After Kakavelos guilty verdict, coworkers of slain Allyzibeth Lamont speak out

Allyzibeth A. Lamont (inset); Police at the Local No. 9 sandwich shop Oct. 31, 2019
PHOTOGRAPHER:
Allyzibeth A. Lamont (inset); Police at the Local No. 9 sandwich shop Oct. 31, 2019

GLOVERSVILLE — Aimee Faville said her eyes filled with tears of joy when she found out that Georgios Kakavelos was convicted last week of first-degree murder for the 2019 killing of her friend and former coworker Allyzibeth Lamont of Gloversville.

“They took away the life of a 22-year old who had her entire life ahead of her, and one who had all of the energy and life,” said Faville. “She was deprived of having kids, settling down, getting her first car, getting a better job. He deprived her of everything.”

After a six-week trial, a Saratoga County Court jury convicted Kakavelos of conspiring with James A. Duffy, 35, to murder Lamont at the Local No. 9 Smokehouse and Substation sandwich shop in the Adirondack Plaza on Townsend Avenue in Johnstown. Prosecutors say Kakavelos, the owner of the sandwich shop, wanted Lamont dead because she had complained to the state Department of Labor about his business practices, which included paying his employees with cash from the register, or sometimes not paying them at all. “He perceived her as a whistleblower,” the prosecutor said during his closing statement.

Faville worked with Lamont over the summer of 2019 and saw firsthand the work conditions that led up to the murder of her friend. She said the labor abuses were well known to former employees of the shop.

“Half the time we wouldn’t even get paid,” she said, her voice choking back emotion. “We’d have to, like, ask [Kakavelos], and then it was like pulling teeth. Now I have to, you know, sit back, look up in the sky, and just pray that she’s with somebody, you know? She’s not alone.”

Prosecutors say Lamont was working alone in the small kitchen of the sandwich shop on the night of her murder, Oct. 28, 2019. She’d stayed late that night, past her usual knock-off time of 7 p.m., to prepare for the next workday, all at the request of Kakavelos.

At some point, Duffy smashed Lamont’s head with a baseball bat and Kakavelos choked her with a bag over her head, prosecutors said. Duffy then ended her life with a hammer used to prepare kindling for the restaurant’s meat smoker, making a sound he testified was like “branches breaking.”

In April, Duffy pleaded guilty to murdering Lamont as part of a plea deal that reduced his charge from first- to second-degree murder. He faces 18 years to life in prison in exchange for his testimony against Kakavelos. Kakavelos, by contrast, faces a potential sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole.

Lamont’s murder came after a stormy summer at the sandwich shop, during which Lamont and another employee spoke with a Department of Labor investigator who came to the shop, “airing dirty laundry,” according to testimony during the trial. Over time, Kakavelos came to view Lamont as the “ringleader” among the five or six employees who at one time had worked at the shop.

“She’s trying to ruin us, start investigations,’” Duffy recounted his boss saying.

But at the time of her murder, Lamont was a ringleader of none.

In the final months before her death, nearly all of her coworkers had left the troubled business. Several of them tried to get her to quit with them, but Lamont, known by her friends as “Alli,” always said no.

“I wanted to take her with me, but she wanted something stable before she ended up leaving,” said Darlene Stumbrice, who grew up with Lamont in Gloversville. “I feel bad for taking off. I was the last one there with her I think.”

“When she went missing, my first thought — I told everybody — they need to look into George and Jimmy,” Stumbrice said. “I had the feeling they were the ones that did something to her, and in the end, it’s sad to say, but I was right.”

Another former coworker said Lamont served as a de facto manager of the sandwich shop, although she was never given the formal title. When her coworkers encounter difficulties at the job, Lamont encouraged them to leave and move on to better employment elsewhere, she said.

“She told me I was better than that place,” the woman said. “I told her I was going to find a new job, and she told me to take it, take it and run. I told her I wasn’t going to leave unless she came with me. She was always like ‘don’t worry about me.'”

Another former coworker said Lamont possessed a kind, uplifting attitude and was willing to sacrifice for others.

“She made sure I got paid because she knew I have kids at home,” the woman said. “She would tip me out or her tips, before she got paid.”

“My last message to her was telling her that TJ Maxx is hiring, and she was like ‘I just can’t leave right now,'” the woman said.

Friends and former coworkers said Lamont’s lack of transportation was one of the things that kept her stuck at the sandwich shop.

“Every time I would get a new job offer, I would say ‘listen, Alli, there’s a spot open for you’, she’d be like, ‘I don’t have a car. I don’t have a way to get there’, so she wouldn’t take it,” one former colleague said.

Yet another former coworker described Lamont as the kind of person who helped people in need and fought fiercely for those who needed protection.

“I had to sleep on the streets one night, and Alli let me stay at her house instead of letting me go out on the streets,” the woman said. “I was drinking. I could have got into big trouble.”

Another former coworker said Lamont helped her through various difficult times, including a panic attack she experienced before work one day.

“She immediately took me into the bathroom, because that was the only secret place in the building, she just held me and I cried,” she said. “She told me I was good, and I was going to be successful, just kind words always, always.”

One coworker said the sandwich shop’s troubles seemed to heavily involve Duffy, who she said was a kind of manager at the business. He was often drunk or appeared to be on drugs, while he worked there. During the trial, Duffy admitted to using heroin, drinking heavily and using crack cocaine during the course of his employment at the shop.

Duffy’s substance abuse was obvious to everyone who encountered him at the store, including employees and customers, Lamont’s coworkers said.

“He’d drink like a 30-pack a day, in the store, and you know, customers would see where they could put their recyclables, and there would be Bud Light Limes, and we didn’t serve beer,” said former coworker Faville, who lives in Broadalbin.

At some point, Kakavelos fired Duffy and Lamont took over some of the duties previously performed by Duffy, former coworkers said.

“Alli pretty much took over the manager role,” one coworker said. “She didn’t want the responsibility, but she took it on. She was headstrong. She took it on.”

“We worked together for eight or so months before I left,” the woman said. “My only regret, working with her, is that I didn’t take her with me when I left.”

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