Romanian National Sentenced to 10 Years in Federal Prison for Role in 2007 Connecticut Home Invasion
John H. Durham, United States Attorney for the District of Connecticut, announced that ALEXANDRU LUCIAN NICOLESCU, 41, a citizen of Romania, was sentenced today by U.S. District Judge Vanessa L. Bryant in Hartford to 121 months of imprisonment for his participation in a 2007 Connecticut home invasion.
According to court documents and statements made in court, shortly before midnight on April 15, 2007, Alexandru Nicolescu and Emanuel Nicolescu, who are not related, and another individual, wearing masks and brandishing knives and 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. A few days later, 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, a newly assigned investigator from the Connecticut State Police made the connection that matched 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, and made a further connection that 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 nearby 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 Alexandru Nicolescu and, as alleged, Stefan Alexandru Barabas, to commit the crime. 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. On the night of April 15, 2007, Kennedy drove Emanuel Nicolescu, Alexandru Nicolescu and Barabas to a location in the vicinity of 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.
Alexandru Nicolescu fled the U.S. on April 16, 2007. He has been detained since November 14, 2013, when he was arrested in the United Kingdom where he was residing. He unsuccessfully contested his extradition and, on November 25, 2014, was transported to the U.S. On January 8, 2016, he pleaded guilty to one count of attempted extortion and one count of conspiracy to commit extortion.
Emanuel Nicolescu was arrested in Illinois on January 23, 2011. On March 22, 2012, a jury in New Haven found him 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.
Kennedy, also known as Nicolae Helerea, a citizen of Romania, voluntarily returned to the U.S. from Romania and, on November 5, 2012, pleaded guilty to one count of attempted extortion and one count of conspiracy to commit extortion. On May 4, 2016, he was sentenced to 48 months of imprisonment.
Stefan Barabas has been charged in connection with this case and is currently being sought. The FBI is offering a reward of up to $10,000 for information leading to his arrest.
As to Barabas, U.S. Attorney Durham stressed that an indictment is not evidence of guilt. Charges are only allegations, and he is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
This investigation is being conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Connecticut State Police and New York City Police Department. U.S. Attorney Durham thanked the Department of Justice’s Office of International Affairs 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.