Alexandros Sgourdos, co-owner of The Grove catering hall in Cedar Grove, was the intended victim of an elaborate murder-for-hire plot involving his nephew, state police said at a news conference Wednesday.
Sgourdos is a co-owner of the Tick Tock Diner in Clifton, as well as the Cedar Grove catering hall, located at 691 Pompton Ave.
Diner manager Georgios Spyropoulos, 45, of Clifton was arrested Monday at the Allwood Road eatery for allegedly plotting to have his 57-year old uncle killed, authorities said.
Sgourdos could not be reached Wednesday afternoon for comment.
“Motivated by greed, Spyropoulos allegedly had planned in great detail how he would have his uncle tortured, robbed and murdered, and he has enlisted two men who he thought were going to carry out the ruthless plot,” Attorney General Jeffrey Chiesa said in a statement.
Spyropoulos was charged with conspiracy to commit murder, attempt to commit murder and unlawful possession of a weapon. He is lodged in the Passaic County Jail on $1 million cash bail. He was seating people at the diner during lunch when four police officers arrived to arrest him. Chiesa said Spyropoulous was "shocked" when he was taken into custody.
Spyropoulos enlisted the help of a man who turned out to be a confidential informant for the state police, said Chiesa and State Police Superintendent Rick Fuentes. A trooper then played the role of the would-be assassin after authorities began investigating Spyropoulos.
Chiesa and Fuentes said Spyropoulos gave the trooper an unregistered handgun, a photo of Sgourdos, a map of his uncle's neighborhood, and $3,000 as a down payment on a $20,000 deal to kill the diner co-owner.
“Fortunately, the State Police were able to completely ensnare him in his own diabolical trap," Chiesa said.
The trooper was told by Spyropoulos to make his uncle's body disappear, so any ensuing investigation would be treated as a missing persons case instead of a homicide, Chiesa and Fuentes said. Spyropoulos' alleged motivation in the plot was to advance himself financially, authorities said.
Authorities said Spyropoulos had hoped the "hit man" would torture his uncle for the combination to a safe so he could steal a large amount of cash, kill him, and dispose of the body.
Spyropoulos his uncle would be home and how to disarm the security cameras at his home, Chiesa said. The man was also under orders to kill Sgourdos' wife, who should have been at home at the time of the murder.
A search of Spyropoulos' Clifton home turned up two semi-automatic handguns, one of them was unregistered, one shotgun and one assault-style rife, Chiesa and Fuentes said. A search of his silver Mercedes Benz netted six cell phones and several thousand dollars in cash, they said.
The Tick Tock Diner opened in 1948. A fixture in North Jersey, the 24-hour diner was featured on the Food Network's “Diners , Drive-Ins and Dives” hosted by Guy Fieri.