Co-Conspirator in 2007 Connecticut Home Invasion Pleads Guilty
|U.S. Attorney’s Office November 05, 2012|
David B. Fein, United States Attorney for the District of Connecticut, announced that Michael N. Kennedy, also known as “Nicolae Helerea,” 33, formerly of Queens, New York, and Sibiu, Romania, pleaded guilty today before United States District Judge Vanessa L. Bryant in Hartford to attempted extortion and conspiracy charges related to his role in a 2007 Connecticut home invasion.
According to court documents and statements made in court, shortly before midnight on April 15, 2007, individuals 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 to the intruders that the victims were not in position to meet their demands, the intruders drugged the two residents with a sleeping aid and fled in the homeowner’s Jeep Cherokee.
The investigation has revealed that Kennedy participated in the planning and execution of the home invasion, including assisting in 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 the intruders to a location in the vicinity of the South Kent home and then picked them up the following morning in New Rochelle, New York, at the location where the intruders abandoned the stolen Jeep.
The investigation also revealed that, around the time of the home invasion, witnesses in South Kent identified Kennedy’s vehicle in the vicinity of the victim’s residence; Kennedy’s vehicle was towed from the area of the home invasion to Queens, New York; and Kennedy was in frequent phone contact with Emanuel Nicolescu, whose DNA was subsequently discovered in the stolen Jeep.
On February 2, 2011, a grand jury in Hartford returned an indictment charging Kennedy and Nicolescu with offenses related to this crime. Kennedy pleaded guilty today to one count of attempted extortion and one count of conspiracy to commit extortion, which carry a maximum term of imprisonment of 20 years on each count. A sentencing date has not been scheduled.
Kennedy has been detained since October 23, 2012, after he returned to the U.S. from Romania to face these charges.
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 20 years of imprisonment.
This ongoing investigation is being conducted by the Connecticut State Police, the Federal Bureau of Investigation in Connecticut and New York City, the New York City Police Department, and ICE Homeland Security Investigations.
This matter is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys David E. Novick and Paul H. McConnell.