Georgios Spyropoulos, Tick Tock diner manager, accused of hiring hit man to kill uncle

This booking photo released Wednesday, April 10, 2013 by the New Jersey State Police shows Georgios Spyropoulos, arrested Tuesday at the Tick Tock Diner that he manages in Clifton, N.J. Spyropoulos faces conspiracy charges in a plot to have a hit man kill his uncle. (AP Photo/New Jersey State Police)
Georgios Spyropoulos
AP Photo/New Jersey State Police

(CBS/AP) TOTOWA, N.J. - A manager of a popular New Jersey diner is accused of hiring a hit man earlier this month to kill his uncle in an alleged murder plot fueled by greed, authorities said Wednesday.

Georgios Spyropoulos, the 45-year-old manager of the Tick Tock diner in Clifton, asked an undercover trooper posing as a hit man to kill 57-year-old Alexandros Sgourdos and get rid of the body so it couldn't be found, authorities said.

Sgourdos co-owns the New Jersey diner and also manages the other Tick Tock diner, a popular tourist spot across the street from Penn Station, in Manhattan.

Authorities said Spyropoulos resented the control his uncle exerted over the New Jersey restaurant, which was featured on Guy Fieri's Food Network show, "Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives." He also allegedly felt his uncle was taking an unfair share of the profits.

"I think it's an understatement to say they weren't close," Attorney General Jeffrey Chiesa told a news conference.

Spyropoulos was arrested Tuesday and is being held in lieu of $1 million bail on charges of conspiracy to commit murder, attempted murder and unlawful possession of a weapon.

Chiesa said investigators believe Spyropoulos was motived by greed and wanted to steal a large amount of cash that his uncle kept in a safe. He allegedly told the undercover officer to make sure to get the combination to his uncle's safe before killing him.

Spyropoulos suggested the undercover officer kidnap the uncle from his Clifton home and torture him until he gave up the combination, Chiesa said.

The nephew provided the officer with a $3,000 down payment, a photo of his uncle, a map of his home and his daily schedule, including how he parked his car, authorities said. He also allegedly provided an unregistered handgun.

"Once I leave here today, this is on," the undercover officer reportedly told the owner's nephew during an April 2 meeting.

The total payment for the killing and disposal of the body was to be $20,000.

The nephew wanted to make sure the body was not found so that it remained a missing person case, not a murder investigation, authorities said. If his uncle's wife posed any problem, Spyropoulos told the officer to kill her, too.

Authorities said a search of Spyropoulos' home turned up two semi-automatic handguns, a shotgun and what the attorney general's office called an "assault-style rifle." Chiesa said six cellphones and several thousand dollars in cash were recovered from the nephew's Mercedes Benz.

Authorities said the undercover operation was started as the result of a tip from a state police informant.

The classic chrome diner, a popular spot among fans attending Jets and Giants games at the stadium in the Meadowlands a few miles away, is considered a landmark to many people who live or travel along Route 3 in northern New Jersey.