Peter "The Russian" Stephanoff
Montreal Mafia
    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.
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