James Gottreich, Parish Council President at Sts. Peter and Paul Church in Glenview, Illinois, wrote to Metropolitan Iakovos, the patriarch of the Greek Orthodox Metropolis of Chicago, asking to suspend the Glenview church’s pastor, the Rev. James Dokos, until the conclusion of a criminal investigation into his handling of a $1.3 million trust fund at a Milwaukee Greek church.
This request irritated the Greek Orthodox Church of Chicago and then led to Gottreich’s removal from the parish council. In response to Gottreich’s request, Metropolitan Iakovos wrote in a letter on Sept. 20 that he would not do so and that he was “astonished” by the Glenview parish council’s “inappropriate suspicion and deceitful maneuverings rather than the support of its own pastor in time of need.”
A formal investigation has been launched by the district attorney’s office in Milwaukee, concerning how money was distributed from the trust fund set up to benefit Annunciation Church in Milwaukee. Dokos oversaw the trust fund as pastor at Annunciation before being transferred to Sts. Peter and Paul in 2012.
The Annunciation Church council had asked prosecutors to look into the matter after an internal investigation into the fund suggested “some discrepancies,” according to a public statement issued by the church in August.
“We’re trying to see if those expenditures were made for personal purposes or for church purposes,” Milwaukee County Assistant District Attorney, David Feiss, said. “Once we have that information, we’ll make a decision whether to go forward,” he added, confirming that the office is investigating how the trust fund money was spent.
Dokos has not been charged with a crime, and prosecutors in Milwaukee said no decision on possible charges has been made in the case, as reported in Chicago Tribune.
The lawyers of Chicago’s Metropolis conducted their own review of the administration and use of the trust fund. “The Metropolis has reached the conclusion that the funds from the Franczak Trust were used in accordance with the provisions of the Trust, for the benefit of Annunciation Church, or in accordance with the wishes of Margaret Franczak,” Bishop Demetrios wrote in a letter about the trust fund in question, which was left by Annunciation parishioners Ervin and Margaret Franczak to benefit the church’s cultural center.
Concerning the church’s decision to remove Gottreich from the parish council, anger was caused among some members of the North Shore parish. Dozens of parishioners gathered at the church on Sept. 26 in order to discuss the church’s response to the Metropolis’ action.
“The Metropolis acts as if they can do it,” Gottreich said, explaining that it is not clear whether the metropolis has the authority to oust a president of a church’s parish council. “It’s a tug and pull. Everybody thinks they’re right,” he concluded.