Thessaloniki Ex-Mayor Gets Life for Embezzlement

Former Mayor of ThessalonikiVassilis Papageorgopoulos
Former Mayor of ThessalonikiVassilis Papageorgopoulos

Vassilis Papageorgopoulos, a former sprinter who studied medicine, earning him the nickname “The Flying Doctor,” before becoming Mayor of Thessaloniki from 1999-2010, was found guilty by a court there on Feb. 26 of stealing almost 18 million euros ($23.56 million) from the city’s coffers and given a life sentence in prison.

He had been accused of embezzlement during his two terms in office as a Member of the New Democracy Conservative party that is now ruled by Prime Minister Antonis Samaras, who has vowed to crack down on corruption. It is rare in Greece for a high-ranking politician to be prosecuted and he had denied any wrongdoing.

Papageorgopoulos and other four defendants also found guilty were charged in a scheme to skim money. A total of 18 officials stood trial for allegedly embezzling almost 52 million euros ($68 million) from the municipality’s treasury though the court said that there was proof of 17.962 million euros having gone missing. Papageorgopoulos was replaced by a Leftist, Yiannis Boutaris in local elections in November 2010. Boutaris accused Papageorgopoulos of providing inaccurate financial figures when he took over at City Hall.

The court handed lesser guilty verdicts to the municipality’s former general secretary, Michalis Lemousias, ex-cashier Panayiotis Saxonis and two more former directors of the municipality’s financial services. The other parties standing trial, including three former deputy mayors in charge of finances, were acquitted of all charges.

Papageorgopoulos won two medals at the European Indoor Championships as well as the bronze medal in the 100 meters at the 1971 European Championships in Athletics. He first got involved in politics in 1978 when he was elected City councilor of Thessaloniki. He practiced dentistry until 1981, when he was elected as a member of the Greek Parliament.


  1. Greek scandals one after the other…There is nothing more than scandals in Greece and the major scandal is that our justice system is still in hibernation…When we will see the light of day???

  2. Is this mayor in a “free to come and go in and out” jail like Akis Tzahadsopolus is supposedly in? Or is he in jail yet at all? What a FRACE and FRAUD Justice is here in Greece— Pathetic! 
    Why hasn’t Akis had a trial yet after a year waiting around ???

  3. Money under the table seems to be the major sports activity in Greece. Like I said, it has been happening for many decades. But in Greece, because they are Greek, they are considered good people. If it was a non-Greek, all hell will break loose! Problem with Greeks in Greece is that they are so busy drinking their coffee, socializing with the neighbors, going to their “PARTIES”, that they keep their heads in the sand not giving a damn. Greeks have a tendency of not doing anything unless you invade their territory. Wake up! There are many small Greek workers who are just as corrupted, not paying their taxes, and paying a little money under the table just to get things done their way. It’s in their blood!

  4. What a FARCE and FRAUD Justice is here in Skopje—Pathetic.
    What a FRACE and FRAUD Justice

  5. It’s a good beginning.
    Now, the only thing which is needed is to find where the stolen money is.

  6. Yes Nancy, corruption in their blood and they will never wake-up because they like the way they are living…If they wanted change, they would’ve done it long time ago not waiting for the IMF to force them to change…Greece is for the crooks, the corrupts and the criminals and not for people like me and you…Finally, Greece will never change…

  7. The worst thing is that it has so many scandals yet we are talking about a small county. The size of an average state in the US.  

  8. In their blood? Are you racist? Also, you live in an imaginary world, probably outside of Greece – to not say a non-Greek hating everyone since even if the majority is like that, it’s bigoted to generalize.

  9. For your information, in Greece, life means 25 years reduced to 15 for good behavior…

  10. Well, I lived there for 12 years and can not agree with you. The people I worked with worked hard, came on time and even 7 days a week.The money a person earnes is little and in general people work two jobs to survive.I do agree that anyone that has the position of power will abuse it to the last, this is why an oridnary greek has never trusted anyone working in a public office or as an goverment employee.