PATERSON, N.J. (CBSNewYork) – The manager of a popular Clifton diner has pleaded not guilty to charges he tried to hire a hit man to kill his uncle.
Georgios Spyropoulos appeared in court in shackles Friday on conspiracy to commit murder, attempt to commit murder and unlawful possession of a weapons charges. He has been held on $1 million bail since being arrested Wednesday.
Spyropoulos allegedly hired a would-be hit man, who turned out to be an undercover state trooper, to have his uncle Alexandros Sgourdos ”tortured, robbed and murdered,” Attorney General Jeffrey Chiesa said.
“He allegedly devised a plan to hire a hit man to kill his uncle and get rid of the body so it would be treated as missing person’s case rather than a homicide,” Chiesa said.
Sgourdos co-owns the Tick Tock diners in Clifton and Manhattan.
Authorities said Spyropoulos dished out $3,000 and was willing to pay $20,000 for his uncle to not only be killed, but for the would-be assassin to torture him until he gave up the combination to a safe that contains a large amount of money.
Court documents claim Spyropoulos gave a cop, who was pretending to be a hitman, a chrome-plated revolver wrapped in a dishtowel.
Those documents also indicate that Spyropoulos gave an informant a pastry box containing roach spray and insect traps — a disguise so the “hitman” could pretend to be an exterminator to gain entry to the posh home of the target, CBS 2′s Tony Aiello reported.
“We allege that Spyropoulos resented his uncle’s control over the family-owned diners and believed the uncle received an unfair share of the profits,” Chiesa said.
Spyropoulos attorney Matthew Cavaliere denied the charges and said the allegations are a sensationalized story.
“Sometimes, what happens, even in close families, tempers flare and people say things and sometimes even do things and that’s a part of impassioned families,” Cavaliere told reporters Friday.
Spyropoulos is a married father of two young children. His attorney said they are all devastated and are now trying to raise the $1 million cash bail to get him out.
“Somewhere sitting out in Boise is a guy reading about New Jersey thinking about ‘The Sopranos’ and thinking this is what New Jersey is all about,” Cavaliere said.
The case will now go before a grand jury. Prosecutors have asked that Spyropoulos surrender his passport and stay away from his uncle and his uncle’s family.
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