November 2, 2012

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The Greek Mafia in Philadelphia PART ONE

Mafia II
Mafia II (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Most mafia historians are well aware of the known families and individuals who control the Philly underworld, yet few have peeled back the multiple layers to uncover some of the persons who we’ve not heard of. These are the ones I plan on bringing to the forefront because I have found them to be the more interesting and undoubtedly most powerful.

I’ve chosen to begin with the Greek Mafia which receives very little attention these days, because I’ve found they are one of the most respected and feared of the bunch. I’ll then move on to the Asian, Russian, Irish, and Italian mafias that run the City of Brotherly Love.

Let us begin with the Greeks, for they were credited for finding and shaping civilization, and just like them, these crews have a bloodthirst for violence and power.

To do so, I’ll start by introducing a family that has not been documented to date as far as I know, The Karalis Family.

The way they’ve handled their business for decades in the city and suburbs surrounding Philly, and stretched their enterprise and soilders from New York and Boston, to Las Vegas and Los Angeles, should serve as a blueprint for all rising gangsters on how to stay out of the public eye. And more importantly, that of the various authorities whose job it is to go after them.

The hierchy starts with Andreas Karalis who with brother Apostoli were raised in Greece, on the island of Kefalonia. Along with 7 brothers they quickly gained noteriety for their closeness and loyalty as a family. It’s been said that a quarel with one brother became a war with all seven, so as they grew in age, they used that bond to their advantage in every conceivable way, most notably in buisness where each played a significant role.

In future blogs, I will document many of the stories I’ve uncovered about their upbringing and quest to become not only financially secure, but a powerful force that demands respect. For now, I’ll use this first blog post to introduce some of the key players who are currently at the center of it all.

After the death of Apostoli Karalis, which is a gruesome story in it’s own, Andreas took full control of the top position. The family is structured like the Italian mafia but only include men of Greek decent. The majority are relatives so trust is rarely an issue, although in recent years they’ve added the services of others due to their rapid growth.

Their main business is bookmaking, both in the US and offshore, but they’re also involved in loan sharking and protection amongst the rackets. One of the main reasons they’re underworld endeavors have remained under wraps is because of the many legitimate business they own. From diners and restaurants in Philly, New York, Baltimore, and even Connecticut, to a strip club in Vegas and pieces of others across the country.

Recently, the youngest made member of the Greek Mafia, Gianni Karalis (38), who is known mostly as “Ace” or “VR”, and even “John”,  is also involved in internet gambling sites. The initials V.R. stand for “Vegas Runner” which is exactly what he was sent to Las Vegas for, moving money for their numerous bookmaking operations.

At this writing, under the orders of Andreas, the top soldiers are Caesar, Alex, and Gianni. Each is in charge of different parts of the family businesses and report directly to the boss (also refered to as Theo or Patera, meaning uncle or father in Greek). Caesar helps control the legit businesses, Alex the loan sharing and protection rackets, and Gianni the bookmaking and gambling operations.

The three I’ve touched on above are all first cousins, meaning their fathers are one of the 7 brothers. It’s a known fact that Gianni is the boss’ favorite since he has no sons of his own, and has helped to raise him after the death of his father. From my work, I’ve also concluded he is the favorite mostly because of his “old-school” priciples on everything from business and family, to power and violence. Some believe he is being groomed for the top spot and unlike most Italian families where becoming boss is a struggle, it has never appeared to be a problem with the Greeks. The only difference between the boss and the top soldiers is his ability to make the final decision on a matter, otherwise they are all equal and have little reason to go to war over the seat.

Besides the Karalis Family, there are about a half dozen more in the city of Philadelphia which all work together amongst each other. Strangely, there has not been any documentation of wars between the different families, which is also one of the major reasons they’ve been able to remain under the radar for decades.

Then there are the Greek Families in New York, Boston, Chicago, Las Vegas, and Los Angeles, along with various others scattered across the country. But for this blog, I will focus mainly on the ones here in Philly and introduce the players and their stories.

The author chose to create the blog phillymob215 in order to spread awareness about the Philadelphia mob scene. According to him/her this is a topic that he/she has researched for a number of years while attempting to get a book published. Although the author has yet to secure a publisher he/she felt it would be fit, to share some of his/hers stories via these blog posts. We here at HellasFrappe agree and have decided to re-publish PART ONE of his/hers blog entry. We advise our blogger to keep them coming! These articles are pretty interesting. Visit - blog phillymob215
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