Greek Orthodox Priest Relieved of Duties Pending Disciplinary Decision
By Robert McCoppin
March 5, 2016
|The Rev. James Dokos attends a court hearing in his criminal case July 18, 2014, in Milwaukee. (Abel Uribe, Chicago Tribune)|
A priest who admitted to stealing more than $100,000 from a Greek Orthodox church has been relieved of his duties pending a final disciplinary decision, officials said.
The Rev. James Dokos, former pastor of Sts. Peter and Paul Church in Glenview, pleaded guilty to felony theft Feb. 22.
The Greek Orthodox Metropolis of Chicago, which oversees dozens of member churches in the Midwest, announced late Friday that the Spiritual Court of First Instance, a body that considers disciplinary actions against clergy members, has submitted a report on Dokos to the Eparchial Synod of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America, which will make a final determination.
Dokos admitted in court to stealing the money from a trust fund he controlled at his former parish, Annunciation Church in Milwaukee.
Under the terms of a plea agreement, Dokos repaid the money, and if he stays out of trouble for a year and performs 40 hours of community service, the felony theft charge will be reduced to a misdemeanor.
The Metropolis had placed Dokos on leave immediately after the filing of charges in 2014, two years after he left Annunciation for the Glenview parish.
The handling of the case prompted criticism of the Metropolis, whose leaders at first determined that Dokos did not misspend any of the trust fund money and punished parishioners and other clergy members who raised concerns about him.
According to court records and a Tribune investigation, Dokos spent the money on items including fancy restaurant meals, personal credit card bills, jewelry and gifts to other church officials. Bishop Demetrios of Mokissos, the chancellor of the Metropolis, received more than $6,700 in checks from the fund, records show.
The bishop, as well as Dokos' own attorneys, had argued that the case should be handled within the church and was not a matter for the criminal courts.
The Metropolis' statement — the first to address Dokos' future in the church since he accepted the plea deal — did not specify the content of the report on Dokos that has been submitted to the archdiocese.
The statement said, in part: "As Orthodox Christians approach Great Lent, the season of forgiveness, it is the hope of the Metropolis of Chicago that all those involved may receive healing from our compassionate, merciful and forgiving Lord Jesus Christ."