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Former Wauwatosa priest appears in court after several missed appearances

July 23, 2014

Under the threat of an arrest warrant, former Wauwatosa priest James Dokos appeared in court July 18 to face charges of embezzlement from Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church. He had missed his first two appearances.

In his initial appearance, the court found probable cause for a preliminary hearing, scheduled for 8:30 a.m. July 30. Dokos was released on a signature bond of $5,000, which he will have to pay if he does not appear for his preliminary hearing.

Dokos, 62, is now a Chicago resident. He could see up to 10 years in prison and $25,000 in fines if found guilty of inappropriately spending more than $110,000 from a church trust fund he was given control over between August 2008 and October 2012.

The criminal complaint states Dokos used more than $57,000 from the fund to pay his credit card bill and wrote several checks from the fund to himself and family members.

Taking money from the trust fund, Dokos allegedly spent $20,000 at upper-end restaurants, including regular visits to Fleming's Steakhouse in Brookfield, where he lived. He also spent $5,000 on jewelry and thousands more on trips, high-end shopping and bills.

According to the complaint, Dokos was made trustee of the account in 2008 after the deaths of both funders of the trust, Ervin and Margaret Franczak. Margaret had named him as a successor.

In 2008, Dokos made the donations Franczak had requested. Under the terms of the trust, he was to turn over the remainder of the funds for the construction and maintenance of a cultural center at the church. Dokos did give $1.1 million to the church but allegedly kept more than $100,000 in the fund that he used for his own purposes.

According to the complaint, Dokos changed the account address from the church to his home in Brookfield, and the church stopped receiving statements on it. The embezzlement was not discovered until 2013, the complaint states, when church officials who thought the account was empty realized Dokos had used it to pay an insurance bill.

When the church asked Dokos for a copy of the trust, canceled checks and tax returns, Dokos allegedly replied, via email, "I STOLE NO MONEY."

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