AP NEWS

Feds: Man gets 10 years in prison for role in Kent home invasion

May 15, 2019

KENT — A Romanian national involved in a Kent home invasion more than a decade ago was sentenced Wednesday to serve 10 years in prison for his role in the incident.

Alexandru Lucian Nicolescu, 41, a citizen of Romania, was sentenced to 121 months in prison for his participation in a 2007 home invasion, according to the state Department of Justice.

Court documents indicate that the home invasion happened just before midnight on April 15, 2007. That night, Nicolescu, Emanuel Nicolescu (the two are not related) and Michael N. Kennedy entered a South Kent home, wearing masks and brandishing knives and firearms, the DOJ said.

“The intruders bound and blindfolded two adult victims and injected each with a substance the intruders claimed was a deadly virus,” the DOJ said. “The intruders ordered the victims to pay $8.5 million or else they would be left to die from the lethal injection.”

The victims “were not in a position to meet the intruders’ demands,” the DOJ said, so the intruders drugged the two residents with a sleeping aid and fled in a Jeep Cherokee belonging to the homeowners.

The stolen Jeep was found abandoned the next morning at a Home Depot in New Rochelle, N.Y.

A few days later — April 21, 2007 — an accordion case washed ashore in Jamaica Bay. Inside the case were a stun gun, a 12-inch knife, a black plastic Airsoft gun, a crowbar, syringes, sleeping pills, latex gloves and a laminated telephone card with the address of the Kent victims.

“As to the accordion case, investigators learned that Kennedy’s father was a professional accordion player, and witnesses later identified the knife in the accordion case as a gift given to Emanuel Nicolescu by his father-in-law,” the DOJ said.

In 2010, a Connecticut State Police investigator made the connection that matched a partial Pennsylvania license plate — which had been seen by a witness near the victims’ estate on the night of the crime — to a car owned by Kennedy. The DOJ said the investigator found that Kennedy had previously shared an address with Emmanuel Nicolescu, who had been employed by the victim.

The investigator found that the data for the cell tower near the New Rochelle Home Depot had a call by a phone registered to Emmanuel Nicolescu, just minutes after the Jeep was abandoned, the DOJ said. Soon after, investigators from state police and the FBI got Emmanuel Nicolescu’s DNA and found that it was a partial match to a sample from the Jeep’s steering wheel.

The investigation showed that Emanuel Nicolescu and Kennedy worked with Alexandru Nicolescu and Stefan Alexandru Barabas to commit the crime, the DOJ said.

“The four men planned the home invasion, which included the research and purchase of implements necessary for the crime, such as two-way radios, stun guns and imitation pistols,” the agency said.

That night, the DOJ said, Kennedy drove Emanuel Nicolescu, Alexandru Nicolescu and Barabas to an area near the Kent home and picked them up the next morning in New Rochelle after they abandoned the Jeep.

On April 16, 2007, a day after the home invasion, Alexandru Nicolescu fled the United States. He has been detained since Nov. 14, 2013, when he was arrested in the United Kingdom, where he had been living. On Nov. 25, 2014, he was extradited to the U.S. On Jan. 8, 2016, he pleaded guilty to one count of attempted extortion and one count of conspiracy to commit extortion.

Emanuel Nicolescu was arrested on Jan. 23, 2011, in Illinois. On March 22, 2012, a jury found him guilty of attempted extortion, conspiracy to commit extortion, and possession of a stolen vehicle. On Aug. 17, 2012, he was sentenced to 240 months in prison.

Kennedy, also known as Nicolae Helerea, voluntarily returned to the U.S. from Romania. Kennedy pleaded guilty to one count of attempted extortion and one count of conspiracy to commit extortion on Nov. 5, 2012. On May 4, 2016, he was sentenced to 48 months in prison.

Barabas was charged in connection with the case and is currently being sought. The FBI is offering a reward up to $10,000 for information leading to his arrest.