Police: Pizzeria owner hid mice in rivals' shops

Nicholas Galiatsatos

March 1, 2011 6:26:14 PM PST
Police say the owner of Pennsylvania pizzeria was caught stashing live mice in two rival pizza shops down the street.

"It's insane, it's crazy, I never heard of anything like that, I never witnessed anything like that," Fanis Facas, the owner of Verona Pizza on West Chester Pike in Upper Darby, said reacting to the events of the day.

Facas tells KTRK's sister television station, WPVI-TV in Philadelphia, it was around 2pm when a man entered the shop carrying a bag.

The man asked to use the bathroom.

"He goes to the bathroom and I heard a noise going on in the bathroom, I thought it was just him banging around or something, so I checked after he had gone out of the bathroom," Facas said.

Once Facas entered the bathroom, he noticed footprints on the toilet seat.

Facas then looked up at the drop ceiling and noticed it had been tampered with. He reached in and found the bag the man was carrying.

Inside the bag were live mice.

Facas says he alerted two officers who were eating lunch at the time at his shop.

The officers then noticed the suspect is now across the street getting ready to go into Uncle Nick's carrying another bag. He sees police coming after him and runs inside.

Inside Nick's Pizza shop, police found another bag of live mice thrown into a trashcan and they promptly arrested the man.

The suspect has been identified as 47-year-old Nicholas Galiatsatos, the owner of Bella's Pizza shop a few blocks away.

"This is outrageous, how could anyone do this? This is how I feed my kids," Harry Saritsogleu, owner of Uncle Nick's Pizza, said.

Pizza shops seem to be a dime a dozen in this neighborhood and apparently Bella's on West Chester Pike, which came under new ownership a few months ago, wasn't doing too well.

"He can't get started over there, apparently he's having a problem getting started, so I guess that's his way of putting the other guys out of business," Upper Darby Police Superintendent Michael Chitwood said.

Chitwood says not only was business not going well for Bella's, but Galiatsatos told police he had a mice problem and he believed his rivals at nearby Uncle Nick's Pizza and Verona Pizza were to blame.

Police say there is no evidence that the owners of Verona and Uncle Nick's had anything to do with Bella's mice problem.

Galiatsatos is charged with criminal mischief, disorderly conduct, harassment, and cruelty to animals.

Saritsogleu, meanwhile, is still trying to make sense of it all.

"I don't know, I had a guy come up to me and say, 'Oh, it's the times.' Times? What are you kidding me?" Saritsogleu said.

For his part, Chitwood's never seen anything like this.

"I've never had to deal with mice as an instrument of criminality. And certainly I've never had to deal with pizza and mice at the same time," Chitwood said.

As for the mice, police say Galiatsatos purchased them at a pet shop earlier in the day.