Court rejects appeal of Thessaloniki loan shark

A 50-year-old Thessaloniki businessman who prosecutors said was the mastermind behind a usury ring dubbed by local media as “the mafia of the Thermaic Gulf,” has been sentenced to 19 years in prison and ordered to pay a 111,000-euro fine.

An appeals court in Thessaloniki on Friday rejected his appeal and upheld the prison sentence. He was set to return to the jail where he has been detained for the past 18 months.

The 50-year-old was found guilty of blackmail, money laundering and of setting up a criminal organization.

Another nine defendants, including the man’s wife, his two children and a former PAOK soccer player, were handed sentences of between 2.5 and 8 years in prison. They were all members of the same ring, one of three exposed during a police crackdown on loan sharks in northern Greece in January last year.

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