Acting Attorney General John J. Hoffman announced that the former manager of the landmark Tick Tock Diner in Clifton was sentenced to prison today for attempting to hire a hit man to murder his uncle. The New Jersey State Police foiled the alleged murder plot and arrested the manager in April 2013.
Georgios Spyropoulos, 46, of Clifton, was sentenced to eight years in state prison, including nearly seven years of parole ineligibility under the No Early Release Act, by Superior Court Judge Ernest M. Caposela in Passaic County. In addition, he will be subject to five years of supervised release after he completes the prison sentence. He pleaded guilty on July 14 to a first-degree charge of conspiracy to commit murder. At the time of his guilty plea, Spyropoulos signed a consent order that prohibits him from ever having any contact with the victim, the victim’s family or any of the family’s businesses in the future.
Supervising Deputy Attorney General Lauren Scarpa Yfantis, Chief of the Gangs & Organized Crime Bureau, and Deputy Attorney General Annmarie Taggart, Deputy Bureau Chief, prosecuted the case and handled the sentencing for the Division of Criminal Justice.
In pleading guilty, Spyropoulos admitted that he hired a hit man to kill his uncle. He further admitted that he asked the hit man – who turned out to be an undercover detective for the New Jersey State Police – to threaten the uncle first in order to obtain information that Spyropoulos intended to use to rob his uncle of a large sum of money he believed his uncle possessed.
“If vicious, vindictive men like Georgios Spyropoulos held sway, we would live in a much more violent world,” said Acting Attorney General Hoffman. “Fortunately, law and order – in the form of the New Jersey State Police – prevailed in this case, and his elaborate plot to have his uncle tortured and murdered has instead ended in a lengthy prison sentence for Spyropoulos.”
“Spyropoulos went to great lengths to ensure his uncle would be murdered, providing the hit man with a gun, a down payment, photos of his uncle and even a Google map to the uncle’s house,” said Director Elie Honig of the Division of Criminal Justice. “His attention to detail failed, however, when it came to checking the background of his hit man. This was an outstanding undercover investigation, which saved a life in all likelihood and secured a long term behind bars for this murderous nephew.”
“I am proud that the members of the New Jersey State Police were able to save the entire Sgourdos family from the devastating tragedy they would have suffered had this murder for hire plot not been thwarted,” said Colonel Rick Fuentes, Superintendent of the New Jersey State Police.
The investigation was led by State Police Detective Sergeant Peter Layng of the Drug Trafficking North Unit. Detectives from the New Jersey State Police Violent & Organized Crime North Bureau arrested Spyropoulos on April 9, 2013. Spyropoulos was indicted on Nov. 6, 2013. Deputy Attorneys General Yfantis and Taggart presented the case to the state grand jury for the Division of Criminal Justice Gangs & Organized Crime Bureau.
In early 2013, Spyropoulos attempted to hire a hit man to kill his uncle by marriage, Alexandro Sgourdos, 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. The state’s investigation revealed that Spyropoulos resented the extent to which the uncle controlled and profited from the two family-owned diners. Spyropoulos wanted to increase his own role in the ownership and management of the Tick Tock Diner in Clifton. He also wanted the hit man to torture or threaten the uncle to obtain information Spyropoulos intended to use to steal a large sum of cash he believed his uncle possessed.
The plot unraveled because, when he sought help in finding an assassin, the person he approached was an informant for the State Police. Spyropoulos met with the State Police informant in March 2013 and, in a conversation secretly recorded by the informant, laid out his plot to have his uncle killed. He asked the informant to help him find a hit man to murder his uncle. The informant alerted the State Police, who arranged for an undercover detective to pose as the “hit man.”
On March 28, 2013, the informant and the undercover State Police detective met with Spyropoulos. During that meeting, which also was secretly recorded, Spyropoulos agreed to pay the “hit man” $20,000 if he tortured or threatened the uncle to obtain information related to a large sum of cash Spyropoulos believed his uncle possessed, then killed the uncle and disposed of his body. Spyropoulos 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, 2013 the three men met in the parking lot of the Home Depot in Clifton. Spyropoulos 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.
Following his arrest on April 9, 2013, Spyropoulos was initially held in the Passaic County Jail with bail set at $1 million. He posted bail on May 21, 2013 after his bail was reduced to $600,000.