Erskin Felix Sentenced in Murder of Stark, Maintains His Innocence

OPINION – LM

Erskin Felix Claims he is Innocent and We Think He May Very Have Been Wrongly Convicted

Erskin Felix has maintained his innocence since day one. He said he did not kill Stark. He had the opportunity to plea a deal which he did not take, knowing that were he to be convicted, he would not get off lightly. He has continuously stated that he would not have killed Stark.

We have believed, all along. There were more than a fair share of people who had to gain by Stark’s tragic death.  Menachem Stark was involved with business and real estate partners for whom his death was a payday with a windfall outcome. Many of Stark’s properties have wound up in the hands of those very partners who have since sold them onward and made substantially lucrative deals.

There are things about the case that never made sense. The Van did not initially show signs of Stark or DNA. It was not captured on all of the videos that should have captured it had events been as depicted. A second pass over the van lead to finding DNA; and while the inconsistencies with the evidence have resulted in a partial conviction on evidence tampering, we don’t believe any of it. If the evidence was tampered with, it was not by Felix.

It took hours before the police were called in. Instead, the Shomrim were initially called and they reviewed everything first. The lack of transparency within Shomrim as a general matter leads one to question the actions they took after the initial determination that Stark was missing.

We received information that shortly after his death there were changes to LLC boxes at 199 Lee Avenue, where many of Stark’s properties were registered and where many of his property managers had “suites” (more accurately PO Boxes) including new addresses for some of these managers and companies.

We received information from Stark’s tenants who claimed that there were some very shady dealings; many included coercing them to  to sign documents that they later realized dismantled their rights to their homes, just days after the disappearance but before it was widely known the circumstances of Stark’s death or even that Stark was indeed dead. 

Moreover, while there was supposedly a kidnapping for ransom behind the Stark murder, no official information has ever been disseminated regarding the nature of the ransom except an alleged $20,000 payment. However, Felix had always claimed that this was not true. Why would three men from St. Lucia be involved in anything like this for $20,000? It just makes no sense.

We speculate that the other two “conspirators” were paid handsomely to accept a deal, spend time in prison and come out to find some form of compensation for their troubles waiting. It gives us a few years to figure it all out.

In the meantime, we wish our condolences to the Stark family. The death was tragic and unnecessary and right or wrong in our theories, he should not have died for money or for any other reason. 

We sincerely hope there are others out there who see this as we do. Erskin Felix is, in our opinion, innocent. We hope someone, if not us, manages to figure it all out.

Erskin Felix Sentenced to 24 Years to Life for Murder and Kidnapping of Menachem Stark

BROOKLYN

Erskin Felix, convicted of the murder and kidnapping of Menachem Stark, was sentenced Thursday to 24 years to life in prison. Five years and five months after Stark’s death, all four men accused of involvement in the crime have now been convicted or pleaded guilty, and sentenced.

In a victim impact statement prior to the sentencing, Mrs. Bashie Stark described the pain her family has experienced since her husband’s death.

“It was Erskin Felix who planned and executed this cruel attack, and it is he who’s responsible for the trauma that my family is suffering to this day and will suffer for the rest of our lives,” said Mrs. Stark, who remained composed throughout the statement. “With the murder of this sweet and gentle man, my loss is huge and my children too are going through life missing that love and security that their devoted father had always provided.”

“Menachem and I always imagined growing old together and watching our children reach adulthood. But in the years that have passed, two of my children got married and Menachem wasn’t there with us. Two grandchildren were born, and Menachem never got to meet them. To hold them. To bounce them on his knee. They will never know his love. My little ones barely remember their father, the man that loved them more than life itself.”

Stark was kidnapped by two men on the night of January 2, 2014, outside his Williamsburg office, and forced into the men’s minivan, in a scene captured on surveillance footage. His body was found in Long Island the next day.

A jury deliberated for less than five hours before convicting Felix, 40, in April, of second-degree murder, first degree kidnapping and tampering with physical evidence. He was acquitted of another first-degree kidnapping charge and a conspiracy charge.

Felix is believed to have masterminded a plan to kidnap Stark and hold him for ransom, claiming Stark owed him money. Felix managed construction sites on properties owned by Stark, a real-estate developer. Stark was friendly with Felix, according to testimony by Mrs. Stark, and had also hired Felix to do contracting work on his home some years earlier.

According to testimony by Erskin’s cousin Kendel Felix, Erskin and Kendel carried out the kidnapping, then drove to the home of Erskin’s brother Kendall Felix and picked him up, and then picked up another cousin, Irvine Henry. The plan went awry when the group suddenly realized that Menachem was no longer breathing; Erskin had unintentionally suffocated Menachem, who was already bound and gagged, when he had kneeled on Menachem’s chest.

Erskin and Irvine left the vehicle and returned to the area of Menachem’s office – likely to retrieve a tracking device Erskin had placed under Menachem’s vehicle weeks earlier – but, fearing being seen, went home. Meanwhile, Kendall and Kendel drove the minivan with Menachem’s body to Long Island, where they put him in a dumpster and burned him.

Kendel was convicted in September 2016 of felony murder and kidnapping. The other three were arrested shortly thereafter, and Kendel then reached a deal to cooperate with against Erskin for a reduced sentence.

Kendel was sentenced in May to the minimum of 15 years to life.

To continue reading click here.

 

ADDITIONAL READING:

Man convicted in kidnapping, murder of Menachem Stark gets 15 years

‘Mastermind’ of 2014 kidnapping and murder sentenced to 24 years to life in prison

 

 

The Menachem Stark Murder, Kendall Felix, A Railroaded Employee Righted by Sentence

The Menachem Stark Murder and Our Take on Events… a Business Transaction that Did not Involve Kendall Felix

March 27, 2019, Edited 3.28.19 (We have updated the story. The writing was unclear insofar as Kendall Felix was only convicted of burning the body and not he murder itself).

Dear Readers:

To Menachem Stark’s (z”l) family, we offer our sincerest condolences. The death of your family member was tragic, gruesome and quite disturbing. It cannot have been easy. There is little that can be said to offer much more than wishes for peace.

We do not feel the right man has been convicted.

We have long believed that Kendall Felix could not have dumped and burned Menachem Stark in 2014 and we do not believe the Kendel Felix murdered him. Kendall Felix and the members of his family involved most certainly could not have been masterminded the plan. The person, business or family that was involved was far more sinister, far more clever and had something to gain by the death of Stark.

We believe and have always contended that the Stark murder was a simple business endeavor. It left former partners with significant high value property and financial benefit. Those are the people to whom law enforcement should have looked and who should have been held to account for his death, not a St. Lucian employee and his family members. This was not a death over $20,000.00. It was a murder over millions. 

We contend that there was a massive cover-up. Even the reactions to events are inconsistent.

We maintain that the wrong man admitted to or is being tried for the murder and his family members were innocently charged with the larger conspiracy, either coerced or bribed into a false admission; and is or are now going to serve a sentence for the death of a man they did not kill. We have always maintained that there is far more to this story.  We are relieved, however, that Judge Danny Chun got it very right. We hope that Judge Chun’s decision is not just another piece; but rather that he knows Kendall Felix was a victim.  

Kendel Felix worked for Stark and in several interviews stated that Stark treated him well, was kind and was generous to him. While Stark had many enemies, it is rumored that he held loyal employees in high regard. His tenants had both good and bad to say about him; but Felix did not waiver in his expression of respect for his former employer. Kendel Felix did not kill him and we do not believe that Kendall Felix does what he has been charged with either. And, most certainly the Felix family, we do not believe, had anything to do with masterminding whatever plot there was that went drastically wrong.

Sources have told us over the years that there was some time before the civil police department was called in after Stark went missing. The Shomrim were called in first and hours went by. We have been advised that the whereabouts of the white van and CCTV cameras along the route allegedly taken during the alleged kidnapping do not correspond to the story as enacted. We have further been advised that the DNA evidence is also questionable because the first pass of the van revealed nothing and it was not until months later that DNA was found, indicating that it may have been planted to create a chain of events that might make sense. We have accounts of a very different story.

But, there is no denying that at least some of Stark’s former partners profited from his death, the result of business agreements whereby they took ownership of the properties still owned by Stark’s companies.  There is no brokering that there is property in Monsey, New York that has changed ownership in some questionable ways since Stark’s death, again the result of business relationships Stark had. There may have been answers at 199 Lee Avenue.

While we hope one day to put the pieces together in their inglorious detail, it is something of a relief to know that Kendall Felix, who we do not believe had anything to do with the death of Menachem Stark, will not spent the rest of his life behind bars. We hope perhaps one day Stark’s family will want to know what really happened as much as we do.

LM

 

Kendall Felix, who pleaded guilty to second degree conspiracy and first degree hindering prosecution, was sentenced to a minimum of two years and four months to a maximum of seven years Wednesday. Eagle file photo by Rob Abruzzese

Menachem Stark was kidnapped, murdered and burned. The man who set the fire could serve less than three years.

 

“Cruel beyond words:” Victim’s family outraged at lenient sentencing

Family members of a kidnapped and killed Brooklyn landlord whose body was found charred in a Long Island dumpster railed against what they said was too lenient a sentence for the man who bought the gasoline and burned the body.

Kendall Felix, who pleaded guilty to second-degree conspiracy and first-degree hindering prosecution, was sentenced to a minimum of two years and four months to a maximum of seven years on Wednesday.

“I feel that it’s way too little. The man ruined a living family’s life. No one asked him to burn the body. Cruel beyond words. I believe he deserves a lot more,” said Yenti Hershkovitz, the sister-in-law of Menachem Stark, whose murder rocked the Williamsburg Hasidic community in 2014.

Judge Danny Chun cited the defendant’s age and college degree at the time of the killing for the lenient sentence.

“I was also convinced that this defendant was not the mastermind for many, many reasons. This defendant is not the mastermind behind the planning to kidnap Mr. Stark in this case,” Chun said.

Stark was 39 and had seven children at the time of his death. The New York Postnotoriously ran a outrage-sparking cover just after his death that read, “Who Didn’t Want Him Dead?”, chronicling the victim’s debts and enemies.

To continue reading click here.

 

Call on Feds to Investigate City’s TPT Program, Deep Fraud?

BP Adams, Cornegy Call on Feds to Investigate City’s TPT Program

Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams, center, and City Council Member Robert Cornegy Jr., to his leſt , announces they are asking the federal, state and city to investigate the city’s Third Party Transfer program. Photo by Stephen Witt.

Brooklyn Borough President Eric L. Adams and City Council Member Robert Cornegy, Jr. (D-Bedford-Stuyvesant, Northern Crown Heights), the chair of the council’s Committee on Housing and Buildings, today called for a full-scale forensic audit and investigation on the federal, state, and city levels into the issue of deed fraud in the borough of Brooklyn, including the role that the New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development’s Third Party Transfer (TPT) program.

The TPT program has been the subject of an evolving series of KCP stories documenting how the program has taken a number of black and brown properties that are fully owned and paid for with no mortgage. The series has also questioned the state judiciary system, and how only three judges oversee almost all of the foreclosure cases.

In letters Adams and Cornegy sent last week to United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York Richard P. Donoghue, United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York Geoffrey S. Berman, New York State Attorney General Barbara Underwood, Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez, and Public Advocate Letitia James, the lawmakers additionally asked for partnership with the City Council to enact a temporary moratorium on TPT seizures and other foreclosures in Brooklyn such as to ensure no illegal activity is occurring.

Read More: https://www.kingscountypolitics.com/bp-adams-cornegy-call-on-feds-to-investigate-citys-tpt-program/

The California Bank Backing Hasidic Developers…. AND 199 LEE AVENUE

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199 LEE AVENUE, GLOBAL PROPERTY ASSET MANAGEMENT, SECTION 8 HOUSING, 421A TAX ABATEMENTS, LIQUIDITY AND THE TAGWORDS FOR THE  MONEY THAT FINANCES HASIDIC DEVELOPERS

199 Lee Avenue is really little more than a building with thousands of PO Boxes. Most of the PO Boxes represents another company. Most if not all of which are Hasidic owned and some of which are the actual registered addresses for assorted companies which may or may not be real companies.

In fact, 199 Lee Avenue was also tied to the late Menachem Stark and properties that he owned.

We think it no coincidence, however, that in 2016 there was an investigation into the PO Boxes and some of the connected LLC’s; an investigation that appeared to end with Kushner and the White House, though the article below suggests that to credit Kushner in the White House is a stretch. Perhaps.

We will say this. It is not the first time 199 Lee Avenue has been on our radar and will likely not be the last. But rather than try and tell you to entire story again, we have highlighted the relevant passages of the articles below in Red. That should tell it all.

We believe that the authorities, Federal and State Tax authorities, the SEC (think REIT’s) and the FBI should still be paying attention, not only to 199 Lee but to a number of connected addresses, some of which are listed below. Please pay attention to the below wherein it states that the Hasidic communities are some of the largest recipients of Section 8 Housing. We also presume that Medicare and Medicaid go hand-in-hand with that, a logical conclusion. But if you take a look at he numbers, particularly as they stand today, it simply does not make logical or reasonable sense. 

 

It’s 1999. AOL is how most people receive email, and computers everywhere could soon succumb to the Millenium bug. It’s also the year when a new lender emerges and quickly gains a reputation for catering to wealthy clients with “complicated” personal finances. Its name? Bank of Internet.

Flash forward to 2018. The bank has rebranded to BofI Federal, emerged unscathed from a Securities and Exchange Commission investigation, and has made a major bet on a niche corner of New York commercial real estate — backing projects from some of Brooklyn’s most prolific Orthodox Jewish developers. It does this mostly by acquiring senior notes on loans originated by other funds.

Lately, the bank has been in the headlines for a pair of real estate loans tied to Kushner Companies, as ProPublica reported. At Toby Moskovits’ Bushwick office redevelopment at 215 Moore Street, BofI refinanced the last-known Brooklyn development loan held by Kushner Credit Opportunities Fund, a debt vehicle Kushner Companies founded in 2016. At One Journal Square in Jersey City, BofI put up funds to finance Fortress Investment Group’s $57 million bridge loan to Kushner Companies. That two-tower project has been plagued by problems, both political and financial, and it’s unclear if the company will be able to see it through.

In an interview with The Real Deal, Gregory Garrabrants, BofI’s CEO, said it was misleading to draw any connection between his firm’s business with Kushner Companies and the fact that the SEC investigation was dropped.

“There’s a political agenda behind talking about Kushner,” Garrabrants said. “I don’t know Mr. Kushner, but I don’t have to because we know Fortress.”

Deep Brooklyn

Though BofI, a San Diego-based company with $8.9 billion in assets, has long been active in single-family lending in New York, it only recently got into commercial real estate. Sources said it started to appear as a financing option in “warehouse lending,” in which a bank issues a loan to a warehouse owner and funds that loan with debt from a secondary lender, such as BofI. Essentially, it’s a way for lenders to issue loans without having to use their own money. This type of deal is often referred to as loan hypothecation, in which the original loan is the collateral for the debt a lender seeks from a bank.

“It’s more of a West Coast thing,” said David Eyzenberg, a debt broker, on the hypothecation structure. “Where we really got to know [BofI] was in providing leverage to hard-money lenders.”

The bank’s services have been especially appealing to developers in Brooklyn, specifically the middle-market investors and luxury rental builders hailing from the borough’s ultra-Orthodox communities, according to an analysis of property records by TRD. The analysis found that of Bofl’s 10 largest loans backed by real estate in the last three years, eight were tied to assets owned by Brooklyn developers, including a number from Williamsburg’s Hasidic community.

Hasidic developers commonly prefer to finance in smaller loan increments over several stages, allowing them to revise design plans or recapitalize with additional partners and then restructure the financing, sources said. The approach stands in contrast with Manhattan’s development giants, which traditionally shoot for a large institutional loan up-front.

Charles Kushner, Toby Moskovits, 215 Moore Street and 61 Adams Street

“There is a certain type of sponsor turning to this bank for land and development deals, which have a higher cost of capital and are harder to finance,” said an investor familiar with the bank who requested anonymity. “And so the bank has largely been serving as a bridge lender to the same players.”

The list includes prominent Hasidic builders such as Simon Dushinsky’s Rabsky Group, Abraham Leser’s Leser Group, Cheskie Weisz’s CW Realty and Zelig Weiss’ Riverside Developers. Public records show Dushinsky has the most debt on BofI’s books, with more than $80 million spread across three loans.

The model means BofI has little to no interaction with the sponsors themselves. Scott Barone, whose firm Barone Management secured $15.8 million from BofI via Emerald Creek Capital in 2016, said he “never had any actual dealings with them.”

Sources identified Sal Salzillo as one of the main point people leading lender financings on development deals for BofI in New York. However, Salzillo left in March for Sandhills Bank, a South Carolina-based bank owned by the Kalikow real estate family. He could not be reached for comment.

Garrabrants wouldn’t reveal the names of his New York real estate team members and said the firm does not target any specific community for its business.

“There’s no specific marketing or any kind of specific targeting of any particular group of borrowers,” he said.

The wide web

In 2016, the SEC started hitting the bank with subpoenas, after a whistleblower filed a lawsuit in 2015 alleging the bank might have been lending illegally to certain foreign nationals  in possible violation of federal money laundering laws. The suit also alleged the bank failed to fully disclose certain loan practices to regulators. The SEC dropped its investigation in June 2017 without taking any legal action. Garrabrants attributed the lawsuit and subsequent inquiries to the machinations of angry short sellers who watched the bank’s stock continue to climb. In a January 2017 earnings call, he called the allegations “fake news.”

But some have questioned whether the SEC dropping its investigation and the bank’s lending to a major Kushner Companies development project is too much of a coincidence. Jared Kushner joined the White House last January as a senior adviser, and although he has resigned from company positions, he still retains ownership in much of the company portfolio. Garrabrants dismissed these questions as part of a “tin-hat conspiracy” and said the SEC cleared the investigation months before it began talks with Fortress — Kushner’s lender at One Journal Square — about acquiring the senior interest in the loan.

Kushner Companies has faced a series of challenges at the project and it appears unlikely that Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop, a Democrat, will grant the company building permits or tax abatements, though he denies it has anything to do with opposition to the Trump administration. Garrabrants was critical of Fulop, but said BofI will make money in the deal regardless. If Kushner Companies can’t build it or if it defaults, someone else will get the project done, he said.

“With respect to any kind of hurdles that arise as a result of any kind of issues related to some of the things that I’m sure people who are motivated in certain in manners put in place,” Garrabrants said in a statement apparently directed at Fulop, “hurdles in respect to [Kushner] in particular, and essentially punish him for his political affiliation, those are more difficult.”

However, he continued, “If we ended up with an ownership interest. … There will be people lining up to make sure that we don’t lose money on that project.

 

THE REAL DEAL ARTICLE TO FOLLOW:

Continue reading

A Stark Contrast, Not the Pink Panther – Felix Not the Mastermind

 

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IF A DEAD MAN COULD SPEAK… and the thousands of mailboxes…

We still do not believe that the drowning in Miami was really a drowning. Whether it is because there are simply too many “coincidences” and things that by our minds don’t make sense or whether something just doesn’t feel right, we cannot say.

We also do not believe that Menachem Stark was murdered  Kendel Felix. We believe that this poor guy is taking the blame for something far more nefarious. 

There are too many similar addresses, 199 Lee Avenue and the thousands of mailboxes and 266 Broadway, Klein, Leopold… too many links. We think that there might be answers in those mailboxes, those addresses, the deaths in Miami. We just haven’t figured it all out yet.

For now, we hope Felix Kendel’s lawyer can keep him from going to prison for a crime he simply was not smart enough to commit. To pull that off, one would have had to be very savvy, probably the same guy who wanted the men in Miami dead… in a mikveh…

 


Man accused of killing Brooklyn landlord may have made a false confession, psychologist testifies: ‘There was a great deal of coercion’

http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/nyc-crime/man-accused-killing-b-klyn-landlord-falsely-confessed-article-1.2728711

A man who confessed to police that he took part in the murder of a Brooklyn real estate mogul in a robbery gone wrong is susceptible to making false confessions, an expert witness for the defense testified in a pre-trial hearing Wednesday.

Marc Janoson, who holds a PhD in psychology, testified that Kendel Felix has psychological traits that make him more likely than the average person to admit to a crime he didn’t commit.

Felix, who is charged with murdering Menachem Stark, had outlined to authorities in a taped interview and written statements how he served as the driver when a group of men snatched the high profile real estate magnate from in front of his office during a snowstorm on Jan. 2, 2014.

Stark’s burned body was later found in Great Neck, L.I. Felix also admitted to buying gasoline, but not to lighting the body on fire.

B’klyn murder suspect says cousin planned landlord kidnap

“He has vulnerabilities that the literature has associated with false confessions,” Janoson told Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Neil Firetog on Wednesday.

On Tuesday, a video of the confession was played in court in which Felix fingered his cousin as the mastermind behind a plot to rob Stark because he “has a lot of money.”

Janoson said his prognosis was based on interviews with psychological tests administered to Felix and interviews with the accused killer and his mother.

During those interviews, Felix told Janoson that investigators had pressured him into confessing after saying his parents would be deported and he may never see his three children again. He was also told he didn’t need a lawyer, because he wasn’t under arrest, Continue reading