BY JULIE MANGANIS
---- — BEVERLY — A Beverly businessman ordered last month to pay restitution to an elderly woman after he purchased precious heirlooms stolen from her home is appealing his conviction on charges that he hindered police investigating the crime.
But that wasn’t enough to persuade a Salem District Court judge yesterday to delay George Maroskos’ punishment.
Maroskos is the owner of JGM Numismatics, a Beverly coin shop and metals dealer, who last year had his secondhand dealer license revoked by the city for failing to report transactions, including some transactions involving stolen items.
Maroskos, 62, of Lynn, was found guilty in February of one count of witness intimidation, under a section of that statute that covers misleading police. Last month, he was sentenced to a year of probation and ordered to pay $10,000 in restitution to a 77-year-old Hamilton woman.
Police said, and a judge later found, that Maroskos had stalled police investigators looking into the Hamilton thefts by refusing to tell them where he’d sent the stolen silver, including pieces from the 1700s. By the time police learned, from one of Maroskos’ employees, where the silver had been sent, it was already melted down.
Yesterday, his new attorney, Boston lawyer Michael Traft, argued that there are “meritorious issues” in the case that would justify a stay of Maroskos’ sentence.
Among them: an argument that the statute violates Maroskos’ Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination.
Traft argued that the law would have required Maroskos to answer questions that could implicate him in criminal activity.
Traft also questioned whether Maroskos’ failure to answer the officers’ questions actually damaged the case against the alleged thief.
“Did he really impede the investigation?” Traft asked. “Mr. Maroskos did provide evidence that provided for a resolution in that (theft) case.”
Traft also said it would be unfair to Maroskos to make him pay the restitution now, before his appeal, because if he prevails in the higher court, he’d have to then work to get his money back from the victim.
Prosecutor Patrick Collins disagreed with Traft’s assessment.
“I think all of these issues were vetted with counsel during and after the trial,” Collins said, referring to Maroskos’ prior lawyer.
“I think it would be unfair to the victim to change course at this point,” Collins said.
Judge Robert Brennan said that he did not see the same odds of success on appeal that Traft argued and called the restitution “appropriate and reasonable.”
He denied the request for a stay.
Courts reporter Julie Manganis can be reached at 978-338-2521, via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @SNJulieManganis.