|Peter "The Russian" Stephanoff|
| Peter Stephanoff, called "The Russian," would lead a crew of armed robbers and safe crackers for powerful Montreal Mafia lieutenant Giuseppe "Pep" Cotroni.
In the 1940s, as a young man, Stephanoff was sentenced to ten years in prison for bank robbery.
Upon Stephanoff's release from prison in 1957, Pep Cotroni held a lavish welcome home party for him.The get-together was attended by most of the top organized crime figure from around the city.
Pep Cotroni also made Stephanoff a partner in a restaurant he owned, the Ontario Spaghetti House, and set him up in an expensive apartment on Ridgewood street.
Most importantly, Pep Cotroni made him one of his main lieutenants and placed him in charge of a group of armed robbers, thieves, and safe crackers. Stephanoff also began trying to take control of the lucrative Vancouver drug market for Cotroni.
On April 8, 1958, Walter Zymowec, the manager of the building Stephanoff lived in on Ridgewood street, noticed that a storage room belonging to a vacant apartment was locked. He decide to investigate and broke the lock. Inside, he found three firearms and quickly called police. Officers answered the call and found $75,000 worth of stolen bonds and two kilograms of heroin.
Police showed Zymowec photographs of some of Montreal's top bank robbers and he quickly identified Paul Mann (a name that Stephanoff sometimes used) as a tenant in the apartment building. Police searched Stephanoff's apartment but came up with nothing incriminating.
The Premier Trust Company of Saint Catharines, Ontario was robbed for $900,000 in cash and securities on February 2, 1959. Five days later, police observed Stephanoff and mobster Henri Samson entering a business owned by another Montreal Mafia associate. They arrested Stephanoff as he exited the store and then searched the building, where they found 35 stock certifcates worth $9,600 that had been stolen from the Premier Trust Company less than a week earlier.
Stephanoff was put on trial and found guilty of receiving stolen bonds. He was sentenced to eight years in prison. He was released on June 18, 1965, after serving a little more than six years.
Upon his release, Stephanoff became partners with Paul Duval and began trafficking heroin from Montreal to Toronto. Thanks to tips from informants, the RCMP learned of Stephanoff's new drug network and began to investigate the convicted bank robber's activities.
Stephanoff and Duval travelled to Toronto on November 21, 1965, and checked into a Holiday Inn hotel. The next day, one of their customers approached Stephanoff and explained that he had a friend who was interested in purchasing large amounts of heroin. Unbeknownst to both the customer and Stephanoff, this "friend" was really an undercover RCMP agent.
Stephanoff and Duval met with the undercover officer and agreed to sell him 100 capsules of heroin for $750. The buyer handed over the money and the drug was later delivered to him. Stephanoff and Duval were arrested when they returned to their hotel room and charged with drug trafficking. Another 249 heroin capsules were found in their room.
The two drug traffickers, as well as an underling, received prison sentences ranging from five to seven years. It is unclear when Stephanoff died but it was most likely sometime during the 1970s or 1980s.