|Totowa, N.J. - The New Jersey State Police have stopped a murder for hire plot yesterday with the arrest of a manager from a popular North Jersey diner. The arrest was announced today at a press conference by Attorney General Jeff Chiesa, State Police Colonel Rick Fuentes, and Division of Criminal Justice Director Elie Honig.
Detectives from the Violent & Organized Crime North Bureau arrested Georgios Spyropoulos, 45, of Clifton, N.J. on Tuesday at noon at the Tick Tock Diner on Rt. 3 in Clifton. Spyropoulos manages that diner. His intended victim was his uncle, Alexandros Sgourdos, 57, of Clifton, who manages the Tick Tock Diner in Manhattan, N.Y. Sgourdos is also co-owners of the two Tick Tock diners.
“Motivated by greed, Spyropoulos allegedly had planned in great detail how he would have his uncle tortured, robbed and murdered, and he had enlisted two men who he thought were going to carry out his ruthless plot,” said Attorney General Chiesa. “Fortunately, the State Police were able to completely ensnare him in his own diabolical trap.”
“Our trooper played the would-be assassin to whom Spyropoulos gave the gun and cash. Spyropoulos made a deal with the wrong hit man, and we were thankfully able to save a life,” said Colonel Rick Fuentes. “I’m very proud of the professional work of all those involved.”
"Alerted of this murder plot as a result of their network of informants in North Jersey, members of the State Police conducted this undercover investigation in textbook fashion, leading to yesterday's arrest and these serious charges against Spyropoulos," said Director Elie Honig of the Division of Criminal Justice. "We will prosecute him to the full extent of the law."
State Police detectives learned through a confidential source that Spyropoulos was looking for someone to murder Sgourdos for him. They were then able to introduce an undercover trooper to play the part of a would-be assassin. On Tuesday, April 2nd, Spyropoulos provided the “hired killer” with an unregistered handgun, a photo of the intended target, his address, and a down payment of $3,000.
Though the investigation is ongoing, it is believed that Spyropoulos hoped to steal a large amount of cash he believed Sgourdos kept in a safe. He indicated to the under cover hit man that he needed Sgourdos to divulge the combination to the safe before he was killed. Spyropoulos also wanted the under cover trooper to make sure the victim’s body was not found because he believed there would be less of an investigation on a missing person than a murder.
After troopers arrested Spyropoulos, his home was searched and two semiautomatic handguns, one shotgun and one assault style rifle were seized. A search of his vehicle, a silver Mercedes Benz, revealed six cell phones and several thousand dollars in cash. It is not clear what the large number of phones were used for.
Spyropoulos was initially charged with conspiracy to commit murder, attempt to commit murder, and unlawful possession of a weapons. He was lodged in Passaic County Jail in default of $1 million full cash bail.
The investigation was led by State Police Detective Sergeant Peter Layng of the Drug Trafficking North Unit with legal assistance of the Division of Criminal Justice led by Supervising Deputy Attorney General Lauren Scarpa Yfantis. The charges will also be prosecuted by DCJ, under the guidance of Director Elie Honig.
Charges are mere accusations. All defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.