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Two Men Sentenced For Part in Armored Car Heist

May 13, 1985 GMT

NEW YORK (AP) _ Two men who prosecutors say may have squirreled away millions of dollars stolen from a Bronx armored car company in 1982 were given lengthy prison sentences Monday.

U.S. District Judge Edward Weinfeld sentenced Nicholas Gregory, of New York, to 18 years in prison and fined him $35,000, calling him a ″professional criminal″ who lent vital expertise to the heist at the Sentry Armored Courier Corp. The FBI says more than $11 million - some $4 million in checks and food stamps and the rest in cash - was taken in that robbery.

Weinfeld sentenced Gerassimos ″Captain Mike″ Vinieris, a Hackensack, N.J., businessman convicted of helping to hide some of the loot, to 15 years and fined him $30,000.

The judge criticized both defendants for maintaining a ″stony silence″ on the location of the stolen money. Only about $1.5 million has been recovered.

Local authorities have speculated that the robbery netted less than $11 million and that some of the money reported stolen was actually embezzled before the robbery. But two indictments based on that theory were thrown out in court, and federal sources said the FBI has concluded that no funds were embezzled.

Gregory and Vinieris were convicted on March 7. A third defendant was acquitted of playing a minor role in hiding the Sentry loot.

Three other men were convicted in a December 1983 trial, including Sentry guard Christos Potamitis, 25.

According to prosecutors, the Sentry theft was an ″inside job″ that Potamiti planned with friends and associates.

On a weekend in which millions of dollars of supermarket receipts were in storage at Sentry awaiting transportation to banks on Monday, Potamitis allegedly let in his associates, who cut a hole in the roof and handcuffed the guard to a railing to make it appear that he had been overpowered.

Prosecutors said Gregory helped plan the theft and disable Sentry’s security system. They said Vinieris did not participate in the actual robbery, but picked up two trunkloads of money that was Potamitis’ and another associate’s share of the loot. He allegedly kept the money for himself.

The judge also rejected explanations by Vinieris that a profitable rice deal accounted for some $550,000 in bank deposits he made after the robbery and for the $169,000 in cash authorities found in his apartment.