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Clemency gives Niles man another chance to seek office

George Alpogianis owner Kappy's Restaurant Pancake house MortGrove signals busboys how many glasses water he needs table during lunch service

George Alpogianis, owner of Kappy's Restaurant and Pancake house in Morton Grove, signals to the busboys how many glasses of water he needs at the table during the lunch service in this file photo dated June 1, 2010. | Curtis Lehmkuhl~Sun-Times Media

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Updated: October 5, 2012 6:06AM

George Alpogianis was forced to step down just weeks after voters in Niles elected him to the village board there in 2009.

State law bars felons from holding municipal office in Illinois, and Alpogianis had been convicted more than two decades ago of aggravated battery.

But if Alpogianis runs again — and he plans to — his record won’t be an obstacle. He was one of 43 people pardoned this summer by Gov. Pat Quinn.

Alpogianis, 46, is probably best known as a member of the family that owns Kappy’s Restaurant & Pancake House in Morton Grove and the America’s Dog locations in the Loop and Lincoln Park and at Navy Pier and O’Hare Airport.

He had pleaded guilty to misdemeanor criminal damage to property for his role in the pipe-bombing of Wolfy’s restaurant on the North Side on Christmas Day 1983.

While on probation for that crime, Alpogianis and seven other members of the Insane Popes street gang attacked three men outside a party with 30-inch pipes and pieces of wood outfitted with protruding nails, records show.

Again, he was sentenced to probation, this time for 30 months, after pleading guilty to six counts of aggravated battery.

In June 2010, Alpogianis’ lawyer, Thomas Needham, filed a petition for executive clemency that included letters of support from Niles Mayor Robert Callero; three members of the Niles Village Board; Niles Police Chief Dean Strzelecki, and Niles Elementary School District 71 Supt. Amy Kruppe.

“George’s life had a glitch 25 years ago,” Callero wrote. “He has atoned for a past mistake many times over.”

Other letters came from Greek Orthodox clergymen and the Rev. John P. Smyth, the president of Notre Dame High School in Niles and former executive director of Maryville Academy.

Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez argued unsuccessfully against clemency for Alpogianis, praising him for urging children to avoid the mistakes he’d made but adding, “Perhaps the greatest lesson for these youth is that when you commit violent crimes, they can never be erased.”

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