NEW YORK -- A Brooklyn man has been charged in theamid a botched kidnapping and extortion plot, according to the Brooklyn District Attorney’s office.
Acting Brooklyn DA Eric Gonzalez said in a statement that 38-year-old Erskin Felix was the “mastermind” behind the plot that left 39-year-old Menachem Stark dead in January 2014. Felix is charged with first-degree kidnapping and second-degree murder. His younger brother Kendall Felix, 28, was also arrested and is facing charges of hindering prosecution and tampering with evidence.
Stark was abducted on the street outside his office in Brooklyn’s Williamsburg neighborhood on the night of Jan. 2, 2014, by Erskin Felix and his cousin Kendel Felix, the DA alleges. Kendel Felix was arrested in May 2014 and convicted of kidnapping and second-murder last month.
In video of Stark’s kidnapping, he can be seen struggling with his attackers and being forced into a waiting car. Stark’s charred remains were found in a Dumpster outside a Long Island gas station the next day.
Erskin Felix did construction work for Stark and enlisted his cousin, Kendel Felix, to help kidnap Stark in an attempt to extort money from him, the DA says. Amid the kidnapping, according to the DA, Stark was asphyxiated when one of the kidnappers sat on his chest.
The DA alleges Erskin Felix then picked up his brother Kendall to help get rid of Stark’s body, which was tossed into the Dumpster and set on fire. Stark’s cause of death was determined to be asphyxia by compression of the neck and chest.
Kendel Felix is expected to be sentenced next month. He faced up to 25 years in prison.
Erskin Felix is awaiting arraignment in Brooklyn Criminal Court on the kidnapping and murder charges. He faces 25 years to life if convicted. His brother Kendall Felix is also awaiting arraignment and faces up to seven years if convicten on the hindering proseuction and evidence tampering charges.
Stark was a real estate developer and father of seven. At the time of his murder, loved ones begged for answers.
“Children do not have a father, a wife doesn’t have a husband,” family friend, Rabbi David Niederman told CBS New York.“Why? What did he do?”