary Church in Sacramento.
“At the same time when Mikola Sinyuk and Leonid (Adam) Bondaruk ordained Roman Skots, a criminal case was opened about the raider seizure,” wrote Mishanna in her letter to the Ukrainian and American believers. “Mikhail Panochko and Leonid Bondaruk, who blessed the stolen goods – shame upon you.”
In his church office, Roman Skots showed me the plan for the Center reconstruction. The pastor was dressed in a suit with a fashionable Apple watch on his hand. Roman boasted that he recently helped two local families whose homes burned down. But Lyudmila Mishanna said that Roman’s own people are suspected of setting fire to those houses to clear the land for the church construction.
The deeds of Roman Skots were blessed by the bishop of the Union of Christians of the Evangelical Faith of the USA Adam Bondaruk and the bishop of the Union of Churches of Evangelical Christians of Ukraine Mikhail Panochko. Furthermore, Roman Skots was ordained by these priests to the pastoral ministry.
“Roman will be hiding from the Ukrainian justice just like he is hiding now from American justice,” continued Lyudmila Grigoryevna. “He is bribing the judges and the local law enforcement, trying to drag out this case.”
For document forgery, he is facing up to 5 years in prison with confiscation of property.
“Dear Ministers! Ask Roman why he does not return to the U.S.,” said the lawful director of the fund. “I admit that you may not have been aware of these atrocities, but if you were – shame to you from God and people for blessing the stolen goods!”
Until now, Mishanna has not filed a lawsuit because she “did not want to take the dirty linen out of the house,” but if the bishops do not take the appropriate action, she promises to contact the relevant authorities and the press. Thus, “everyone will know that Panochko and Bondaruk are complicit in raiding.”
The Ukrainian Ministry of Justice opened a criminal case on the raider seizure of the land by the Savior’s Temple Church members. Lyudmila Mishanna’s rights of ownership to the Boyarka Charity Center were restored.
But the employees of Roman Skots have fenced the plot to keep the rightful owner from her own land.
Suspicious Cargo to Armenia, Moldova and Russia
The USA, Mexico, Kenya, and the Ukraine are not the last countries in the geographic list of the Californian missionary swindlers. As the Slavic Sacramento found out in the Federal Court of New York, a company called Zim American Integrated Shipping Services, Inc. filed a lawsuit against USKO Shipping in 2009. This happened just before or immediately after the escape of the Scots couple from the United States.
In the lawsuit, the plaintiffs claimed that USKO Shipping owed them about $45,000 for transporting 24 cars, 2 boats, 1 agricultural combine, construction materials, motorcycles and a whole fleet of personal watercraft to Armenia, Georgia, Russia and Ukraine.
Among other cargo mentioned in this case, at least two containers were shipped to the Semaretianul Christian mission in Moldova under the leadership of a certain Pavel Chernioglo. The shipment included building materials and household goods donated by U.S. citizens and not intended for resale.
In June of the same year, the case was closed due to defendants’ failure to appear in court. What kind of cars did the entrepreneur family ship without paying for it? Why was humanitarian aid shipped together with commercial cargo? Were there any violations of American laws?
We sent these questions, along with the statement of the above facts, to the U.S. Attorney General’s Office, and we will seek clear answers to them.