BY JULIE MANGANIS
---- — BEVERLY — A Beverly businessman was sentenced yesterday to a year of probation, after he was found guilty of hindering police trying to solve the theft of $50,000 worth of jewelry, silver and coins from a Hamilton home.
Salem District Court Judge Robert Brennan also ordered George Maroskos to pay $10,000 in restitution to the victim.
That amount will never fully compensate the 77-year-old Hamilton woman, who lost not only her own wedding silver but heirlooms that have been in her family since the 1700s, prosecutor Patrick Collins said.
“These items were irreplaceable,” Collins said. “Mr. Maroskos made the decision on his own to send those items out (to a refiner) quickly, before they could be recovered by police. It’s a reasonable inference that he knew the police would be looking for them.”
“His actions, it seems to me, present an opportunity for people to break into homes and sell their property,” said the judge, who presided over Maroskos’ trial on a witness intimidation charge on Feb. 14. “He failed to follow the ordinances because he wanted the money. I have very little doubt based on his behavior that he knew there was something off.”
Maroskos was the owner of JGM Numismatics on Cabot Street, a coin shop that also had a secondhand dealer’s license to purchase valuables, similar to a pawn shop.
Under a city of Beverly ordinance, Maroskos was required to report all of his purchases to the Police Department, along with photos and information about the sellers, which could be emailed on a daily basis. He was also required to hold the items for 30 days.
But five transactions with one woman, who was paid more than $8,000 over the course of a month, went unreported, police said. He had also failed to keep the items for a full 30 days — had he done so, police said, they would have recovered most of the stolen items.
As a result of those violations and a series of prior incidents for which he was not criminally charged, the city revoked his secondhand dealer’s license last year.
According to police reports, Gina Masella, 29, had been staying with her boyfriend, Michael DeFort, and their young child in the victim’s Linden Street home. DeFort was the son of a friend of the victim and was down on his luck, so the woman had taken them in.
But in late January 2012, the woman noticed that she was missing many valuables, including a $20,000 diamond ring, a Rolex watch and other jewelry, along with coins, silverware she’d received as a young bride, and the family heirlooms, antique serving pieces that had been passed down through generations, according to police reports.
Masella is now facing trial this spring on charges that she sold some of the items in Beverly; other items were sold to a gold-buying kiosk in Peabody.
Hamilton police discovered transaction sheets among the items Masella and DeFort had left behind before leaving the state, and Sgt. Stephen Trepanier followed up with Maroskos, who confirmed five transactions with Masella.
But over the next few days, as Trepanier and Beverly Detective Sgt. Jeff Liacos tried to speak to Maroskos about the missing items, he was less than forthcoming, according to police reports. He suggested that it was a mix-up, then told officers that the items were in Attleboro, but refused to answer questions about specifically where they had been sent so that police could try to recover them.
It was only after one of his employees agreed to speak to the investigators that they confirmed that Maroskos had ordered him not to document and report the transactions and to immediately toss the silver into a bucket of other metal items to be sent to a refinery.
Just 18 pieces, worth abut $400, were recovered.
Maroskos, meanwhile, accused police of trying to “nail me to a cross” and complained that he had employees to pay. In an affidavit by Maroskos filed last year, he complained that the city’s ordinance was too onerous compared with other communities.
Yesterday, he protested the amount of restitution the prosecutor was seeking, accusing the victim of seeking to profit.
His attorney, Kirk Bransfield, who has filed an appeal in the case, had argued for a lower restitution amount, no more than $7,500. He said Maroskos paid Masella the cash value of the silver, minus a 10 percent fee for himself and another 3 percent for the refiner.
He also pointed out that Maroskos, a former teacher who got into the coin business because of a longtime hobby, has no prior criminal record.
But Brennan, while acknowledging the dispute over the value of the silver, said $10,000 was not an unreasonable sum.
The judge did grant a request to allow Maroskos’ probation to end early once he pays the full amount.
Beverly police said last year that Maroskos had been involved in other troubling transactions, including failing to report the purchase of 45 silver bars that had been stolen in Salem in 2011 and purchasing 14 gold Krugerrand coins stolen from Danvers in 2009. In 2008, he denied knowing anything about a $100,000 diamond ring stolen in Gloucester, but later, after the thief confessed, Maroskos helped retrieve the ring in exchange for not facing charges, according to police.