TRENTON – The former manager of the landmark Tick Tock Diner in Clifton was indicted today by a state grand jury on charges that he attempted to hire a hit man to murder his uncle, Acting Attorney General John J. Hoffman announced. The New Jersey State Police foiled the alleged murder plot and arrested the manager in April.
The Division of Criminal Justice Gangs & Organized Crime Bureau obtained an indictment charging Georgios Spyropoulos, 45, of Clifton, with conspiracy to commit murder (1st degree), attempted murder (1st degree), attempted robbery (2nd degree), possession of a weapon for an unlawful purpose (2nd degree), unlawful possession of a weapon (2nd degree), and unlawful transfer of a weapon (4th degree).
Spyropoulos allegedly attempted to hire a hit man to kill his uncle by marriage, Alexandro Sgourdos, 57, of Clifton, who manages the Tick Tock Diner in Manhattan, N.Y., and is a co-owner of that diner as well as the diner on Route 3 in Clifton. Spyropoulos allegedly resented the extent to which the uncle controlled and profited from the two family-owned diners.
Spyropoulos allegedly wanted to increase his own role in the ownership and management of the Tick Tock Diner in Clifton. He also allegedly wanted the hit man to torture or threaten the uncle to obtain the combination to the safe at the diner in Manhattan, so Spyropoulos could steal the large sum of cash he believed his uncle kept there. The plot unraveled because, when he allegedly sought help in finding an assassin, the person he approached was an informant for the State Police. The informant alerted the State Police, who arranged for an undercover detective to pose as the “hit man.”
“The New Jersey State Police prevented a case of bad blood within a family business from turning into a case of cold-blooded murder,” said Hoffman. “If there had not been a State Police informant and an undercover detective positioned to foil this murder plot, the result would have been tragic, because Spyropoulos allegedly took every step necessary to hire and equip men he believed would brutally murder his uncle and steal his money.”
“This was not just a case of Spyropoulos having a bad day and making idle threats,” said Director Elie Honig of the Division of Criminal Justice. “We allege that Spyropoulos took concrete steps to execute a plan to rob and murder his own uncle. With this indictment, we will make certain that he faces justice for his conduct.”
“We are proud of the critical role that our undercover detective played in preventing this planned murder,” said Colonel Rick Fuentes, Superintendent of the New Jersey State Police. “The State Police are constantly developing confidential sources and information that we use to protect the public.”
Supervising Deputy Attorney General Lauren Scarpa Yfantis, Chief of the Gangs & Organized Crime Bureau, and Deputy Attorney General Annmarie Taggart, Deputy Bureau Chief, presented the indictment to the state grand jury for the Division of Criminal Justice. The investigation was led by State Police Detective Sergeant Peter Layng of the Drug Trafficking North Unit.
Spyropoulos met with the State Police informant in March and, in a conversation secretly recorded by the informant, allegedly laid out his plot to have his uncle killed and steal cash from the safe in Manhattan. He allegedly asked the informant to help him find a hit man to murder his uncle. The informant also allegedly was supposed to pose as an exterminator to enter the Manhattan diner and steal the cash from the safe, once they had the combination.
On March 28, the informant and the undercover State Police detective met with Spyropoulos. During that meeting, which also was secretly recorded, Spyropoulos allegedly agreed to pay the “hit man” $20,000 if he tortured or threatened the uncle to obtain the combination to the safe, killed the uncle, and disposed of his body. Spyropoulos allegedly wanted the hit man to make sure the victim’s body was not found because he believed there would be less of an investigation if law enforcement viewed it as a missing person case rather than a murder.
On April 2, the three men allegedly met in the parking lot of the Home Depot in Clifton. Spyropoulos allegedly gave the undercover detective a revolver to use in the killing, two photographs of the uncle, a Google map showing the location of the uncle’s house, and a $3,000 down-payment for the hit.
Detectives from the New Jersey State Police Violent & Organized Crime North Bureau arrested Spyropoulos on April 9. Spryopolous was initially held in the Passaic County Jail with bail set at $1 million. He posted bail on May 21, after his bail was reduced to $600,000, and he remains free.
The first-degree charges carry a sentence of 10 to 20 years in state prison and a fine of up to $200,000. Second-degree crimes carry a sentence of five to 10 years in state prison and a fine of up to $150,000, while fourth-degree crimes carry a sentence of up to 18 months in state prison and a fine of up to $10,000.
The indictment is merely an accusation and the defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty.
The indictment was handed up to Superior Court Judge Mary C. Jacobson in Mercer County, who assigned the case to Passaic County, where the defendant will be ordered to appear in court at a later date for arraignment. The arraignment has not been scheduled at this time.
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