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Press Release

Romanian National Admits Role in 2007 Connecticut Home Invasion

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, District of Connecticut

Vanessa Roberts Avery, United States Attorney for the District of Connecticut, announced that STEFAN ALEXANDRU BARABAS, 38, a citizen of Romania, pleaded guilty today before U.S. District Judge Jeffrey A. Meyer in New Haven to a charge stemming from his participation in a 2007 Connecticut home invasion.

According to court documents and statements made in court in this case and related cases, shortly before midnight on April 15, 2007, Barabas, Emanuel Nicolescu, and Alexandru Lucian Nicolescu, wearing masks and brandishing knives and facsimile firearms, entered a home in South Kent, Connecticut.  The intruders bound and blindfolded two adult victims and injected each with a substance the intruders claimed was a deadly virus.  The intruders ordered the victims to pay $8.5 million or else they would be left to die from the lethal injection.  When it became clear that the victims were not in position to meet the intruders’ demands, the intruders drugged the two residents with a sleeping aid and fled in the homeowner’s Jeep Cherokee.

The stolen Jeep Cherokee was abandoned the next morning at a Home Depot in New Rochelle, New York.  On April 21, 2007, an accordion case washed ashore in Jamaica Bay.  The content of the case included 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 South Kent address of the victims.

In 2010, an investigator from the Connecticut State Police connected a partial Pennsylvania license plate, seen by a witness near the victims’ estate on the night of the crime, to a car owned by Michael N. Kennedy.  Kennedy had formerly shared an address with Emmanuel Nicolescu, who had been employed by the victim.  The investigator then discovered that the data for the cell tower near the New Rochelle Home Depot contained a call by a phone number registered to Emmanuel Nicolescu, minutes after the Jeep was abandoned.  Shortly after that, investigators from the State Police and FBI gathered Emanuel Nicolescu’s DNA and found that it partially matched a sample from the Jeep’s steering wheel.

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 investigation revealed that Emanuel Nicolescu and Kennedy worked with Barabas and Alexandru Nicolescu to commit the crime.  Barabas’ co-conspirators 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.  On the night of April 15, 2007, Kennedy drove Barabas, Emanuel Nicolescu, and Alexandru Nicolescu to a location near the South Kent home, and then picked them up the following morning in New Rochelle at the location where the intruders abandoned the stolen Jeep.

Barabas, Emanuel Nicolescu, Alexandru Nicolescu, and Kennedy fled the U.S. during the investigation.  Emanuel Nicolescu returned to the U.S. and was arrested in Illinois in January 2011.  Emanuel Nicolescu and Kennedy were charged by indictment in February 2011, and Barabas and Alexandru Nicolescu were charged by indictment in November 2012.

Barabas was a fugitive until his arrest in Hungary on August 16, 2022.

Barabas pleaded guilty to conspiracy to interfere with commerce by extortion, an offense that carries a maximum term of imprisonment of 20 years.  Under the terms of a binding plea agreement, if accepted by the court, the parties have agreed that a sentence of between of between 72 months and 84 months of imprisonment is appropriate in this case. 

Judge Meyer scheduled sentencing for September 11.  Barabas has been detained since his arrest.

On March 22, 2012, a jury in New Haven found Emanuel Nicolescu guilty of attempted extortion, conspiracy to commit extortion, and possession of a stolen vehicle.  On August 17, 2012, he was sentenced to 240 months of imprisonment.

Alexandru Nicolescu was arrested on November 14, 2013, in the United Kingdom.  On January 8, 2016, he pleaded guilty to attempted extortion and conspiracy to commit extortion.  On May 15, 2019, he was sentenced to 121 months of imprisonment.

Kennedy, also known as Nicolae Helerea, a dual citizen of Romania and the U.S., voluntarily returned to the U.S. from Romania and, on November 5, 2012, pleaded guilty to attempted extortion and conspiracy to commit extortion.  On May 4, 2016, he was sentenced to 48 months of imprisonment.

This investigation has been conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Connecticut State Police and New York City Police Department.  U.S. Attorney Avery thanked the Department of Justice’s Office of International Affairs, Hungarian authorities, and the United Kingdom’s Metropolitan Police for their assistance in this case.

This matter is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney David E. Novick.

Updated June 21, 2024

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