MILWAUKEE -- A local priest accused of stealing more than $100,000 from his former parish between 2008 and 2012 pleaded guilty in a Milwaukee County courtroom on Monday.
According to a criminal complaint, Father James Dokos, longtime priest at the Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church, stole more than $100,000 from a trust fund that was supposed to be used primarily for the building of the church’s cultural center.
Under the conditions of a deferred prosecution agreement accepted by the judge Monday, Dokos must perform 40 hours of community service over the next year. He’s also required to avoid putting himself in any positions overseeing someone else’s money and repay the funds taken from the Annunciation Church.
Milwaukee County Assistant D.A. David Robles said the money removed from the trust fund, which Dokos used for personal expenses like credit card bills and dinners out, has already been repaid.
Robles said the community at Annunciation has been briefed on the agreement.
“The feedback I got from the parishioners was, I believe, overall supportive of the agreement,” Robles said.
Robles said if all conditions of the DPA are met in the course of the next 12 months, Dokos will be found guilty of misdemeanor theft rather than the felony charge he previously faced. His sentencing would then be up to the judge based on compliance, although Robles said the state would recommend a fine.
“(Dokos) at this point has come in and accepted responsibility for what he did,” Robles said.
“We’ll continue to monitor everything,” he said
. “Of course, it’s important to us that he meets all the requirements of this deferred prosecution agreement.”
Dokos was transferred from the Annuciation Church
to a parish in the Chicago suburbs in 2012.
George Karcazes, who said he’s a member of that parish, believes Dokos should also be disciplined by the diocese.
“He ought not to be allowed to stand at the altar and preside over communion,” Karcazes said.
“Forgiveness is up to God. He’ll have to face that eventually,” he said.
Dokos remains on unpaid leave from the diocese.
In a statement released Monday afternoon, the Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church said the following:
Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church announced today that it has reached a financial settlement with its former priest, James Dokos, regarding allegalions of theft and embezzlement from the Ervin and Margaret Franczak Trust.
The terms of the settlement make Annunciation whole from a financial perspective.
Since the discovery of the misappropriation of funds from the Franczak Trust, first uncovered in early 2013, this has been a very challenging time for Annunciation's parish. In particular, the decision to have this matter investigated by the Milwaukee County District Attorney's Office was especially difficult.
However, this financial settlement, coupled with the plea agreement reached in the criminal case, according to Annunciation Parish Council President Clem Stoeckl, "Will allow Annunciation to move forward in a positive manner, continuing to showcase Annunciation's rich tradition as one of the finest examples of the Orthodox Church."
Annunciation wishes to express its sincere gratitude to the Milwaukee County District Attorney's Office, and in particular Assistant District Attorneys David Feiss and David Robles for their willingness to investigate and prosecute this difficult case, as well as David Robles for his assistance in resolving this matter.