What do you get when you cross Jesse James, Robin Hood, and Jack Bauer in the body of a giant, bearded, bald Greek man?
Meet Vassilis Paleokostas:
This crazy, utterly fearless dude is public enemy number one in Greece, and probably one of the most badass motherfuckers to come from the country since the days of our friend Leonidas.
Vassilis' story starts back in the early 90s, when he went on an insane crime spree of delicious armed robbery, blackmail, extortion, and kidnapping. Basically, his modus operandi was to kidnap a super-rich bastard, hold him for a ridiculous ransom, and then sell him back to his stupid family in exchange for giant piles of cold, hard cash. Then, he'd take that bling, keep a small percentage of it for himself, and distribute the rest of his newly-acquired wealth to impoverished farmers of the tiny rural province in which he grew up. The dude quickly made a name for himself as the Robin Hood of Greece, and was beloved by fans of badassery, the people of the lower classes, and pretty much anybody else he wasn't in the process of robbing or extorting for money. Shit, even the fucking people he kidnapped came out later and said that he was very polite and respectful to them while they were in captivity, and that it was pretty much the most pleasant kidnapping they'd ever experienced. That should give you some indication of what this dude was all about – steal from the rich, give to the poor, make a profit in the process, and be completely awesome all of the goddamned time. He also made a vow never to harm a member of the public in his criminal escapades. He's been true to his word.
In true badass fashion, Vassilis Paleokostas also has a trusty sidekick – a lunatic Albanian named Alket Rizai. Rizai is like the Friar Tuck in this story, only if instead of being a benevolent, staff-swinging priest, the clergyman was a crazy gunman with a hair-trigger and a penchant for firing automatic weapons at heavily-armed tactical police officers. Rizai is currently up on charges for murder, though I haven't really been able to track down any details about any of that (that's the problem with trying to research current events, I suppose). My assumption is that he was being attacked by some evil corrupt officers sent by the Sherriff of Nottingham and responded by burning a full clip of Uzi ammunition into them, jumping through a plate glass window, rescuing a damsel in distress, and swinging off on a chandelier with a hot babe clinging to his rippling biceps. According to a Greek friend of mine, this guy once blew up a known Mafia hangout by shooting it with a fucking rocket launcher.
Of course, the downside to being a career criminal – even a happy-go-lucky one who commits non-violent crimes in the name of the oppressed populace – is that eventually the long arm of the law is going to bitch-slap you in the fucking face really really hard. In 1995, Vassilis Paleokostas was caught by the fuzz, convicted of kidnapping, robbery, and weapons charges, and hauled off to a federal pound-me-in-the-ass penitentiary known as Korydallos Prison.
Now over the years, Korydallos Prison has gained a reputation as being one of the harshest and most brutal prisons in Greece. This place is like a mix between Andersonville, Oz, and that stupid plastic box they keep Magneto inside in the X-Men movies. The warden is a hardass son-of-a-bitch, the guards don't give a shit, and people that go inside the facility never come out.
Except Vassilis Paleokostas.
In June 2006, Paleokostas' older brother (another pathological criminal who is now serving jail time on 16 counts of armed robbery) commandeered a helicopter, and landed it right in the middle of the fucking exercise yard of the prison in broad daylight. The armed guards at Korydallos, not expecting to be subjected to such an unbelievable display of gigantic steel-plated testicles, assumed that this chopper belonged to the warden or the Chief of Prisons or something, and instead of investigating it they all decided to make sure their shoes were appropriately spit-shined so as not to incur a citation from their wrathful bosses. Vassilis (who had orchestrated the entire operation from the beginning) and his Albanian buddy simply walked up to the helicopter, hopped inside, and lifted off. By the time the guards got their heads out of their asses and started firing their guns at the bird, it was already too late. Paleokostas had escaped.
So the Greek police put out an all-points bulletin, and a nation-wide manhunt began for the Greek Robin Hood. Officers, dogs, and federal agents scoured the countryside for this fugitive day and night, relentlessly following leads and doing everything in their power to bring this wanted criminal to justice.
Paleokostas evaded them for two and a half years. He lived in the mountains outside Athens, evaded all attempts to recapture him, and even orchestrated another high-profile kidnapping in the process – snatching a powerful jackass CEO industrialist, ransoming him for a huge wad of cash, and once again distributing the loot to local farmers and families. There are also rumors that he planned and executed another kidnapping while he was still incarcerated, which is bonus points no matter how you look at it.
In August 2008, Paleokostas was tracked down and re-captured by the Greek police. He was placed in a different maximum security facility, where he was held for another six months, awaiting trial for his brazen escape in 2006. On 21 February 2009, Vassilis Paleokostas was transferred back to his old home – Korydallos Prison. His trial was to begin on the 23rd, and he was to stay in his former holding area while he stood trial for this crime.
But he never made it to trial. The very next day, 22 February, ANOTHER FUCKING HELICOPTER showed up in the skies above Korydallos Prison. It flew over a large tower of the prison, lowered a long rope ladder, and Vassilis Paleokostas and Alket Rizai climbed up into the chopper. As the helicopter flew off into the sunset, the prisoners of Korydallos cheered.
Greek police opened fire on the chopper as it flew off, but a woman returned fire with an AK-47 assault rifle. Now having hot Greek babes with automatic weapons come save your ass from prison isn't the sort of thing that happens to normal people every day, but that's just how things work out for you when you're a badass like Vassilis Paleokostas.
The police eventually tracked down the helicopter, and found that it had ditched on the side of the road outside Athens with a bullet hole in the gas tank. According to the pilot, Paleokostas and his associates left the chopper and drove off on totally sweet motorcycles to an undisclosed location. They also popped some totally bitchin' wheelies while doing so.
Vassilis not only earned his freedom for the second time, and once again showed the world that his ballsack is roughly the size of a small continent, but he also got some sweet delicious revenge on the motherfuckers in charge of the Greek prison system at the same time. For allowing the same guy to escape the same prison in the same manner twice in a row, the Greek government fired the country's Chief of Prisons, the Inspector-General of Prisons, the warden of Korydallos, and three guards at the facility. They all learned what it means to step to somebody as awesome as the Greek Robin Hood.
Vassilis Paleokostas is fully rad because he kicked ass, won the respect of the people, said "fuck you" to the police, and managed to single-handedly place the country's three top-ranking prison officials in the back of the unemployment line.
He is still at large.
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