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Man Cleared In Teaneck Double Murders Faces Resentencing In Drug Deal

Nicholas Kiriakakis
Nicholas Kiriakakis Photo Credit: FILE PHOTO: Mary K. Miraglia

TEANECK, N.J. -- The scion of a Queens diner family who was acquitted two years ago of a double murder but given 13 years in state prison in connection with a major drug buy will be resentenced, under a state appeals court order.

“I want to express the deepest regret,” Nicholas Kiriakakis said during a hearing Monday in Hackensack. “I never realized how my actions could affect so many people.”

Referring to his “excellent education,” he said, “I should have used my degree to help my father expand his business. But my dream was a place of my own.

"Things went pretty well at first, but there were unforeseen problems -- and when they happened, I failed miserably at solving them,” Kiriakakis said.

The Appellate Division overturned his original sentence, saying the judge didn't weigh the circumstances fairly.

Superior Court Judge Liliana DeAvila-Silebi at the time noted that two drug dealers whom Kiriakakis intended to swindle to save his foundering nightclub were killed because of his conspiracy. She also fined Kiriakakis $150,000, the maximum.

DeAvila-Silebi said she was imposing the fine because the money the two victims brought with them to the drug buy in Teaneck -- purported to be $150,000 --disappeared. She implied that Kiriakakis knew more than he was saying and that the fine would prevent him from benefitting.

Jonathan Beneduce and Michael Mirasola, both of Queens, were later found shot execution-style on a cul-de-sac in Teaneck.

Defense attorney Frank Lucianna said the judge gave Kiriakakis “a draconian sentence” -- with no parole eligibility for 6½ years --because “she believed he was guilty of the murders” even though jurors cleared him.

Assistant Bergen County Prosecutor Danielle Grootenboer, in turn, called Kiriakakis “Czar Nicholas.”

He “had everything -- a college education, family support, a loving home," she said, "but he wanted to deal drugs -- and so two young men lost their lives for no good reason.”

Kiriakakis got a harsh sentence "because he deserved it," Grootenboer told Presiding Superior Court Judge Susan J. Steele.

After hearing arguments from both sides, the judge reserved a decision that she said she will issue in writing.

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