BALLSTON SPA, N.Y. — A former upstate New York sub shop owner has been found guilty of bludgeoning to death a young worker in 2019 over back wages he owed her.
Georgios Kakavelos, 52, of Ballston Spa, was convicted Thursday of 11 criminal charges, including the first-degree murder of Allyzibeth Ann LaMont. The 22-year-old Gloversville woman was slain Oct. 28, 2019, inside Local Substation No. 9, the small Johnstown sandwich shop owned by Kakavelos and his wife.
LaMont’s body was found three days later, buried in a shallow grave 35 miles away, off Interstate 87 in Malta.
Kakavelos was also convicted of second-degree conspiracy, tampering with physical evidence and concealment of a human corpse, according to the Times Union in Albany. He faces a sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole.
The Greek immigrant’s co-conspirator, employee James Duffy, pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in April. Duffy, 35, of Johnstown faces a sentence of 18 years to life in the case.
Duffy worked as a manager at the sub shop.
“You have a 22-year-old woman who had so much potential and so much life in front of her,” prosecutor Alan Poremba told the newspaper on Thursday. “This is as heinous a crime as we’ve seen around here.”
Duffy was a key witness against Kakavelos during the six-week trial. In his testimony, Duffy told jurors that his former boss wanted LaMont dead because she planned to file a complaint with the labor board about Kakavelos’ shady business practices.
Kakavelos paid Duffy to beat LaMont to death, the younger man testified.
The Times Union reported that Duffy described how he and Kakavelos ambushed LaMont the night of the murder as she washed dishes in the back area of the restaurant. Duffy said he used an aluminum baseball bat to strike LaMont four times in the head.
Kakavelos then put a trash bag over the young woman’s head and “finished her off” by hitting her with a small sledgehammer, the newspaper said.
Prosecutors argued at trial that LaMont’s complaints about her boss came at a time when Kakavelos, who was almost $200,000 in debt to the state and the Internal Revenue Service, was planning to move his business to Saratoga Springs. Her complaints included the struggling businessman’s habit of paying employees off the books, the Times Union reported.
Along with a labor complaint, LaMont reportedly planned to take her concerns to Kakavelos’ wife, whose name was on the failing business. She also planned to take the issue to social media, where complaints or bad reviews can make or break a business.
Duffy testified that Kakavelos considered LaMont a “traitor” who was leading several of his young female workers against him, according to the paper.
About an hour after the pair killed LaMont, Kakavelos went to a nearby Walmart and bought duct tape, plastic sheeting, towels, bleach, soap and detergent, court records indicated.
Documents previously obtained by the Daily Gazette in Schenectady stated that Duffy and Kakavelos placed LaMont’s body in the business owner’s 2008 Volkswagen Passat and drove around for hours looking for a place to dispose of her. Duffy testified that they had planned to take her to a dump, but it would have meant carrying LaMont’s lifeless body over a guardrail and navigating treacherous ground.
“I said it was too difficult to maneuver the body down there into a hidden location without compromising the vehicle or our position,” Duffy said, according to the Times Union.
Around midnight, they ended up on the Exit 13 on-ramp to I-87. Kakavelos determined it would be a good location because developers would not build there and stumble upon the remains.
When they were sure there was no traffic, the men pulled over and propped open the hood of Kakavelos’ car to make any sudden passersby think they were having engine trouble. They dumped LaMont’s body in the wooded area beside the road and left.
Duffy said he and his boss returned to the sandwich shop, where Duffy cut the hoses on the shop’s drink syrup machine. He testified that it would give the men a viable excuse if they were seen deep cleaning the shop the next day.
Both men went home for the night.
The following day, they began using the supplies Kakavelos had bought at Walmart to clean evidence of the fatal beating from the sub shop. That night, they returned to where LaMont’s body was hidden to “tie up loose ends,” Duffy testified.
According to the Times Union, Duffy said he dug a hole up to his waist.
“(I) just picked an area where it was wet, but not too wet, where I could dig,” he testified. “Where we could find it but it wouldn’t be noticeable to somebody else just walking by.”
Duffy said Kakavelos would not help him dig. He said his shoulder hurt and that he’d misplaced his glasses.
Ultimately, the older man refused to dig because he didn’t want to face what he’d done, Duffy said.
“He said he didn’t want to see her face. It’s going to haunt him,” Duffy testified, according to the Times Union.
Both men were arrested within days of LaMont being reported missing.
Kakavelos’ defense attorney, Kevin O’Brien, argued that Duffy had acted alone when he killed LaMont and that his client had stumbled upon the murder as it was being committed. Kakavelos, who testified in his own defense, claimed he did not help Duffy at all, but alternately accused Duffy of forcing him to help clean up the crime scene.
He stated that Duffy threatened to kill him and his family if he did not help.
Kakavelos also alleged that his former employee had forced him to go to Walmart for the cleaning supplies, threatening to kill another person if he was not back in 15 minutes.
On cross-examination, Poremba pointed out that security footage from the store showed Kakavelos casually perusing the shelves at Walmart, buying a candy bar and a car magazine while he was allegedly terrified for his life.
According to the Times Union, jurors requested several items during deliberations — including the images of Kakavelos chewing on an Almond Joy as he left the store.
It took the jury less than six hours to return with guilty verdicts on all charges, the newspaper reported.
O’Brien told the paper after the verdict that he believed his client got a fair trial.
“It didn’t go our way, I’m disappointed in that,” the defense lawyer said. “I’m not going to complain. I think the jurors paid attention. They did something that I disagree with, but I’m not mad at them.”
Poremba said LaMont tried to hold her boss accountable as a business owner, and she paid for that effort with her life.
“We teach our children to speak up when something is not right,” Poremba said. “That’s exactly what she did. She spoke up when things weren’t right.
“She just happened to speak up to the wrong individual, and that wrong individual was Georgios Kakavelos, who was willing to commit this heinous, barbaric crime.”
Kakavelos’ sentencing is scheduled for Aug. 19.
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