A federal jury convicted on Thursday the mastermind of a series of brazen robberies that netted more than $300,000 and left a Southeast Baltimore business owner zip-tied and duct-taped to a chair, the Maryland U.S. attorney's office said.
Nikolaos Mamalis, 53, of Edgewood could receive at least 57 years in federal prison and up to life when he is sentenced in U.S. District Court in Baltimore in May. Four other conspirators pleaded guilty in the case and are to be sentenced over the next three months.
The guilty finding after a seven-day trial followed a violent crime binge that led investigators from a city warehouse to a hotel in Atlantic City, N.J. The 54-year-old Southeast Baltimore vending machine owner, Constantine "Dino" Frank, died shortly after the robbery at his shop.
Federal prosecutors said Mamalis knew Frank and other victims and used his knowledge of their shops and homes — and the money they stored there — to plan the attacks. Police arrested the five after learning through a wiretap that they planned to commit a home invasion in New Jersey.
Frank, who owned Precision Vending in Canton and pool halls in Parkville and Dundalk, was found July 29, 2009, bound by zip ties inside the Canton shop. Police said at least $10,000 was missing.
Prosecutors said Mamalis knew Frank socially and from previous business dealings, and recruited the others to plan and carry out the robbery. Once inside, they held Frank captive at gunpoint, bound him and then left, knowing, prosecutors said, "that he was sweating profusely and in obvious discomfort."
One of the suspects called one of Frank's business partners and told him, "Your boss is in his office and is not doing too good." Prosecutors said Frank suffered a stroke and was conscious but unable to speak when police found him. He died at a hospital two weeks later, and his death was ruled a homicide.
Prosecutors said that after the Canton robbery, Frank and the others robbed the owner of a pharmacy in Havre de Grace whom Mamalis also knew. On Sept. 2, 2009, two of the conspirators gained access to the victim's gated community by pretending to be law enforcement officers.
Once inside, they took out a gun from a briefcase, pointed it at the business owner and his wife, and ordered them to lie on the floor. Three women who worked for a private maid service came in during the robbery and were restrained, prosecutors said. Cash and jewelry were taken.
Prosecutors said that on Sept. 29, Mamalis and others in the group robbed the owner of a restaurant on North Point Boulevard in Baltimore County. Authorities said they again attacked the man in his home, again gaining entry by pretending to be law enforcement.
They handcuffed the owner to a chair and took $140,000 from a safe. Prosecutors said the owner gave up the combination after one of the robbers threatened to cut off his fingers.
Mamalis was convicted of seven counts, including conspiracy, firearms and robbery counts.