A prosecutor warned a high-ranking Greek Orthodox bishop in Chicago against “potential efforts to intimidate witnesses” in a case involving a priest accused of stealing more than 100,000 USD (6.56 million Roubles. 625,000 Renminbi. 6.22 million INR. 125,000 CAD. 128,000 AUD. 88,000 Euros. 66,000 UK Pounds) from a Milwaukee church. The warning came after another priest in Milwaukee told authorities that Bishop Demetrios Kantzavelos of Mokissos, the Nr 2 man in the GOAA in the Midwest, threatened in e-mails to remove him from his post if the church didn’t withdraw a theft complaint against the priest’s predecessor. According to court documents, a Milwaukee prosecutor wrote to an attorney for the Chicago church leadership last April, “We received some extremely distressing news regarding potential efforts to intimidate witnesses. … I believe that Bishop Demetrios needs to retain independent representation as quickly as practical”.
The bishop and Fr Angelo Artemas of Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church in Milwaukee WI exchanged the e-mails as prosecutors investigated theft claims against a former Annunciation priest, Fr James Dokos. The e-mails indicated that the bishop sought a meeting with Annunciation leaders to talk about the case against Dokos, who’s since been charged with improperly spending money from a trust fund intended to benefit the church. Members of Annunciation took their concerns about the trust fund to Milwaukee authorities after officials with the Greek Orthodox Metropolis of Chicago determined in an internal investigation that Dokos did nothing wrong.
Last March, Artemas wrote to Demetrios to say that Annunciation’s parish council declined to meet with him. Artemas wrote in e-mails later entered into the court record, “Due to your letter last August indicating Fr Dokos did nothing wrong, they’re unanimous not to meet”. Demetrios responded, “If that’s the case, then in (sic) will ask His Eminence to release you from there ASAP and offer your services to the Archdiocese for placement. I’m sorry”. When Artemas responded that he wasn’t seeking to leave his position, the bishop wrote back that he’d check with his superior, Metropolitan Iakovos Garmatis. “However … no threats or harassment here, he is VERY open to your release from the Parish and Metropolis if this isn’t brought to closure before Holy Week”.
In a court filing, Milwaukee prosecutors said the e-mails led Artemas “to believe that he was going to be involuntarily removed from his parish unless he compelled Annunciation to withdraw the complaint”. A Metropolis statement denied any intimidation took place, “The Metropolis never intimidated, threatened, or harassed anyone. The assignment of Parish Priests (is) an internal matter of the Church”.
Demetrios hasn’t been accused of any criminal wrongdoing, and Artemas remains pastor at Annunciation. However, the e-mails provided another sign of the tensions within the Metropolis after Annunciation members took their concerns about Dokos to authorities. By the time the criminal investigation was underway, the Metropolis transferred Dokos to Ss Peter and Paul parish in Glenview IL. When the parish council president there asked the metropolis to place Dokos on leave until the investigation concluded, the president received a sharp rebuke from Iakovos, who instead removed him as parish president. Iakovos wrote that he was “astonished” by the Glenview parish council’s “inappropriate suspicion and deceitful manoeuvrings rather than the support of its own pastor in time of need”.
Later, the Metropolis placed Dokos, 62, of Chicago, on leave after a Milwaukee court charged him with felony theft last July. At a hearing this week, a judge declined to dismiss the charge, rejecting Dokos’ attorney’s argument that the case amounts to state interference in church affairs. Annunciation’s parish council first raised concerns in 2013 about Dokos’ handling of the 1.2 million USD (78.72 million Roubles. 7.5 million Renminbi. 74.64 million INR. 1.5 million CAD. 1.536 million AUD. 1.056 million Euros. 792,000 UK Pounds) trust fund left by parishioner Margaret Franczak. Dokos, who controlled the fund as Annunciation’s priest, paid the church 1.1 million USD (72.16 million Roubles. 6.875 million Renminbi. 68.42 million INR. 1.375 million CAD. 1.408 million AUD. 968,000 Euros. 726,000 UK Pounds) from the fund after Franczak died in 2008. However, prosecutors said he failed to tell church leaders about money left over. Court records stated, “In all, (Dokos) retained more than 100,000 USD in trust monies that, contrary to the terms of the trust, he never turned over to the church”. Prosecutors allege prosecutors allege that Dokos spent 5,000 USD (328,000 Roubles. 31,250 Renminbi. 311,000 INR. 6,250 CAD. 6,400 AUD. 4,400 Euros. 3,300 UK Pounds) on jewellery for his wife, gave monetary gifts to family members, and paid credit card bills with trust fund money.
Court records show that Metropolis officials said their “initial conclusion” from their own review was that Dokos spent the trust fund money properly. Demetrios told investigators in 2013 that Metropolis lawyers and accountants reviewed the trust. The bishop said he personally questioned Dokos about how he spent the money; it satisfied Demetrios when Dokos told him the Annunciation council approved the spending. Court documents stated, “Bishop Demetrios acknowledged that as part of his investigation he never spoke to any member of the Parish Council to confirm this”. According to documents obtained last year by the Tribune, Annunciation officials denied that they approved Dokos’ spending. Demetrios himself received at least 6,700 USD (440,000 Roubles. 42,000 Renminbi. 417,000 INR. 8,400 CAD. 8,600 AUD. 5,900 Euros. 4,400 UK Pounds) in checks written by Dokos from the fund. Last year, a Metropolis spokesman described those payments as gifts, which he said may be used for church or personal expenses and are “duly reported as income”.
Last May, Demetrios wrote a letter to Milwaukee prosecutor David Feiss, complaining that Annunciation leaders “have taken advantage of the ongoing investigation by your office to avoid their own responsibilities in the administration of the Parish”. The letter, contained in court records, stated, “They’ve wrongfully attacked the integrity of the Metropolis of Chicago or myself personally, knowing that any response is either construed as ‘tampering’ with an investigation or is actually prevented by our own protocols and regulations. In short, there is no doubt that the Parish has gone ‘rogue'”.
6 February 2015
All the goodthinkers gather to defend crank priests and bishops. I’d simply say, “Follow the money, and if it proves that Dokos stuck his hand in the cookie jar and distributed some of it to the bishop, well, both belong in the slam”. Brittain got slam time for kiddie porn… Storheim got the drop for sexual misconduct (Fathausen defended both)… if these Greek jabronies are guilty, they deserve to wear orange jumpsuits for the next year or two.
If the price of speaking the truth is for the goodthinkers and their ilk to call one “crazy”, well, we need more such “craziness” in the world. Priests don’t have a “Get Out of Jail Free” card… but do note that many act as though they do. Pass the jug… the world is being its crank self. There is “wheat n’ tares”, indeed… but do note that Our Lord didn’t forbid us to take criminal clergy to the law… never forget that. In the Orthodox Church, the clergy were always subject to the civil law… civil authority didn’t break down in the eastern provinces of the Roman Empire as it did in the peripheral barbarian Western lands. You have a right to take criminal and abusive clerical suckers to court… exercise it…