Fired Weatherman's 'Hangover' Helps Expose Rising Russian Mafia

John Bolaris was caught up in the Russian mafia while on a trip to South Beach.

ByABC News
January 20, 2012, 11:21 AM

Jan. 20, 2012— -- It's a story that has been dubbed the real-life "Hangover," but it has helped expose the underground criminal workings of a newly powerful mafia taking hold in South Florida.

What began as a leisure trip to Miami Beach, Fla., for Philadelphia weatherman John Bolaris ended with him allegedly being drugged and swindled out of more than $43,700, losing his job at a local TV station and having to make multiple court appearances.

While on his trip in March 2010, Bolaris, a notorious ladies' man with a Playboy Playmate girlfriend, became unwittingly caught up in the vast criminal empire of a new mafia made up of Russians and Eastern Europeans, and fell prey to what police call one of the mob's entry level scams.

With an ongoing FBI investigation, Bolaris couldn't talk to ABC News, but designated his friend and lawyer Charles Peruto to tell his story from the beginning.

"[Bolaris] checks into his hotel, ready to go out for a couple of drinks, see what's out there. These two beautiful girls, they come onto him," Peruto said. "This is every man's dream. He wasn't looking for trouble. Trouble found him."

This new mob has muscled out other mafias in recent years to carve out a Miami Beach monopoly, investigators told ABC News. There is no knee capping, thumb breaking or baseball bats to the head, only the velvet glove of seduction.

In a tell-all interview with Playboy, Bolaris said he was sitting in South Beach's luxury Delano Hotel when these two gorgeous women approached him.

"I'm a guy," he told the magazine. "There was a thought I might get laid. ... I was used to girls in Philly coming on to me aggressively once they found out I was John Bolaris, the TV weatherman."

The two women were Eastern European, exotic and beautiful. They told him they wanted to buy him drinks and "do shot." It's a catchphrase that later became a Twitter sensation.

According to Peruto, the next thing Bolaris remembered was waking up back in his hotel room at the Fontainebleau a few blocks away with an intense hangover and in possession of a $2,500 painting of a woman's head, but no memory of the night before.

"The next day, [Bolaris] doesn't remember a thing but gets a phone call from them saying, 'John, you forgot your glasses,'" Peruto said. "So he thinks they're perfectly honest because here they are returning his glasses."

Bolaris met with the two women who gave him back his glasses, and he agreed to go out with them again to a place called the Caviar Bar. Bolaris' attorney defended his client's actions.

"If you're a guy, your thoughts get clouded by beautiful women," Peruto said. "They're so nice and they start talking to him about what a good time [they had] and he just can't remember. He just has to presume he had a great time. It was a rough night, but these people seem to be pretty honest."

But they weren't honest, and Bolaris' second night out with the women was a repeat of the first.

"Next thing you know, he's up in his room again, has no idea what went on," Peruto said. "[Bolaris] comes back to Philadelphia, where he works, and the next thing you know, he gets this ridiculous credit card bill."