One of our pet complaints here at Monomakhos is that we Orthodox are rather niggardly in our giving. Tithing is virtually unknown and held in derision by people from many different quarters. In an earlier essay last year on the financial meltdown in Greece, I made mention that one reason the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese could only come up with half a million dollars was because the finances of that jurisdiction are rather “opaque.” Although I had no hard evidence, it was mostly a gut feeling that all too many of us have. (Not that things are any more stellar in the other jurisdictions.”
I still stand by that criticism. The general concensus is that throughout the Archdiocese, from the national headquarters to the local church, creative accounting all-too-often takes place. Basically what we are talking about are things like slush funds.
It appears that this may be the case in this instance.
We at Monomakhos don’t presume to know everything that has transpired here. And we firmly believe in the presumption of innocence, but the fact that the District Attorney in Milwaukee County may file charges in response to a request filed by the Parish Council of Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church, causes us to feel an “Obi Wan Moment” (as in “I don’t have a good feeling about this Master”). At any rate, as far as giving is concerned, it certainly doesn’t bode well. The people who tipped yours truly off to this case have speculated that the monies which may have gone missing wound up at the Phanar.
Time will tell.
DA asked to review possible theft from church by former priest
Leaders at Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church cite financial discrepancies
Source: Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel Online | John Diedrich
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.