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CROWN POINT — A criminal court judge said Tuesday a man charged in nine robberies would need to post $45,000 in cash to be released from jail, though additional criminal cases expected to be filed in coming weeks would likely increase that amount. 

A passport for Dionysios T. Doukas also was seized by the Lake Criminal Court, based on police concerns the defendant would flee to Greece if he were released on bond.

Doukas, 35, of Schererville, has been jailed since Nov. 20 on allegations he led police on a high-speed chase from Lake County to Porter County, eventually dodging a speeding train to escape his pursuers in Valparaiso.

Doukas was later arrested at his home, where officers allegedly found evidence tying him to the robbery of a Subway restaurant in Lowell the night before.

Doukas has since been charged in a total of nine robberies or attempted robberies in Lake County, and two more robberies in Porter County. He allegedly targeted businesses near opening or closing times, and threatened employees with an item wrapped in a plastic bag before demanding cash.

Defense attorney Ralph Staples requested at Tuesday's court hearing that Judge Salvador Vasquez reduce Doukas' bond to a flat amount of $2,000 cash for him to be released from jail on all the pending charges. 

Staples surrendered Doukas' U.S. passport to the court, and called his current cash bond amount of $68,000 “extremely excessive.”

Before Tuesday's hearing, Doukas was jailed on nine bonds corresponding to each of the nine pending robbery cases. Those bonds, set by a magistrate judge, ranged from $5,000 to $10,000, which meant Doukas would need to post $68,000 in cash to be released from jail. 

Doukas took the stand on his own behalf at the bond hearing. He told Vasquez he was a U.S. citizen with family throughout Northwest Indiana. He said he was the father of two young children and worked part-time at two of his family's restaurants — Paragon Restaurant and Gino's Steakhouse.

He admitted on cross-examination he was convicted in 2012 in Lake County of dealing in a controlled substance.

He was sentenced to four years in Lake County Community Corrections followed by two years probation, court records state, but he was expelled from the community corrections program less than a year after his sentencing.

Doukas also admitted he was convicted in Illinois for possession of a controlled substance.

Doukas spelled his first name "Dionysios" during his testimony, though court records updated Tuesday spelled his first name "Dionysos." 

Detective Michelle Dvorscak, of the Lake County Sheriff's Department, testified regarding a recorded phone call between Doukas and his girlfriend at the jail, wherein Doukas allegedly discussed fleeing to Greece.

Dvorscak said in the phone call the girlfriend told Doukas his uncle offered to buy him a “one-way ticket to Greece and a few goats.” His grandfather also allegedly repeatedly said he would buy Doukas a plane ticket to Greece.

Doukas' sister, Olga Medina, testified on behalf of the defense that her grandfather was “old school,” and inevitably everything he says goes back to Greece.

She said her family would not really buy a plane ticket for Doukas. She told Vasquez their father's family did live in Greece, but Doukas had not recently visited the country.

Dvorscak, who investigated the Lowell robbery and executed search warrants at Doukas' home, said Doukas was a suspect in 21 robberies throughout Northwest Indiana, a total that included the pending cases.

Supervisory Prosecutor Michael Toth told Vasquez two new cases were filed by police and were awaiting approval by the Lake County Prosecutor's Office.

Vasquez acknowledged it was reasonable for police to fear Doukas would flee to Greece. He would not be the first defendant in Lake County to abscond to that country, where extradition is difficult, if not impossible.

The judge said Doukas' passport would be held by the Lake County Clerk's Office. He scheduled Doukas' cash bonds, which ranged from between $5,000 and $10,000, to $5,000 on each of the nine robbery cases, totaling $45,000, down from the $68,000.

The judge said Doukas would have to post bond on each individual case to be released from jail, and he would urge the magistrate judges to schedule Doukas' cash bond at $5,000 on any future robbery cases filed.

Doukas is scheduled to appear in court again Feb. 20.

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Courts and social justice reporter

Steve covers Lake County courts and social justice issues for The Times. The UW-Milwaukee graduate joined The Times in 2016 after reporting on criminal justice in New Mexico and Wisconsin.