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Restaurateur asks to avoid prison in fireworks case

Updated: September 6, 2014 6:28AM



A local restaurateur is asking to avoid prison time for illegally selling 16,000 pounds of fireworks.

In a sentencing memorandum filed Monday in the U.S. District Court in Hammond, James Gerodemos, 50, argues he should instead be sentenced to a term of probation that includes home confinement.

Gerodemos, who along with other family members owns and is connected to various restaurants in Lake County such as Gino’s Steakhouse and the Paragon restaurant in Hobart, pleaded guilty earlier this year to one count of dealing explosive material without a license, a charge that comes with up to 10 years in prison.

The memorandum says that federal agents seized the explosives, valued at $129,330, when they searched his fireworks stand on June 26, 2013.

The memorandum said that the suggested federal sentencing guideline range calls for Gerodemos to serve some prison time, although it doesn’t say how much.

However, his attorney, Paul Stracci, argues that Gerodemos should instead serve probation, noting that his client has never been arrested and has a long work history dating back to when he was 13.

His family also relies on him, including his autistic son and his widowed sister and her children. Stracci claims that Gerodemos plays a large role in not only helping with his son’s therapy but also in paying for it as he is the sole financial provider for his family, which the filing claims are “extraordinary family circumstances.”

Along with the memorandum, Gerodemos also included letters of support from 23 people, mostly family and friends who speak of how he has helped them and his community.

“I lost the father of my four children 21 years ago, and my brother was always there for them and still is,” his sister Angelina Doukas wrote. “He was like a father to my children … at the time, and he showed me strength and taught me how strong you have to be to survive in this world.”

Gerodemos’ sentencing is set for Aug. 12.



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