Police are accusing a Beverly pawn shop owner of accepting and then selling thousands of dollars' worth of jewelry, heirloom silver and coins, including a $100,000 diamond ring, that turned out to be stolen from homes in Hamilton and Gloucester.
And George Maroskos, the owner of JGM Numismatics Investments at 284 Cabot St., failed to report the transactions when they occurred and then misled a detective who was investigating the matter, denying he accepted some of the items, police said.
In a letter to the City Council, police Chief Mark Ray said Maroskos has been criminally charged with misleading a police investigation. Ray also asked councilors to revoke Maroskos' secondhand dealer's license.
Maroskos, 62, of Lynn, pleaded not guilty during a brief hearing yesterday in Salem District Court, where he was ordered by a judge to have no contact with the victim in the Hamilton case, a 77-year-old woman.
"On several occasions, the Beverly Police Department has determined that Mr. Maroskos conducted business in a manner which has aided criminal activity, misled police investigators and prevented crime victims from recovering valuable property stolen from them," Ray wrote.
Maroskos did not return a call to his shop seeking comment.
His attorney, Kirk Bransfield, said he had only just been hired by Maroskos and was still researching the case, but he questioned whether the law under which his client was charged applies in a case in which he allegedly failed to comply with a city ordinance.
In his letter to the City Council, Ray said Maroskos failed to cooperate with police in a recent investigation into the theft of several thousand dollars' worth of precious metals and stones from a Hamilton home. Ray said the thief sold many of the stolen items to Maroskos in five transactions over a three-week period.
According to court papers, the shop paid a young woman and her boyfriend nearly $7,900 over that period for items that included a Rolex watch, a silver tea service and silverware.
During that time, Maroskos failed to obey city ordinances that require secondhand dealers to document each transaction, obtain photo identification from the seller, photograph the valuables, hold the items for at least 30 days, and notify police of the transactions, Ray said.
Instead, all but a few spoons and a pie server ended up being sold or sent to a metal refiner, police said.
Police said an employee told them that Maroskos told him not to photograph the jewelry and to throw the items in a bucket to be shipped out to the refiner.
Questioned by police, Maroskos became "contentious and theatrical," suggesting that the officer "just take out your gun and shoot me," according to a police report.
The rules are intended to discourage the selling of stolen items and to protect victims of crime, Ray said.
"No community has the resources to oversee every transaction of such a business," Ray wrote. "Businesses licensed to buy and sell valuable metals and precious stones must cooperate 100 percent of the time."
In the Hamilton case, Maroskos' failure to follow the law "led to the destruction of evidence in a criminal investigation and has also suffered the victim a total loss of her heirloom property," according to the official report.
Ray also faulted Maroskos in several other cases over the years.
In 2011, Maroskos purchased a number of 45 sterling silver bars that had been stolen in Salem. Maroskos failed to report the transaction to Beverly police, and investigators were unable to recover the stolen items, Ray said.
In 2009, Maroskos bought 14 1-ounce gold Krugerrands — South African coins — that had been stolen in Danvers, never reported the transactions and disposed of the gold prior to the 30-day hold requirement, Ray said.
In 2008, Maroskos denied any knowledge of a 7.5-carat diamond ring valued at approximately $100,000 that had been stolen in Gloucester. The thief later confessed to bringing the ring to the shop and negotiating with Maroskos.
Ray said Maroskos arranged for the ring to be brokered to a third party. The diamond was later returned to the victims, but only after the district attorney agreed not to prosecute Maroskos or the third-party broker.
According to its website, JGM is a "full-service coin and bullion company established in 1971." The owner, listed only as George, has been a "childhood collector since 1959" and is "one of the premier coin experts in New England."
Maroskos is due back in Salem District Court on the criminal charge, which carries up to a 10-year prison term, on March 27.