Prosecutors: Giannis left town after told of warrant

April 2, 2010 2:56:09 PM PDT
The owner of the Boston Blackies restaurant chain will remain in custody on a $2 million bond.

On Friday, a judge refused to reduce the bond for Nick Giannis. He and his son are charged in a check-kiting scheme that prosecutors say defrauded two banks out of nearly $2 million.

Cook County state's attorneys revealed Friday that Giannis left Chicago after being told by police there was a warrant for his arrest on theft charges. That undisputed fact is the biggest reason Giannis' $2 million bond was not lowered.

Prosecutors say that on March 10th, police informed the 62-year-old restaurant owner that he had three hours to turn himself to Chicago police. Instead, Giannis packed two suitcases, took cash-- in Euros and dollars-- and two passports--U.S. and Greek-- and fled before being arrested the next day at the U.S./Canadian border, prosecutors told Judge Jackie Portman. His lawyer Thomas Durkin said Giannis was drinking when the cops called and panicked.

"He made a stupid mistake, he got drunk and he took off," said Durkin.

Giannis owns nine bankrupt Boston Blackies restaurants. He, his son Chris Giannis, and restaurant manager Andy Bakopoulos, are charged in a $1.8 million check kiting scheme.

While trying to get his $2 million cash bond reduced, his four attorneys argued the problem is really a civil dispute over how much overdraft protection Boston Blackies was allowed by the banks.

"They decided to stop paying when the economy started to tank. And then all of a sudden they filed a civil suit and then the next thing you know the state's attorney of Cook County is now playing collection lawyer," said Durkin.

Giannis has contributed $119,000 to the campaigns of democratic U.S. Senate candidate Alexi Giannoulias, who has since donated an equal amount to charities. In open court, Durkin speculated the state's attorney's charge is political and possibly aimed at embarrassing Giannoulias.

"When elected officials start doing things that they don't normally do they usually have a reason other than what they claim they're doing. That's all I want to comment. I don't think its fair to Mr. Giannoulias or his family or anyone else," said Durkin.

A spokeswoman for democratic Cook County State's Attorney Anita Alvarez called the Durkin charge-- which echoes a theory that some Democrats want Giannoulias to resign his candidacy-- absurd.