Godfather of Night: A Greek Mafia Father, a Drug Runner Son, and an Unexpected Shot at Redemption

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Ballantine Books, 2009 - Biography & Autobiography - 256 pages
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What if you belonged nowhere and to no one? What if you learned as a teenager that the father who had mistreated you for years wasn’t your father at all–and that you were actually born to the mistress of a Greek gangster? And what if the only way to connect with your real father was to become his fiercest rival?

Kevin Cunningham was born in Tarpon Springs, Florida, just another kid from the wrong side of the tracks. But from his first days Kevin gravitated towards power, and in Tarpon Springs that meant local crime boss Lukie Pappas. As a boy, Kevin hung out at the Pappas Restaurant, and he saw how the townspeople approached Lukie. How they respected him. How they came to him for help. How they called him nounos–Greek for “godfather.” From the shadows, Kevin admired it all.

When he turned seventeen, Kevin’s world flipped upside down. His dying father confessed that Kevin was the son of another man–and not just any man. He was the son of Lukie Pappas. Suddenly, his destiny was clear. His lineage became his fate. His rightful place was beside the Greek godfather who ruled his hometown.

But Lukie coldly rejected him, as both a son and a colleague. Fueled by rage and pride, Kevin claimed the Pappas name as his own and embarked on his own criminal enterprise. From two-bit swindling he rose quickly to high-stakes drug trafficking. Money laundering, gun running, and racketeering polished his underworld résumé, even as they placed him squarely in the crosshairs of every federal agency with three initials and a most-wanted list. And when he got caught, Kevin’s time behind bars only honed his criminal instinct, hardened his resolve, and cemented his reputation as a larger-than-life outlaw who sometimes went down but could never be taken out.

Still in his early twenties but as powerful as any crime boss, Kevin surrounded himself with an elite group, a posse that called itself The Band of Five. They wanted for nothing, as they were flush with fast cars, boats, planes and women, but their antics invited violent attempts to bring Kevin to his senses, or at least to his knees.

More than a gripping tale, GODFATHER OF NIGHT unveils the Greek-American crime syndicate and its close alignment to power from Pennsylvania Avenue to the halls of the Justice Department, and takes readers to a dark place where high-level crime, government corruption, and family secrets collide. Kevin Pappas’s story is a true crime epic for a new generation of wiseguys–full of the harrowing war stories and hard-won wisdom of a man who lived by his own rules, broke everyone else's, and dared the world to try and stop him.

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About the author (2009)

Kevin Pappas grew up in Tarpon Springs, Florida, in a family of Irish Jehovah’s Witnesses. Having served eight months in state prison and fourteen years in a federal penitentiary for racketeering and drug running, Pappas now lives with his family in Atlanta, Georgia. He is no longer involved in the Greek mafia.

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