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Romanian National Sentenced For Role In CT Home Invasion, Fake Virus Threat

U.S. Federal Court in Hartford.
U.S. Federal Court in Hartford. Photo Credit: File

A Romanian national has been sentenced for his role in a Connecticut home invasion that mirrored the script of a Hollywood film.

Alexandru Lucian Nicolescu has been sentenced to 121 months in prison for his role in a 2007 home invasion in South Kent, U.S. Attorney John Durham announced this week. Nicolescu pleaded guilty to one count of attempted extortion and one count of conspiracy to commit extortion.

Shortly before midnight on April 15, 2007, Nicolescu, Emmanuel Nicolescu - who are not related - and a third man brandished masks, knives and guns and broke into the South Kent home. The three bound and blindfolded their two victims and injected each with a substance they claimed was a deadly virus.

Durham said that the intruders ordered his victims to pay them $8.5 million, or they would be left to die from the lethal injection. When it became clear they couldn’t make the multi-million dollar payoff, the two were drugged with a sleeping aid and the three men fled in the homeowners’ Jeep Cherokee.

The Jeep was abandoned the next morning at the Home Depot location in New Rochelle. Days later, on April 21, 2007, an accordion case washed ashore in Jamaica Bay with 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.

According to Durham, in 2010, a newly assigned Connecticut State Police investigator 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 Kennedy. The investigator 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 later learned that Kennedy’s father was a professional accordion player and the knife in the case was a gift given to Emmanuel Nicolescu by his father-in-law.

Durham said that the investigation determined that Emmanuel Nicolescu and Kennedy worked with Alexandru Nicolescu and 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 country on April 16, 2007, and has been detained since Nov. 14, 2013, when he was arrested in the United Kingdom. He unsuccessfully contested his extradition and, on Nov. 25, 2014, was transported back to the country.

Emanuel Nicolescu was arrested in Illinois on Jan. 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 Aug. 17, 2012, he was sentenced to 240 months in prison.

Kennedy, also known as Nicolae Helerea, a citizen of Romania, voluntarily returned to the U.S. from Romania and, on Nov. 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 in prison.

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.

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