Super Bowl ‘scammer’ grew mustache before disappearance

Written By kom nampuldu on Minggu, 22 Maret 2015 | 20.49

Just before he skipped town nearly two months ago, John Kambakakis did something pals thought was odd.

"He grew a big fu-manchu," recalled Mario Ariemma, a Staten Island deli owner who'd been serving overstuffed Italian heroes to the stocky Greek janitor for decades.

It was almost as if he was trying to disguise himself.

"I said, 'John, you look like Lucifer.'"

Today, the devil himself may be more welcome on Staten Island.

"He can't show his face here ever again," said Ariemma. "He disgraced himself. He should go into the witness protection program."

Kambakakis, 63, disappeared on Jan. 28, last seen in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn collecting cash for the Super Bowl office pools he organized for decades at Staten Island University Hospital, where he worked as a janitor until his retirement last year.

This year, he was running six of the traditional "box'' pools, offering spaces from $10 to $100, and collecting about $25,000 in all, gamblers said.

The missing signs family and friends posted before authorities located Kambakakis.

It was well known that around the time of the big game, Kambakakis was carrying a large amount of cash, locals said.

That's why his family and friends feared the worst — that he was murdered for the loot. A massive search was launched, including a Facebook page that begged anyone with information to come forward.

Kambakakis' daughter, KristinaPhoto: Gregory P. Mango

But 10 days after he vanished, Kambakakis was located alive and well in Daytona Beach, Fla., where NYPD detectives traced a debit-card purchase to a 7-Eleven. His family identified him through a store surveillance video, cops said.

Kambakakis has never returned, but is no longer deemed missing. And with no formal complaints filed against him by the hundreds of pool entrants he stiffed, cops have not charged him with a crime.

Santo AriemmaPhoto: Angel Chevrestt

Staten Islanders such as Santo Ariemma who plunked down $250 on his pools are irate.

"Why did he disappear? Because he's a loser," said Santo, 20, who said he knew Kambakakis since he was 5 years old.

Those who knew Kambakakis said his vices got the better of him. He had the gambling itch — everything from scratch-off cards to taking monthly jaunts down to Atlantic City by bus.

"My assumption is the guy must have lost everybody's money and had no outlet — except to run away," said Mario Ariemma.

But longtime friends remain puzzled by his disappearance.

"He was a good kid — I don't know what happened," said Greek diner mogul Mike Moudatsos, who worked on an Orient Cargo Line boat with Kambakakis in the late 1960s.

Kambakakis grew up outside of Athens, and eventually moved to New York City, worked in several diners, and then was hired as a porter at the hospital, where he rose to union delegate.

"He never used to gamble. He used to just work," Moudatsos said. But a a few years ago, he said Kambakis asked him for money to pay his mortgage. "I gave him about $600. I never asked for it back."

Meanwhile, Kambakakis's daughter Kristina, 28, defiantly defended her dad — and said jilted gamblers need to get a life.

"[They're] talking about how he's a gambler and all that? He's a thief? They're a f—ing bunch of degenerate gambling a–holes," she told The Post. "Who are they to judge him?"

She says she has yet to hear a peep from her pop since he left town.

"He's my father, and I love him. And I'm happy he's OK. And everyone else can go f—ING? kiss my ass."


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