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N.J. diner manager charged in murder-for-hire

TOTOWA, N.J. -- The manager of a popular diner who felt he wasn't getting his fair share of the profits tried to have a hit man kill his uncle, who co-owns the restaurant and a second diner near Penn Station in Manhattan, authorities said Wednesday.

Georgios Spyropoulos, 45, the manager of the Tick Tock diner in Clifton, asked an undercover trooper posing as a hit man to kill Alexandros Sgourdos and to get rid of the body so it couldn't be found, authorities said. Sgourdos, 57, manages the Tick Tock diner, 34th Street and Eighth Avenue. Both are from Clifton.

Authorities said Spyropoulos resented the control his uncle exerted over the Clifton eatery, a classic chrome diner that was featured on Guy Fieri's Food Network show, "Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives" and is popular with Jets and Giants fans with MetLife Stadium just a few miles away. They said he also felt his uncle took an unfair share of the profits.

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

Spyropoulos was 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 wanted to steal a large amount of cash that his uncle kept in a safe and 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 and torture him for the combination, Chiesa said. The nephew provided the officer with a $3,000 down payment on the $20,000 hit contract, a photo of his uncle, a map of his home and his daily schedule. He also allegedly provided an unregistered handgun.

If his uncle's wife posed any problem, Spyropoulos told the officer to kill her, too, authorities said.

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