Tick Tock Diner manager pleads not guilty in New Jersey murder plot

April 12, 2013 2:40:41 PM PDT
Hands and feet shackled, George Spyropoulous faced a judge for the first time accused of planning a mob style hit on Alexandros Sgourdos, his wife's uncle and part owner of the famed Tick Tock Diner in Clifton.

Spyropoulous, a manager at the family diner, answered a few of the judges questions, but didn't say anything else as he entered a not guilty plea.

The prosecutor's office says, however, they have him on tape saying quite a bit, beginning with hiring a hit man to kill his uncle and he "didn't give a (expletive)" if his aunt was killed in the process. He wanted the combination to a safe at the diner containing thousands in cash.

"I think it makes for great reading, but it's not true. I don't have any reason to believe it's true," defense attorney Mathew Cavaliere said.

His attorney also doesn't think much of the three waitresses suing his client now for sexual harassment. James Dezao represents one of them.

"He would make rude sexual comments to her in exchange for job hours and things of that nature," Dezao said.

He says his client told Spyropoulous' uncle about the harassment and that could have caused some friction.

The police informant posing as a hit man also says Spyropoulous might have had more people on his hit list when he told him, "we"ll have a lot more to do."

Spyropoulous lives with his wife and two children, but no one answered at the home today. There's no telling how she reacted to the fact that her husband is charged with trying to have her uncle killed.

"The family is distraught, they're mortified, they're embarrassed," Cavaliere said after the hearing. "This is a family of strong, passionate personalities. They know him; they know his personality. They can't believe he would ever have the idea to orchestrate something like this."

According to court documents, state authorities began investigating Spyropoulos in February after he allegedly approached a state police drug informant seeking someone to kill Sgourdos, whom Spyropoulos believed to have a considerable amount of money. A state police 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 extract the combination to a safe at the diner from Sgourdos 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 an April 2 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.

Three days later at the diner, according to the affidavit, Spyropoulos gave the initial informant a white pastry box containing roach spray and insect traps for the exterminator ruse.

State police arrested Spyropoulos on Tuesday after they were unable to immediately locate Sgourdos and became concerned that Spyropoulos may have solicited other people to carry out the hit, a state police detective sergeant wrote in a handwritten note attached to the affidavit.

Spyropoulos' bail remains at $1 million cash. Cavaliere said he would try to get the bail adjusted so that Spyropoulos would have the chance to post a bond or property.