A federal jury convicted Nikolaos Mamalis, age 54, of Edgewood, Md. on Feb. 3, 2011 of conspiring to commit a series of armed commercial and home robberies between July and November 2009, armed robbery and brandishing a gun during a crime of violence.
The jury verdict was announced by United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Rod J. Rosenstein; Special Agent in Charge Richard A. McFeely of the Federal Bureau of Investigation; Commissioner Frederick H. Bealefeld III of the Baltimore City Police Department; Chief James W. Johnson of the Baltimore County Police Department; Baltimore City State’s Attorney Gregg L. Bernstein; and Baltimore County State’s Attorney Scott Shellenberger.
“Superb law enforcement coordination brought the defendant to justice for a string of armed robberies that resulted in the tragic death of Constantine Frank,” said U.S. Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein.
According to evidence presented at the seven day trial, Mamalis helped plan and participated in a series of armed robberies with co-defendants Daniel Chase, George Laloudakis, Antowan Bell, Evangelos Tsoukatos and others. Mamalis recruited Chase and others to rob Constantine Frank, the owner of Precision Vending located on S. Lakewood Avenue in Baltimore. Mamalis knew the owner socially and from prior business dealings, and he was familiar with the physical layout and security at Precision Vending from previous visits with Mr. Frank. On July 29, 2009, after Mamalis advised his co-conspirators that Mr. Frank was alone inside, Chase and another robber entered the business disguised as package delivery men. Chase took out a gun from a false package they had brought inside, brandished the weapon and then gave it to the other robber who used the gun to hold Mr. Frank captive. The two robbers also used zip-ties and duct tape to restrain the victim while Chase searched the business for cash, stealing over $11,000. Knowing that Mr. Frank would recognize him, Mamalis waited outside the building and received periodic reports from Chase using prepaid wireless phones which Mamalis and a co-conspirator had previously purchased.
The robbers left Mr. Frank bound, knowing that he was sweating profusely and in obvious discomfort. Shortly after leaving, Chase called one of Mr. Frank’s other businesses and said: “Your boss is in his office, and he is not doing so good.” Mr. Frank had suffered a stroke by the time officers found him conscious, but still in physical restraints and unable to speak. Mr. Frank was listed in critical condition when he arrived at the hospital and died less than two weeks later on August 11, 2009. The autopsy concluded that the cause of death was an intra-cerebral hemorrhage associated with stress resulting from the robbery and ruled the death a homicide.
After the robbery, Mamalis, Chase and Laloudakis planned the robbery of the owner of a pharmacy in Havre de Grace, Maryland, whom Mamalis also knew. The conspirators monitored the store owner’s residence, believing that the owner kept some of the profits of his business at his home.
On September 2, 2009, Chase and Laloudakis drove up to the security gate of the neighborhood where the pharmacy owner resided. Chase called the owner from the gate’s security phone, pretended to be a police investigator and thereby gained access to the neighborhood. Once inside the home, and after the store owner’s wife joined them at Chase’s request, Chase opened a briefcase and took out a gun. Pointing the weapon at the couple, Chase ordered them to lie on the floor. Laloudakis then entered the residence wearing a black ski mask. At some point during the robbery, three women who provided maid services for the residence arrived and they too were ordered to the ground and restrained. The owner’s wife was forced to accompany Laloudakis to a bedroom closet to open the safe from which the robbers took cash and jewelry.
Next, Mamalis and his co-conspirators planned to rob the owner of a restaurant on North Point Boulevard in Baltimore. Again, Mamalis knew the owner from prior business dealings and had suddenly started coming to the restaurant regularly in the weeks before the robbery. Believing that the owner kept some of the business profits at his home, Mamalis and his co-conspirators on at least two occasions followed the owner as he left his restaurant and drove to his residence. Because of a disagreement between Mamalis and Laloudakis, Mamalis recruited Antowan Bell to participate in this robbery.
On September 29, 2009, at Mamalis’ direction, Tsoukatos drove to the restaurant and called Mamalis to advise him that the owner had left for the day. Chase and Bell drove to the restaurant owner’s home, whereupon Chase falsely identified himself as an investigator with the Baltimore County State’s Attorney’s office, displaying a fake badge he had created. Once inside, Chase took out a gun from a briefcase, pointed it at the owner and handcuffed the victim to a kitchen chair. Bell then entered the home, and the robbers demanded to know the location of the owner’s safe. The victim replied that he had no safe, but that money from his restaurant was in a drawer in the kitchen. Chase stole approximately $10,000 from the drawer. The robbers rummaged through the rest of the home and eventually discovered a safe in the basement. Chase forced the victim to provide the safe’s combination by threatening to cut off the victim’s finger. The robbers took approximately $140,000 from the safe, which included profits from the restaurant, and left the owner tied up in his basement. That night, as they had after the two prior robberies, Mamalis and his co-conspirators met in Atlantic City, New Jersey, where they divided the robbery proceeds.
Beginning on November 6, 2009, Chase and Mamalis were overheard on their cell phones discussing their intention to commit a robbery in Atlantic City, New Jersey. During those calls, Mamalis and Chase also discussed watching other homes in anticipation of robbing them, gathering personal information and using disguises to gain entry to the residences, and the net worth of future targets. During several phone calls, Chase and Mamalis discussed killing Laloudakis and the possibility of traveling to Greece to do this. They also referred to the proceeds from the prior robbery of the pharmacy owner and indicated that they did not intend to distribute an additional $5,000 of those proceeds to Laloudakis.
On November 8, 2009, Mamalis and Bell drove to Atlantic City where they met Chase at a café to plan a robbery. The three were arrested as they left the café. Investigators searched Chase’s car and seized a brief case that contained mace, rope, rubber gloves, three sets of handcuffs, three empty money bags, a knife, tape, and a fake badge purporting to be identification for “John Peters” of the “Office of the Attorney General, Major Crimes Division” for the State of New Jersey, bearing a photograph of Chase.
Mamalis was convicted of all seven counts, including, conspiracy, three counts of commercial robbery, and three corresponding firearms charges, and faces a mandatory minimum sentence of 57 years in prison and a maximum of life in prison. U.S. District Judge Benson E. Legg has scheduled sentencing for May 10, 2011 at 10:00 a.m.
Daniel Chase, age 65, of Browns Mill, New Jersey; George Laloudakis, age 49, of Baltimore; Antowan Bell, age 25, of Rosedale, Maryland; and Evangelos Tsoukatos, age 48, of Glen Burnie, Maryland, previously pleaded guilty to their participation in the robberies. Their sentencings are forthcoming.