The Rittenhouse Review

A Philadelphia Journal of Politics, Finance, Ethics, and Culture

Tuesday, April 04, 2006  

Please Call Your Office

This is one heck of a story, of the sort you just can't make up.

Below are excerpts from "Developer on Eve of Guilty Plea Is Discovered Slain at His Home," by Alison Leigh Cowan of the New York Times.

The article is datelined "Greenwich, Conn.," and you know if Dominick Dunne isn't already there, he's on his way.

Andrew M. Kissel, the wealthy Greenwich real estate developer who had agreed to plead guilty this week to having swindled banks, title companies and others out of tens of millions of dollars, was found dead on Monday, his hands and feet bound, in the blood-splattered basement of his home, according to the police and employees of a moving company who discovered the body. […]

Before moving to Greenwich, Andrew Kissel and his wife, Hayley Wolff Kissel, lived in a richly appointed duplex in a co-op building on 74th Street near Third Avenue. He was an investor and a real estate developer who owned classic cars and a $3 million yacht; his wife, a former world mogul-skiing champion, was a widely quoted stock analyst.

His death was the latest tragedy to befall the Kissel family after years of apparent success.

In 2003, Mr. Kissel's brother, Robert, a successful investment banker with Merrill Lynch in Hong Kong, was bludgeoned to death by his wife, Nancy, who had one of her children give him a milkshake laced with sedatives. The killing was called the "milkshake murder" in the Hong Kong press. […]

Andrew Kissel was scheduled to appear in federal court in White Plains on Wednesday to plead guilty to fraud charges in various real estate deals, according to his criminal lawyer, Philip Russell. Mr. Kissel also faced fraud charges in a separate case brought by the Manhattan district attorney's office stemming from the millions of dollars he had admitted taking and then repaid with interest to his Manhattan neighbors in the years he served as treasurer of his co-op.

Then, the kicker, a teasing, suspicions-raising kicker, if you're that type of reader:

On Friday, Mrs. Kissel called J. B. Moving, and said that she wanted the company to send movers to her house the following day to empty its contents and store them for at least a week to give her time to figure out where everything ought to be shipped, according to [company manager Doug] Roina. He said the company's owner, who did an estimate, "thought it was a strange situation. It was not our normal move scenario," having someone call one day to order a move large enough to require three trucks for the following day.

He said that the couple were arguing or "going at it pretty good" while his movers were on the premises on Saturday and that at one point, Mrs. Kissel turned to one of the movers and said, "He's going to jail anyway," by way of explanation for the heated volley of words. […]

On Monday about 8 or 8:30 a.m., when the movers returned to finish the job, they had trouble getting into the house and called Mrs. Kissel, Mr. Roina said. He said she gave them a code number that opened the gate and they began to gather the last of the couple's belongings. When they got to the basement, he said, they found Mr. Kissel, notified their boss and called the police.

At that point, Mr. Roina said he called Mrs. Kissel and notified her that "you need to get to your house; there's a situation there."

"She said, 'oh, O.K.,' no reaction. Not even a question," he said.

There's enough here for a two-part episode of Power, Privilege & Justice.

[Post-publication addendum (April 5): The Times updates the story today with "Details Emerge in Connecticut Murder Case," by Alison Leigh Cowan and Janon Fisher, while the New York Post, giving the story front-page treatment, offers, "Fraudster Eyed in 'Suicide by Hitman,'" by Tom Liddy, Murray Weiss, and Dan Mangan, with this lead: "Suspicions grew yesterday that a disgraced tycoon found slain in his Greenwich mansion may have paid a hitman to have himself knocked off -- so his kids could collect on his $10 million life-insurance policy." The New York Daily News serves up "No Forced Entry in Slay," by Jess Wisloski and Tracy Connor. Finally, the Greenwich Time has "Cops: Kissel Was Target," by Martin B. Cassidy.]

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