Crime - Sacto 911

Man gets over 20 years for felony check fraud

George Demetri Pappadopoulos, whose family has a criminal history in Sacramento County going back two decades, has been sentenced to 20 years and four months in prison for felony check fraud.

Pappadopoulos, 42, pleaded no contest Dec. 9 to 11 felony counts of passing worthless checks. He also admitted to the allegation that he took property exceeding $65,000 in committing the offenses and that he has a prior strike conviction, according to a Sacramento County District Attorney’s Office news release. In sentencing Pappadopoulos on Monday, Sacramento Superior Court Judge Ben Davidian also ordered him to pay restitution.

“You stole from them. You stole a great deal of money from them,” Davidian said from the bench Monday as Pappadopoulos looked on from his courtroom holding cell.

In 2013 and 2014, Pappadopoulos engaged in a lengthy and bold fraudulent check scheme primarily targeting small businesses in Sacramento, according to prosecutors. The fraud resulted in a total theft of $195,345 from 38 victims, some of whom were victimized more than once.

So much money was taken from one of the businesses that it was forced to lay off workers, Davidian said from the bench.

“You’re a thief. You affected each and every one of them,” Davidian said.

Pappadopoulos’ prior 1993 strike conviction involved battery causing serious bodily injury and added years to his fraud sentence.

The first of the 11 fraud counts to which Pappadopoulos pleaded no contest carried a three-year term that because of the prior strike conviction was doubled to six years. Each of the 10 remaining counts carried 8-month terms that became 16-month sentences at the afternoon hearing.

Pappadopoulos’ family came to criminal prominence when his parents conspired in 1992 to burn down their home at 1821 Maple Glen Drive in the Arden Oaks neighborhood for the insurance money.

Constantine and Katherine Pappadopoulos were convicted on arson-related charges in federal court. But Constantine Pappadopoulos, once a prominent developer in the Sacramento area, fled the country for his native Greece before sentencing.

Katherine Pappadopoulos served her term of a little less than eight years. She died in 2008.

Cathy Locke: 916-321-5287, @lockecathy The Bee’s Darrell Smith contributed to this report.