By: E&P Staff
Baltimore City Paper has lost a defamation suit brought by a Miami restaurateur who it incorrectly stated was a federal fugitive.
Baltimore magazine reported that the mistaken identity came in a story by City Paper senior staff writer Van Smith about the August, 2008 raid of six Baltimore properties associated with Milton Tillman Jr., a convicted felon facing federal tax charges.
Iannnis “Crazy John” Kafouros, who owned one of the properties, was thought to have left Baltimore a decade ago to avoid theft charges, Baltimore magazine reported. Van Smith sought to locate Crazy John, and a Google search revealed there was a Iannis Kafouros living in Miami.
Smith called the Greek resturant with which Kafouros was associated and reached his son, Alexios, Baltimore magazine reported, and in his story, Smith wrote that the son confirmed that “his father is the same Ionnis Kafouris as the one from Baltimore, and [that] his mother, Diane Kafouris, lives in Baltimore.”
The alt-weekly has been ordered to pay Kafouros $350,000 for defamation and acting with negligence. They did not, however, find that Smith or his paper acted with malice.
City Paper publisher Don Farley told Baltimore magazine the judgement would not affect the alt-weekly’s survival. Farley and City Paper’s lawyers have not yet decided if they will appeal the decision.