The Chicago Tribune
August 17, 2013
Glenview church concerned over pastor's financial dealings at old post
Milwaukee parish asks prosecutor to look over priest's handling of trust fund
By Alexandra Chachkevitch
Officials at a Milwaukee church once headed by the pastor who now leads a Glenview congregation have asked authorities to investigate the way the priest oversaw a trust fund.
Questions surrounding the Rev. James Dokos' time at Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church in Milwaukee prompted the parish council at Sts. Peter and Paul Greek Orthodox Church in Glenview to hold an emergency meeting Thursday night.
Parish Council President James Gottreich said members took "some steps to protect ourselves," but would not elaborate except to say the council did not move to oust Dokos.
Dokos arrived at the Glenview congregation about a year ago, replacing the Rev. Angelo Artemas, who headed Sts. Peter and Paul for more than 10 years. Artemas is now the pastor at Annunciation in Milwaukee, which Dokos led for about 20 years.
Gottreich, who heads an 18-member parish council, said in an interview before Thursday's meeting that church leaders in Glenview are concerned about the questions raised in Milwaukee, but have not drawn any conclusions.
"We're not going to rush to judgment," Gottreich said. "But we're not sitting here quietly."
Sts. Peter and Paul, which was established in the 1960s by a few area residents, has about 1,300 members. The questions surrounding Dokos come as some are still getting used to the new pastor's style.
In contrast to most Greek Orthodox churches in the area, Sts. Peter and Paul has primarily conducted services in English instead of Greek, Gottreich said. But with the arrival of Dokos, more Greek started being introduced into the services and some members have been unhappy about that, Gottreich said.
Gottreich added that the parish council plans to release a letter to its members in the next few days, informing them about the questions surrounding Dokos similar to a letter leaders of the Milwaukee church sent their members about a week ago.
In the Aug. 10 letter to parishioners, Annunciation's parish council president, Kosta Zervas, explained that the council unanimously voted to ask the Milwaukee County district attorney's office to examine their monthslong review of documents and records that "indicated some discrepancies" in the church's operations prior to 2013.
"The Parish council took this step after much consideration, and we did so knowing that it was a very serious step," Zervas wrote. He added that the raised concerns are not related to current leadership and operations of the church.
The Milwaukee church approached authorities after the bishop of the Greek Orthodox Metropolis of Chicago, Demetrios of Mokissos, told members that there was no wrongdoing and to drop the issue, according to Emmanuel Mamalakis, an attorney representing Annunciation.
"I understand that it may be embarrassing to the bishop," Mamalakis said. "But that doesn't give him a green light to shut down the investigation."
The bishop, who is the chancellor of the Metropolis of Chicago, did not return calls seeking comment. Dokos declined comment when approached by a reporter after services at the Glenview church last week.
The Metropolis of Chicago, one of eight Metropolises in the U.S., oversees about 35 Greek Orthodox churches in Illinois and about 25 others in Indiana, Iowa, Minnesota, Missouri, and Wisconsin.
Milwaukee County Assistant District Attorney David Feiss said he has finished reviewing documents sent to him by officials at Annunciation, but that he needs additional information from the church.
"We're not investigating anyone at this time," Feiss said. Anyone can request an investigation, he noted.
"After we have a better understanding what it is that we have, we'll make a decision as to what to do," Feiss said, adding that an official decision would probably not be made until September.
The documents that Annunciation officials sent Milwaukee prosecutors, which have been obtained by the Tribune, are related to a $1.3 million trust that a couple that belonged to Annunciation left to the church and which was overseen by Dokos. Mamalakis said that the documents may raise questions about the way Dokos used the money in that fund, which benefits Annunciation's cultural center.
Mamalakis said the church began investigating the trust's documents accidentally after it received a letter addressed to Dokos from an insurance company in February.
The letter contained an image of a check with the church's name on it that Dokos used to pay the company, Mamalakis said.
Mamalakis said Annunciation officials provided the bishop in June with the documents, but were told to provide a more detailed report on what damage had been done to the church.
After that report was submitted, the bishop and his attorney sent a letter to the church last week, saying that nothing was wrong with the way Dokos used the money, Mamalakis said.
Church officials disagreed and went to the Milwaukee County district attorney's office, Mamalakis said.