Murder of Andrew Kissel
Andrew M. Kissel (August 23, 1959 – April 3, 2006) was an American real estate developer who was found murdered at his rented Tenafly, New Jersey estate. Kissel had been accused of defrauding a New York co-op board of millions of dollars.
His body was found by workers from a moving company. He had been stabbed to death in the basement of the home. The motive for his murder was a mystery, as there were many people who had problems with him, including those from the U.S. Justice Department, several multi-billion dollar corporations/conglomerates, and his own wife.
From 1995 to 2002, Kissel had been the treasurer of the co-op board at 200 East 74th Street in Manhattan. He had a great deal of autonomy and sole signing authority over the Board's bank account. He arranged a refinancing plan, to create a reserve fund and pay for renovations to the building, but also siphoned money into his own account, forged statements, and eventually embezzled $3.9 million. When the Board confronted him, he confessed and agreed to pay $4.7 million if they agreed to not go public. He entered into a civil settlement in October 2003, and was confident that the matter had been resolved and the board would not go public; however, a grand jury in Manhattan charged Mr. Kissel with grand larceny and other crimes in connection with the $4.7 million that he admitted owing the co-op because of money he took during the seven years he was treasurer.
Kissel was known for his interest in collectibles and expensive possessions. He owned an 80-foot (24 m) Lazzara yacht that has been valued at $2.8 million. Among the vehicles in his classic-car collection was a 1957 Mercedes valued at $420,000.
Another item in his car collection was one of the original four 1984 Pontiac Trans Am automobiles used in the TV series "Knight Rider". In order to pay off some of the estimated $30 million debt owed to various creditors (including the Internal Revenue Service), many pieces of his collections were sold off. On December 20, 2007 the K.I.T.T. car was listed on eBay for sale with a starting bid of $20,000, which was met by an unspecified bidder. With its authenticity verified, the car was re-listed on eBay on June 12, 2008, again with a starting bid of $20,000. The auction ended without the previous enthusiasm of the first auction and it was purchased by a friend of George Barris, the car's creator.
Murder and arrests
Kissel and his wife, Hayley, were in the process of moving from the Greenwich house in March 2006. The Kissels were behind in their rent; their landlord had filed a lawsuit claiming the couple had neglected to pay the $14,300 rent for six months. The Kissels had agreed to vacate the premises by March 31.
Members of a moving crew arrived at the mansion to complete the move and found Kissel's body, hands and feet bound, in the basement. He had been stabbed to death.
Kissel's chauffeur, Carlos Trujillo, and Trujillo's cousins Leonard Trujillo and Jair Trujillo were arrested in March 2008 and charged in his death. Police had followed up on a credit card found during a search of Carlos Trujillo's residence. During a follow-up interview, they were told about a murder plot.
Trial and subsequent events
According to the prosecution, the motive for the murder was the Trujillos' fear that their involvement in laundering money for Kissel would be exposed. The jury had problems understanding or accepting this theory.
Carlos Trujillo was charged with murder and attempted murder. He was acquitted of the murder charge but entered a guilty plea to the attempted murder charge and received a six-year prison sentence.
Leonard Trujillo pleaded guilty to manslaughter and conspiracy to commit murder. He testified against his cousin Carlos and received a sentence of 20 years.
- Hsu, Eric and Kim, Yung. "Family mourns real estate broker fatally stabbed in Conn.", The Record (Bergen County), April 8, 2006. Accessed May 13, 2007. "William Kissel, a chemist, was a manager for Sun Chemical Corp., before starting his own copier toner company in 1972. He moved the family to a small house in Woodcliff Lake from Manhattan before settling in Saddle River. Robert Kissel grew up to become a wealthy investment banker at Merrill Lynch and was sent to Hong Kong with his wife and three children."
- "Nancy Kissel's Murder Appeal Dismissed in Hong Kong (Update3)". Bloomberg. October 6, 2008.
- Cowan, Alison (October 30, 2005). "How a Co-op Lost Millions". The New York Times. Retrieved February 26, 2012.
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- "'Knight Rider' car to make appearance on Staten Island". Staten Island Advance. August 20, 2008. Retrieved February 26, 2012.
- Samuels, Tanyanika (March 22, 2008). "Two charged in Andrew Kissel murder". Daily News. Retrieved June 23, 2009.
- Friedman, Debra (April 13, 2011). "Unraveling the murder mystery of Andrew Kissel". stamfordadvocate.com. Retrieved February 26, 2011.
- Friedman, Debra (December 20, 2010). "Kissel trial: Acquittal on murder charge; mistrial declared on attempted murder". greenwichtime.com. Retrieved February 26, 2012.