Bolaris: Fox29 ‘whacked’ me, not the Russian mob

john bolaris
Metro columnist John Bolaris

For me, personally and professionally, it has been a wild ride.

I returned to the city of Philadelphia around Christmas 2007 to finish my career as chief meteorologist on Fox29 News and live for the rest of my life in the city that I fell in love with back in the early ’90s.

This city was so much freakin’ fun! I’m not going to list everything about it. And for those of you that feel NYC has something over Philly: no way. I was born and raised in New York, and Philly has a unique coziness about it — an all-in-it-together kind of thing. It’s tough at times, but so is life.

But an unfortunate set of circumstances has changed my professional and personal life forever. I was fired from Fox around Christmas 2011 for talking to the press about being a victim of a crime. A Russian crime ring operating in Miami drugged me and stole over $43,000 from my credit card. There were 88 other victims. I was embarrassed, humiliated, angry and scared, and I used everything in my personal arsenal to fight back, and yes, that included the press.

Well, today I feel vindicated. I testified in front of a Grand Jury and also in a federal courtroom, with the three mob leaders staring me down and four members of their defense team trying to rattle me, discredit me, cross me up and leaking lies to the press. I persevered, because the truth was my story.

In the past week, ALL were sentenced to serve between 6.5 and 12 years in prison. I know I’m sounding far from humble as I write this, but it has been a long, painful three years. I lost my job, sold my house and shortly, I’ll be leaving the town I love. This was not the way I wanted my career to end in Philadelphia.

I’ve worked very hard for more than 25 years doing what I was born to do: forecast the weather. I’ve tried to stay here in Philly, but couldn’t even get a job as a fill-in. This to me was just as humiliating, frustrating and as embarrassing as the crime committed against me.

To put it simply, I was punished (fired from job) for being a victim of a crime and talking about it.

In summary, the Russian mob couldn’t whack me, but Fox29 did. This is no reflection of Fox29 itself, as I respect all the people who work there, and the Fox company treated me fairly.

It’s not the present management team; it was the prior team, specifically the general manager, who is no longer the GM at Fox29. He was unethical, verbally abusive and crossed moral boundaries.

They escorted me out of the building on Dec. 23, 2011, like I was some kind of common criminal. After 25 years in this industry, that day will haunt me for the rest of my life. And the kicker, as they say in the news biz, was that they would not even let me retrieve my daughters’ photos on the way out the door.

Sorry, had to get that off my chest.


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