Georgios Spyropoulos, 46, of Clifton, pleaded guilty to first-degree conspiracy to commit murder. The state plans to recommend a 10-year prison sentence with 85 percent to be served before he's eligible for parole followed by up to five years of supervised release, the Attorney General's Office said.
Spyropoulos also signed a consent order that prohibits him from ever having contact with the victim, the victim’s family or any of the family’s businesses in the future. Sentencing is scheduled for Sept. 19.
“This was an intricate plot driven by greed and jealousy,” said Col. Rick Fuentes, superintendent of the New Jersey State Police. “Spyropoulos wanted a family member tortured and ultimately killed, and he went to great lengths to make that happen. I am proud of the great work by our detectives and those involved with the prosecution.”
The New Jersey State Police foiled the murder plot in April 2013. Spyropoulos admitted he hired a hit man to kill his uncle. He also admitted he asked the hit man, who turned out to be an undercover detective for the New Jersey State Police, to threaten the uncle first to obtain information that Spyropoulos intended to use to rob his uncle of a large sum of money, the Attorney General's Office said.
“Thanks to the New Jersey State Police, we have a guilty nephew going to prison, instead of an uncle in a shallow grave,” Acting Attorney General John Hoffman said. “Had they not intervened, this murder plot appears likely to have been carried out, because Spyropoulos did everything in his power to set it in motion, including delivering a gun and a down payment to the man he hired to kill his uncle.”
The investigation was led by State Police Detective Sgt. 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.
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 one on Route 3 in Clifton.
The state’s investigation revealed that Spyropoulos resented the extent his uncle controlled and profited from the two family-owned diners, the Attorney General's Office said. Spyropoulos wanted to increase his own role in the ownership and management of the Tick Tock Diner in Clifton, the Attorney General's Office said.
The plot unraveled because, when he sought help in finding an assassin, the person he approached was an informant for the State Police, the Attorney General's Office said.
Spyropoulos met with the State Police informant in March 2013 and in a recorded conversation, laid out his plot to have his uncle killed. He asked the informant to help him find a hit man to kill his uncle, the Attorney General's Office said. The informant alerted the State Police, who arranged for an undercover detective to pose as the hit man.
The informant and the undercover State Police detective met with Spyropoulos on March 28, 2013. 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, according to the Attorney General's Office.
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, the Attorney General's Office said.
The three men met in the parking lot of the Home Depot in Clifton on April 2, 2013. 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, according to the Attorney General's Office.
Spryropoulos 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.
“This guilty plea ensures that Spyropoulos will have a long time behind bars to think about the tragedy that might have resulted from his conduct,” Director Elie Honig of the Division of Criminal Justice said. “Law enforcement did him a favor by uncovering his plot, but he deserves no break when it comes to paying the price for this serious crime."