Man Told Philanthropist and Partner He Injected Them with 'Deadly Virus,' Then Demanded Millions for Antidote

A man has admitted to participating in a Connecticut home invasion more than 15 years ago in which he injected two victims with a substance they were told was “deadly” as part of a plot for him and his co-conspirators to extort nearly $10 million

Published Time: 20.06.2024 - 23:31:05 Modified Time: 20.06.2024 - 23:31:05

A man has admitted to participating in a Connecticut home invasion more than 15 years ago in which he injected two victims with a substance they were told was “deadly” as part of a plot for him and his co-conspirators to extort nearly $10 million.

Stefan Alexandru Barabas, 38, pleaded guilty to a charge of conspiracy to interfere with commerce by extortion for invading a South Kent, Conn., home on April 15, 2007, the U.S. Attorney's Office, District of Connecticut said in a statement.

Authorities did not formally identify the victims but prior convictions of Barabas’ co-conspirators for the same crime indicate the victims were philanthropist Anne Bass and her partner Julian Lethbridge, according to the New Haven Register, The Middletown Press and The News-Times reported.

The conviction comes 17 years after the attack, when Barabas and his co-conspirators “bound and blindfolded” Bass and Lethbridge, injecting both of them “with a substance the intruders claimed was a deadly virus,” the DOJ said in its statement.

Authorities determined on the night of the incident, one Michael N. Kennedy drove Barabas and his friends Emmanuel Nicolescu and Alexandru Nicolescu to a location near the crime scene, per the statement.

Once inside, the intruders "bound and blindfolded" the two victims, injecting them with a substance they threatened was "a deadly virus," the statement said. They threatened the couple they would die “from the lethal injection” if they didn’t pay $8.5 million in exchange for an antidote to the purported virus, The Middletown Press, New Haven Register and The News-Times previously reported.

When the intruders realized the victims “were not in position” to give -

them what they were demanding, they “drugged” Bass and Lethbridge with sleeping pills and took off in Bass’ vehicle, the DOJ said in the its latest statement.

A few days later, an accordion case washed ashore about three hours away from the crime scene containing weapons, syringes, sleeping pills and “a laminated telephone card with the South Kent address of the victims,” the DOJ said. 

Witnesses identified one of the weapons inside the accordion case as belonging to Emmanuel, the DOJ said in its statement. 

Authorities later found his DNA in the vehicle and located Kennedy using witness information of a partial license plate seen on the night of the crime, the statement said.

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All four fled the country during the investigation. Barabas, who is Romanian, is the last among them to be convicted in the case. 

Emanuel was arrested in January 2011 when he returned to the U.S. In 2012, he was found guilty of attempted extortion, conspiracy to commit extortion, and possession of a stolen vehicle, per the DOJ, and sentenced to 240 months in prison.

Alexandru was arrested in 2013 in the U.K. and was sentenced to 121 months in prison after pleading guilty to attempted extortion and conspiracy to commit extortion.

Kennedy, who has a dual U.S.-Romanian citizenship, voluntarily returned to the U.S. and pleaded guilty to attempted extortion and conspiracy to commit extortion, which led to a 48 months in prison.

Barabas is set to be sentenced in September, per the DOJ.

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