HACKENSACK, N.J. – Bail has been set at $3 million for a New York City bar owner accused of fatally shooting two friends found slain in northern New Jersey.
Bergen County Prosecutor John Molinelli says Nicholas D. Kiriakakis, 25, of Richmond Hills faces two counts of murder and weapons offenses in connection with the deaths of 28-year-old Jonathan Beneduce of Howard Beach and 27-year-old Michael Mirasola of Ozone Park.
Their bodies were discovered Thursday morning in a sport utility vehicle parked on a residential street in Teaneck. Both men suffered multiple gunshot wounds.
Kiriakakis, who also was charged with possession of drugs without a prescription, was arrested in Queens on Saturday and will likely be extradited to New Jersey within the next few days.
Molinelli said the two victims were "good friends" and acquaintances of Kiriakakis. The three apparently came to New Jersey late Wednesday to make a drug deal, but it's unclear whether that transaction took place because investigators found no drugs on either victim or inside the SUV.
"We believe this is tied to a drug transaction," Molinelli said. "Whether that drug transaction happened on Wednesday night or before, we are not sure."
The shooting occurred shortly after Kiriakakis, part-owner and manager of the Pearl Nightlife bar in Queens, met with the victims in New York on Wednesday night. They then headed for New Jersey sometime after 7:30 p.m., with Kiriakakis driving alone and Beneduce and Mirasola traveling in a 2007 Ford Explorer, Molinelli said.
A Teaneck resident found the victims' bullet-riddled bodies around 7 a.m Thursday. Although it's not clear when the shootings occurred, a neighborhood resident said she heard noises that "sounded like firecrackers" around 11 p.m. Wednesday.
Molinelli said Kiriakakis "was familiar" with Teaneck, but the decision to stop on a street there appears to have been done at random.
Investigators were able to quickly gather intelligence that placed all three men together on Wednesday night, Molinelli said, and his office filed a fugitive warrant for Kiriakakis late Friday night.
New York City police then searched Kiriakakis' bar, home and vehicle and found two simulated handguns, a stun gun and illegally obtained prescription drugs. Authorities would not say whether the murder weapon had been discovered.