IRS seizes Mystic Pizza bank account

Mystic - The owners of Mystic Pizza had more than $60,000 seized from a Chelsea Groton Bank account in their names after a criminal investigation by the Internal Revenue Service.

The U.S. Treasury Department in January seized $63,084.49 from the account of John Zelepos, George Zelepos and Christos Zelepos, according to a notice published this week in The Day.

The Zelepos family owns Mystic Pizza LLC, which operates the well-known restaurant on Main Street in Mystic. The family also launched Mystic Pizza II, but the North Stonington restaurant is now run as a separate entity by Harry Spanos, through the corporate name HGS Enterprises Inc. A website ties the two restaurants together, but Spanos said the businesses simply “piggyback on advertising.”

The website also ties the restaurants to Mystic Pizza Food Co., which sells a brand of frozen pizza with the slogan "A Slice of Heaven." It’s unclear from Internet searches and business recordings at the Secretary of the State’s Office who currently owns the company, which was started by Christos Zelepos, who trademarked the name Mystic Pizza.

The website mentions “our restaurants” and “our frozen pizza.”

Mystic Pizza became famous in the late 1980s when the movie studio MGM released a film of the same name starring the then-unknown Julia Roberts.

The IRS refused to release additional information about the investigation that led to the seizure of assets, but the legal notice referred to a statute that addresses money laundering.

"We do procedures like this one in the normal course of our business," IRS spokeswoman Jessica Crocker said.

John Zelepos did not return a phone call made Wednesday to Mystic Pizza, and other family members could not be reached.

According to the IRS website, revenue agents get involved in money-laundering investigations when people appear to be hiding the true source of their money.

Lisa Kennedy, the special agent in charge of the Mystic Pizza investigation, declined to comment.

No court records could be found regarding any legal proceedings against the Zelepos family or Mystic Pizza LLC.

According to the legal notice, anyone with a claim to the money seized from the Mystic Pizza account should mail proof of their ownership interest to the IRS, Criminal Investigation, Special Agent in Charge, IRS-Cl, 150 Court St., Room 214, New Haven, CT 06510, Attn: Lisa Kennedy.

Kennedy also can be reached by phone at (203) 781-3107, according to the legal notice.

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