Two Brooklyn brothers were arrested Thursday on charges stemming from the January 2014 kidnapping and murder of a Hasidic businessman from Brooklyn whose partly burned body was found in a trash bin at a Great Neck service station, officials said.
Erskin Felix, 38, of Crown Heights masterminded the plot to kidnap Menachem Stark, 39, in an attempt to extort money from him, police said. Felix was charged with first-degree kidnapping and second-degree murder.
Felix’s brother, Kendall Felix, 28, also of Crown Heights, was charged with hindering prosecution and tampering with evidence, police said. Erskin Felix was ordered held without bail at his arraignment on Friday; his brother awaited arraignment late Friday.
According to acting Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez, the kidnapping plot was an attempt by Erskin Felix to squeeze money from Stark, for whom he did construction work. Prosecutors said Felix recruited his cousin Kendel Felix to help in the kidnapping attempt and together they accosted Stark on a Brooklyn street during a snowstorm early on Jan. 2, 2014. The crime was caught on a grainy surveillance video.
Stark resisted the attack but ultimately was forced into the back seat of a Dodge Caravan where he was asphyxiated, Gonzalez said. Stark had a number of real estate holdings in Brooklyn but had suffered some business reverses. Bankruptcy court files indicated hundreds of thousands of dollars was missing from some of his corporate accounts and he had been sued for defaulting on tens of millions in business loans.
After Stark’s death, Erskin Felix then picked up his brother Kendall to help dispose of the body, prosecutors said. Kendel Felix and Kendall Felix then drove to Great Neck, where they put Stark’s body in the gas station trash bin at 120 Cuttermill Rd. and set it on fire, according to police.
Kendel Felix, 28, was arrested earlier in the probe and was convicted of second-degree murder and kidnapping at a trial that ended in September.
In a videotaped statement Kendel Felix gave to police, he admitted buying some gasoline but denied pouring it on Stark’s body and lighting it. He faces up to life in prison when he is sentenced.