B.C. mayor accused in lawsuit of death threats against his siblings

The mayor of Penticton, B.C., is being accused in a lawsuit of threatening to kill his brother and sister, and physically assaulting his brother in a dispute over family finances close to two years ago.

In documents filed in B.C. Supreme Court, Mayor John Vassilaki denies the assault and says he acted in self-defence and allegedly attributes the threats to being “upset.”

A notice of application was filed with the court last week on behalf of Vassilaki’s brother, Nicholas Vassilakakis, who spells his surname differently, seeking to quash a civil claim filed by the mayor. It also asks the court to rule in favour of Nicholas Vassilakakis in an earlier counterclaim he filed, with awards for punitive and aggravated damages.

The notice is the latest in a legal battle that began last August when the mayor filed a lawsuit claiming he hadn’t been paid income from a jointly owned rental property.

It includes a transcript of a phone message the mayor allegedly left for his sister in June 2020, saying money must be returned to him or he would “kill all of you.”

Another transcript from an examination for discovery as part of the legal process shows the mayor allegedly told his brother’s lawyer that he had used “foul language” and threats because he was upset.

The assault allegation was initially made in a counterclaim filed by the mayor’s brother last October, but last week’s court filing adds details. It claims Vassilaki left the voicemail right before driving to their sister’s home, where it alleges he pushed her into a kitchen counter, then pushed his brother onto a couch and choked him.

The police were called and Vassilaki had left before they arrived, it says.

None of the allegations in the mayor’s original lawsuit, his brother’s counterclaim or the application filed last week have been proven in court.

Vassilaki declined to comment further when reached by telephone on Monday.

A response has not been filed with the court from the mayor to his brother’s latest filing. A court hearing on the application is scheduled for March 28 in Kelowna.

Vassilaki’s response to the counterclaim alleges his brother had “initiated assault and battery” by lunging at the mayor, who then pinned him down on the couch. It also says the brothers had been talking in a “civil and amicable manner” since the incident and Nicholas Vassilakakis hadn’t indicated that he was injured as a result.

The counterclaim alleges Nicholas Vassilakakis experienced shock and injury to his shoulders along with grief, humiliation and difficulty concentrating and sleeping.

The mayor’s lawsuit filed last August claims his brother and two nephews were withholding his share of income from a jointly owned rental property, an allegation they have denied in documents filed with the court since last fall.

The property is located in downtown Penticton and includes a restaurant operated by the mayor’s brother and sister, as well as five residential rental units.

The mayor’s civil claim says his brother was responsible for paying the mortgage, taxes, utilities and other expenses through a bank account set up for the property, in addition to sending the mayor his share of the rental proceeds.

The document claims the mayor had been paid a total of $23,980 in rental proceeds since 2013, while the property was generating around $90,000 each year.

It alleges that more than $60,000 in rental income was attributed to the mayor between 2013 and 2020, on which he paid taxes but never received the money. A response filed by his brother and nephews deny the mayor is entitled to any rental income.

A response filed last October on behalf of the restaurant, The Cellar Wine Bar, says the company had been paying expenses on behalf of the property’s owners, the mayor and his two nephews, for which it had not been reimbursed. Those expenses, such as fire inspection, snow and garbage removal, and costs associated with changes in tenants, exceed any claim for additional rent, it says.

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