Thursday, May 01, 2014

Construction worker contracted by Brooklyn landlord Menachem Stark fingered in the Hasidic man's killing 

Detectives made an arrest Wednesday night in a case that’s bedeviled them for four months, the brutal murder of Brooklyn landlord Menachem Stark.

The suspect, a 26-year-old construction worker named Kendel Felix, was employed by a contractor who worked for the doomed Hasidic businessman and is described by police sources as the “main player” in the plot to rob him.

Two friends the Brooklyn man identified as accomplices were also being questioned by cops, sources said.
Felix “admits they wanted to rob him,” one source said. “They weren't thinking about killing him.”

All three were linked to the crime by evidence found in the van that police believe was used to kidnap the 39-year-old Stark and carry him to his death, the sources said.

Two of the suspects were also linked to a cellphone that was found attached to the undercarriage of Stark’s car in the days after the murder, a source said. The phone belongs to one of the suspects, and there were calls made to it by another of the suspects, the source said.

The trio of toughs apparently believed Stark was loaded — unaware that he was actually up to his ears in debt.

The men knew the Hasidic businessman because they worked for a contractor he had hired, according to the source.

Stark owed more than $20,000 to a contractor, and detectives are still investigating whether the suspects kidnapped the victim in an attempt to collect that money — or if they were simply looking to rob him because they knew he carried a lot of cash.

Felix told cops he and his cohorts accidentally suffocated the father of seven as he fought to escape, a source said.

They originally intended to dump the body way out on Long Island, but the prediction of snow forced them to alter that plan, the source said.

They were seen on video driving around in Great Neck, clearly not sure where to go, the source said. At one point they had to get out of the van and free it after it had gotten stuck in some snow.

Earlier in the day, Police Commissioner Bill Bratton said the pace of the murder investigation "has accelerated significantly.”

“We're very pleased with the direction the investigation is now going,” he said.

So is the Hasidic community, which is hoping that after months of fruitless searching there might finally be justice for the slain father of seven and his grieving family.

"Today is bittersweet," said Rabbi David Niederman, who heads the United Jewish Organizations of Williamsburg. "Bitter because Menachem is no longer with us and he is forever missed, sweet that the law enforcement community has made an arrest in this heinous crime."

Assemblyman Dov Hikind (D-Brooklyn) chimed in with praise for the police.

"I have followed this terrible and tragic case from the beginning and applaud the NYPD for their tenacity in pursuing the murder suspects," said Hikind.

Stark was snatched Jan. 2 outside his Williamsburg office and found dead the next day in a Long Island trash bin. His body had been burned.

The landlord was up to his ears in debt when he died and police suspect his massive money woes may have figured in his murder.

Detectives quickly zeroed-in on a contractor to whom Stark owed $20,000. He is not one of the men police have in custody, sources said.

The debt was small-time to Stark - he was in debt to the tune of tens of millions of dollars.

It was discovered after Stark’s death that he’d improperly withdrawn $3.7 million from his bankrupt business, South Side Associates, to pay off personal loans.


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