Butler Guilty of Extortion

Socialite's former butler found guilty of trying to extort millions from her.

By Debra Bogstie
|  Monday, Aug 20, 2012  |  Updated 4:52 PM EDT
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Butler Guilty of Extortion

NBC Connecticut

Socialite Anne Bass and her companion were held against their will inside her home in Kent.

The man who served as the butler for socialite Anne Bass has been found guilty for his role in invading his employer's stately home, injecting her with what he claimed was a deadly virus and demanding $8.5 million for an antidote.

Emanuel Nicolescu shook his head and cried as he was found guilty for a crime that has made national headlines.

The decision came three days after Bass took the witness stand and told jurors she thought she would die during the ordeal.

Bass described the events of April 15, 2007, when Nicolescu and two others, allegedly broke into her Kent home and held Bass and her companion hostage. 

Nicolescu served as her butler until he was fired in 2006 after crashing one of Bass' vehicles while using it on an unauthorized personal trip.

Bass said she was headed to her kitchen when she heard "war cries" and saw three men in black hoods and clothes who were carrying guns and knives.

"In my memory, I just see them almost like they were in some military formation," said Bass.

She said she pulled the kitchen door closed but the men grabbed her and shoved her to the floor in her living room.

"I was asking them what they wanted," said Bass. "They just told me to shut up."

Bass said she also heard them restrain her companion, Julian Lethbridge.

Then they took them to Bass' upstairs bathroom, where they held them, bound and blindfolded, for most of the six hour ordeal.

At one point, they heard loud snaps and clicks.  "I thought they were about to blow the house up.  I was sure we were going to die," said Bass.

Then, Bass described the injections she and Lethbridge received.  Bass said one of the captors cut the sleeve of her bathrobe, cleaned off her shoulder with an alcohol wipe, and then stuck a needle into her arm. 

"It was excruciating," said Bass.

They said it was a deadly virus and demanded $8.5 million for an antidote.

"It all seemed really strange," said Bass. "An antidote is for poison, not a virus.  It didn't make any sense."

Bass, in tears, said she spent a lot of time thinking about her two children and "how horrible this would be for them because I was sure I was going to die." 

Bass also said she feared her 3-year-old grandson would also die. He was sleeping in a room nearby.  "I just didn't see how anyone could survive something like that," she said.

Towards the end of the ordeal, Bass described what has become a recurring nightmare for her.  She said, "I felt like someone was just staring at me with these piercing blue eyes."

The defense claims Nicolescu had nothing to do with either planning or carrying out the crime. 

They challenged her testimony about seeing a suspect with blue eyes, saying such details appeared nowhere in her statements to police.

Bass said she told police several times about the recollection.

Eventually, the captors drugged Bass and Lethbridge and left the estate in one of her Jeeps once they fell asleep.

When Bass woke up, she was able to free herself and Lethbridge.  Her grandson was unharmed.

Last week, Lethbridge testified in the trial.

Nicolescu is charged with attempted extortion and other offenses. 

Prosecutors said DNA evidence linked him to the stolen Jeep which Bass purchased after Nicolescu was fired from his job.

He could be sentenced to up to 50 years in federal prison.

His attorneys said they are disappointed and will file motions, arguing that the government did not have sufficient evidence.

Lawyers for the defense said they don't think Nicolescu will be the last person to be tried for the crime.

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