The NYPD Wednesday took two men into custody in the January slaying of financially strapped Brooklyn Realtor Menachem Stark, a law enforcement source said.
Detectives also are seeking a third possible suspect who they believe was involved in the Jan. 2 abduction of Stark, 39, which, the source said, appears to have been a robbery. It took place during a snowstorm in front of the victim's Williamsburg office, the source said. Stark's partly burned body was found two days later in a trash bin on Cutter Mill Road in Great Neck.
Kendel Felix, 26, of 921 Montgomery St. in Brooklyn, was charged with second-degree murder. The other suspect's name was not released. Felix made statements that police believe implicate himself in the crime, the source said.
Both men are Brooklyn residents who knew Stark from working as contractors and believed that he was carrying a lot of money with him the night of the abduction, the source said. The kidnapping was captured on surveillance cameras that showed Stark being accosted by at least two men and placed in a car that was parked behind his vehicle. Several hundred dollars in cash was found in the van used in the abduction, said the source.
At a news conference earlier Wednesday, NYPD Commissioner William Bratton would only say that the pace of the Stark investigation accelerated in the previous 24 hours and that other developments were imminent.
"The callous murder of Menachem Stark shocked not just the Jewish community, but all people of good conscience," said city Councilman David Greenfield (D-Brooklyn) in a statement.
Stark faced numerous business problems and had been labeled by some as a slumlord. Stark's company, South Side House LLC, has been involved in a lengthy bankruptcy case and court papers indicated he had defaulted on more than $30 million in mortgages and had failed to pay other creditors.
But recently filed papers in bankruptcy court show that a deal has been worked out in which creditors will be paid 100 percent of their claims. A company known as RBLK Lender LLC will pay off about $40 million in mortgage debt and pay $52 million for South Side's apartment building on South Fourth Street, Williamburg, according to court records.
A probe by the bankruptcy trustee found evidence that a net of $2.2 million was misappropriated from South Side's accounts and that Stark asked tenants to pay an additional month's rent for a total of $312,533 that is also missing. The trustee said in court papers that $1.9 million is still missing.
Stark's former partner Israel Perlmutter, without admitting any involvement, has agreed to put up money to cover cash Stark allegedly misappropriated from South Side's company's coffers.
With John Valenti