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Greek Deli Owner Found Guilty on All Charges in Killing of Worker

BALLSTON SPA, NY – A New York man told a jury June 4 that he spent two nights trying to cover up the 2019 killing of a woman he beat to death with a baseball bat and sledgehammer at an upstate deli where she had been an employee.

James Duffy, who pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in a plea deal, said Greek immigrant deli owner George Kakavelos paid him $800 to kill Allyzibeth Lamont because the 22-year-old had complained to the state Department of Labor about his practice of paying employees off the books.

On June 17, Kakavelos was found guilty of all 11 charges related to the killing of Lamont, CBS 6 News WRGB Albany reported.

The Daily Gazette reported that Duffy testified for more than four hours on June 4 at Saratoga County Court about their efforts to conceal Lamont's death, including burying her in a shallow grave in the town of Malta, 30 miles (50 kilometers) east of Johnstown.

Duffy is to be sentenced to 18 years to life in prison in exchange for testifying against Kakavelos, the newspaper reported.

Kakavelos' defense attorney, Kevin O'Brien, called the state's case a "disaster," adding Lamont's death was a "heinous crime that was orchestrated and done solely by James Duffy."

"The government has bought what this drunk, self-serving crackhead has sold them to get a better deal for himself," O'Brien told The Associated Press. "Now the prosecutors will have to watch as I destroy Duffy and the government's case in front of the jury."

The jury, however, was not convinced by O’Brien’s argument that Duffy was solely responsible.

Lamont went missing after an October 2019 shift at the Local No. 9 deli in Johnstown and was found three days later. An autopsy found she died of multiple blows to the head.

Duffy, 35, recalled cutting off the woman's clothing before placing fertilizer, concrete, cement pavers and dirt over her. He and Kakavelos then put leaves, grass and branches over the grave, he said.

"I asked him to help me – he was really hesitant," Duffy testified. "Said he didn't want to see her face, it would haunt him."

Duffy, who managed the deli, told a Saratoga County jury that Kakavelos, 52, had been a role model to him and "always taken care of me," and added that Kakavelos organized Lamont's killing.

Kakavelos had pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder and now “faces the possibility of life in prison without parole,” the Albany Times Union reported.

The 11-count indictment “also charged Kakavelos with second-degree murder, which carries a maximum of 25 years to life in prison; second-degree conspiracy; three counts of concealment of a human corpse, and five counts of tampering with physical evidence,” the Times Union reported, adding that the trial, “included around 68 witnesses and 650 pieces of evidence.”

“Prosecutor Alan Poremba, first assistant to District Attorney Karen Heggen, told jurors in his closing argument Monday [June 14] that Kakavelos marked Lamont for death because the Gloversville woman filed a state labor complaint against him about his admitted practices of paying employees under the table,” the Times Union reported, noting that “Poremba said the defendant, who kept no financial records of his business, had already received two letters from an investigator from the state Department of Labor.”

Poremba said that “Kakavelos, a Greek immigrant who previously owned the Saratoga Diner in Saratoga Springs and Travers Diner in Gloversville, owed the state more than $70,000 and the Internal Revenue Service more than $120,000,” the Times Union reported, adding that “the labor complaint, the prosecutor said, could have led to tax fraud charges for the defendant.”

Poremba said that “Kakavelos blamed Lamont, who was threatening to criticize him as a horrible boss on social media, for his financial woes,” the Times Union reported, adding that “he said Kakavelos believed Lamont was a ‘traitor’ and ‘ringleader’ of young female employees revolting against him – and that, all together, it led him to murder.”

Kakavelos testified last week and briefly on June 14, denying “any part of the crime,” the Times Union reported, noting that “Kakavelos, a married father of four children, emotionally told jurors he walked in on Duffy hovering over Lamont's naked and blooded body, horrified by what he witnessed.”

Kakavelos said that “Duffy forced him to help clean up the murder scene and move Lamont's body or be murdered along with his family,” the Times Union reported, adding that he said “Duffy told him to get cleaning supplies at a Walmart and be back in 15 minutes or he would ‘kill another.’”

Poremba then “confronted the defendant with surveillance video that showed him casually and calmly buying a magazine and an Almond Joy candy bar at the Walmart when he said he was in distress,” the Times Union reported.

Kakavelos’ sentencing is scheduled for August 19, WRGB reported.

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