The Reporter

He had become a legendary figure in the annals of Philadelphia journalism …

When a Federal grand jury, for instance, charged some members of the Pennsylvania Refuse Removal Association of conspiring to fix prices, Karafin appeared (he was introduced by Donolow committee co-counsel, Joseph Savitz) and offered the trash collectors his services for $1000 a month. Although the Association hired him, its members were found guilty anyway.

When the District Attorney’s office began looking into the abuses of debt collection agencies, Karafin appeared at one such firm and told the owner he was in dire need of his services. "You’re wide open," he said. Admitted Harold Whittaker, president of National Collection and Credit Control, one of the firms that did hire Karafin: "Harry has offered a lot more services than I could take advantage of as far as publicity is concerned. In the collection business, unfortunately, the quieter it is sometimes the better."

When the Combs College of Music was charged by a former student that it had lured him into its program by falsely claiming it was accredited, Harry Karafin appeared on the scene as a public relations consultant at a modest $3000 annual fee.

When Jack Alter, president of Teachers Service Organization, a Philadelphia loan firm, was subpoenaed before Senator Donolow’s committee in 1962, the Inquirer reported a warrant had been issued for his arrest. It wasn’t but shortly afterwards Joseph Ball showed up and suggested that Alter’s firm could use certain public relations services. As a result, Harry Karafin wound up with a new client and over $12,000 in fees over the next few years.

When his close friend Constable Murray Adler’s business was failing, he got another close friend, Magistrate (now City Councilman) Joe Hersch, to throw the traffic scofflaw work to Adler. Then he wrote a series of sensationalized articles about traffic scofflaw work to Adler. Then he wrote a series of sensationalized articles about traffic scofflaws which aided Adler in his collection work. As a result, for a couple of years after, Karafin and his wife were Saturday night dinner guests of the Adlers at expensive restaurants all over town. (At one time, the late Mitch Cohen, one of Mafia-boss Bruno’s lieutenants, picked up the tab for the Karafins every Sunday at the Latin Casino.)

THERE IS NO doubt about it: Reporter Harry Karafin became, in a few short years, one of the most successful public relations men in Philadelphia — despite the fact that many people now claim they did business with him reluctantly. "I don’t like to deal with Harry," says one of his clients, "but he can do things for me. It’s like castor oil. You don’t like to take it but sometimes you have to.”

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