U.S. Attorney’s Office
March 22, 2012
District of Connecticut
New York Man Found Guilty of 2007 Connecticut Home Invasion
David B. Fein, United States Attorney for the District of Connecticut; Kimberly K. Mertz, Special Agent in Charge of the New Haven Division of the Federal Bureau of Investigation; and Colonel Danny R. Stebbins of the Connecticut State Police today announced that a federal jury in New Haven has convicted EMANUEL NICOLESCU, 31, formerly of Ridgewood, New York, of attempted extortion, conspiracy to commit extortion, and possession of a stolen vehicle in connection with a 2007 Connecticut home invasion.
The trial began on March 14 and the jury returned the verdict this afternoon after approximately five hours of deliberations.
“The two victims endured a night of unspeakable horror, believing that they would die at the hands of three masked intruders,” stated U.S. Attorney Fein. “We are pleased with the jury’s verdict and thank them for their service and careful consideration of the evidence. Our work is not done, and the investigation continues. I also commend the substantial efforts and cooperation of the several agencies involved in this nearly five-year investigation, including the Connecticut State Police; the FBI in Connecticut, New York City, and Chicago; the New York City Police Department; and ICE Homeland Security Investigations.”
“The FBI will continue its investigation to ensure all involved are swiftly brought to justice,” stated FBI Special Agent in Charge Mertz.
“The success of this case was a direct result of the law enforcement teamwork in this extensive criminal investigation,” stated Colonel Stebbins of the Connecticut State Police. “That foundation work led to this successful prosecution.”
According to the evidence presented during the trial, NICOLESCU and two other individuals, wearing masks and brandishing knives and firearms, entered a home in South Kent, Connecticut shortly before midnight on April 15, 2007. 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, NICOLESCU and his co-conspirators 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 in New Rochelle, New York. NICOLESCU’s DNA was found on the steering wheel of the vehicle. Prosecutors showed that although NICOLESCU had been employed as a butler at the residence in South Kent for two months in 2006, the homeowner purchased the Jeep Cherokee after NICOLESCU had been fired and was no longer on the premises.
In addition to DNA evidence, expert testimony, and the testimony from the two victims, the government introduced into evidence the contents of an accordion case that washed ashore in Jamaica Bay six days after the home invasion. This evidence 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. Trial testimony from NICOLESCU’s former wife and former father-in-law showed that NICOLESCU’s father-in-law made the knife and presented it to NICOLESCU as a gift.
U.S. District Judge Mark R. Kravitz has scheduled sentencing for June 14, 2012, at which time NICOLESCU faces a maximum term of imprisonment of 50 years.
NICOLESCU has been detained in federal custody since his arrest by the FBI in Illinois on January 23, 2011.
This ongoing investigation is being conducted by the Connecticut State Police; the Federal Bureau of Investigation in Connecticut, New York City, and Chicago; the New York City Police Department; and ICE Homeland Security Investigations.
U.S. Attorney Fein also acknowledged the critical assistance provided by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Illinois and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York.
This matter is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys David E. Novick and Paul H. McConnell.