DA asked to review possible theft from church by former priest
- DA asked to review possible theft from church by former priest
Leaders at Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church cite financial discrepancies
By John Diedrich of the Journal Sentinel
August 12, 2013
The Milwaukee County district attorney's office has been asked to investigate possible theft from the Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church by a former priest.
Assistant District Attorney David Feiss confirmed Monday that he was reviewing documents sent to the office by Annunciation's Parish Council. Feiss declined to comment further.
After discovering financial "discrepancies," the council voted to request the district attorney investigate the matter, according to a news release from the church.
"The concerns that have been raised have nothing to do with current church operations or leadership, and regular church programs, services and normal operations are unaffected and will continue as usual," Emmanuel Mamalakis, a lawyer representing the church, said in a news release.
Mamalakis said Monday the vote by the 14-member Parish Council was unanimous.
"They are unified. There is no division on this," he said.
In a letter sent to parishioners Monday, Parish Council President Kosta Zervas wrote: "In order to protect our church community, we reluctantly decided to take this action.
"During this review, we worked hard to resolve and answer questions we had, but we were unable to do so. Regrettably, asking the District Attorney to review the matter was the most appropriate step to take."
In a letter from the church to the district attorney obtained by the Journal Sentinel, Mamalaskis wrote that the council believes it has found "ample evidence" that former Pastor Father James Dokos had committed felony theft.
The letter says Dokos, who is now a priest at Saints Peter & Paul Orthodox Church in Glenview, Ill., spent more than $100,000 from a trust created by Ervin and Margaret Franszak for personal expenses.
Reached at his office Monday, Dokos said that was the first he was hearing of such an allegation.
"I know nothing about it," Dokos said. "I will look into it real soon, believe me."
Bishop Demetrios of Mokissos, the church's chancellor of Chicago, asked a church attorney to review the matter. The attorney found funds were not used improperly, according to an Aug. 7 letter sent to the Parish Council.
The bishop wrote he was calling a meeting for this week, "in the spirit of reconciliation" to be attended by Dokos, all Annunciation Parish Council members and Annunciation's current priest, Father Angelo Artemas.
"To promote a more candid and open discussion... ," he wrote, "all who are present agree that any statements made during the meeting are inadmissible for any purpose in any legal proceeding."
Dokos said Monday he knew of the meeting. The bishop did not return a reporter's call for comment.
Annunciation's main building on W. Congress St. in Wauwatosa was designed by architect Frank Lloyd Wright and is on the National Register of Historic Places. The church organizes the annual Greek Fest, now held at State Fair Park.