Embattled Victoria’s/Union Hall Lounge owner cited as 2-decade drug fugitive
By Roger Bianchini
Warren County Report
Front Royal, VA – The manager of Victoria’s Restaurant and Union Hall Lounge has been arrested and is facing extradition to Massachusetts on 20-year-old drug trafficking charges.
Louie Rodinos was arrested on Feb. 25, on an extradition warrant issued and served by the Front Royal Police Department. The 52-year-old Rodinos is accused of failing to appear for trial on cocaine trafficking charges in Suffolk County, Massachusetts, in 1988. He is accused of using two aliases, Louis Rodinos and Elias Rodinos, since that time. According to the Feb. 25 extradition warrant, Rodinos’ real name is Elias Efremidis. Rodinos’s wife and daughter, in whose names his local businesses have been held, have used the last name of Efremidis during their two business stints in Front Royal. Several years prior to opening Victoria’s at 231 Chester Street in March 2006, Rodinos and his family operated the Grapevine Restaurant/Texas-Spirit Saloon at the intersection of Commerce Ave. and North Royal Avenue.
Rodinos was denied bond during an initial extradition hearing before Warren County Juvenile and Domestic Relations District Court Judge Ronald Napier on the afternoon of Feb. 26. A second extradition hearing is scheduled for Warren County General District Court on March 3, at 10 a.m.
In arguing against bond, Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Bryan Layton told the court Rodinos has been identified as Elias Efremidis, the man who fled Massachusetts in 1988 as he faced trial for trafficking two kilos of cocaine. Noting the man Rodinos is alleged to be, had disappeared from Massachusetts while on $25,000 bond, Layton called the defendant a continued flight risk. During cross-examination Layton asked Rodinos if he had not had his Victoria’s ABC license seized. Rodinos said no, that rather he had voluntarily turned it in. Regardless of the circumstance, Layton called the floundering Victoria’s business situation additional incentive for the defendant “to cut and run” if released on bond.
Rodinos’s attorney Paul Thomson called his client to testify at the extradition hearing in an attempt to establish Rodinos’ ties to the community and the state. Rodinos testified he has lived in Virginia for 11 years, that his son had graduated from Warren County High School and was now attending Hampden-Sydney College. Rodinos also said he currently lives in Warren County with his wife, Fatoula Efremidis, and that he has two grandchildren here. Both his wife and daughter were in court for the hearing but were not called to testify.
Neither attorney asked Rodinos if he was, in fact, the person named in the extradition warrant. However, in arguing for bond, Thomson asserted that if released, his client’s intention was to acquire counsel in Massachusetts to try and have that legal situation resolved.
Thomson later explained that authorities have 90 days to establish that Rodinos is in fact the person named in the extradition warrant – “Are you this guy? That’s the sole purpose of an extradition hearing,” Thomson said. He also noted that Massachusetts requires its governor’s authorization for extradition actions.
During the Feb. 26 hearing, Layton told the court the Massachusetts prosecutor that had originally brought the drug charges against Elias Efremidis had moved up within that office, and was still “eager to prosecute the case” despite the lapse of time involved.
The Efremidis family closed Victoria’s and the Union Hall on Feb. 11, six days before turning their ABC license in on Feb. 17.