The former manager of a popular northern New Jersey diner was sentenced Friday to eight years in prison for trying to hire a hit man to kill his uncle, a co-owner of the restaurant, in an attempt to gain greater control for himself.
Georgios Spyropoulos pleaded guilty in July to conspiracy to commit murder and had faced up to 10 years in prison. The 46-year-old will be required to serve 85 percent of his sentence before being eligible for parole under New Jersey's No Early Release Act.
Spyropoulos managed the Tick Tock Diner in Clifton, a classic chrome diner that has been featured on Guy Fieri's Food Network show "Diners, Drive-ins and Dives." According to state investigators, Spyropoulos resented the level of control Alexandro Sgourdos, his uncle by marriage, exerted over the diner and another Tick Tock Diner in New York City. Sgourdos co-owns both restaurants and manages the New York location.
According to court documents, state authorities began investigating Spyropoulos in early 2013 after he approached a state police drug informant seeking someone to kill Sgourdos. An undercover detective played the role of the hit man and attended several meetings with Spyropoulos over the ensuing weeks that were secretly recorded.
Spyropoulos wanted one of them to threaten Sgourdos to get him to reveal the combination to a safe at the diner before killing him, then have the other dress as an exterminator and remove the money from the safe, according to the arrest affidavit. The hit man was to be paid from the cash stolen out of the safe.
The purported hit man told investigators that Spyropoulos gave him a chrome-plated revolver wrapped in two white dish towels at a meeting at a Home Depot parking lot not far from the diner. He also provided $3,000 and a picture of Sgourdos, saying, "That's the piece of (bleep)." The hit man was to eventually receive an additional $17,000.
"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 Elie Honig, director of the state Division of Criminal Justice. "His attention to detail failed, however, when it came to checking the background of his hit man."