Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

The Murder of Andrew Kissel

The Embezzler

Andrew Kissel
Andrew Kissel

Andrew Kissel had plenty of enemies, as the Greenwich police would soon discover, people with sufficient motive to kill him or have him killed. 

Among the many people he had wronged were the residents of 200 East 74th Street, a high-rise luxury apartment on the Upper East Side of Manhattan.  From 1995 to 2002 Andrew Kissel had been the treasurer of the building's co-op board.  During that time he had an unusual degree of autonomy and had sole signing authority over the co-op's bank account.  He had spearheaded a $12 million refinancing effort that allowed the co-op's owners to buy the land the building was built on in 1962 and dissolve the land lease that could someday imperil the value of their apartments.  The New York Times wrote that the reason for taking this huge loan was financially sound, but putting Andrew Kissel in charge of it was not.

This refinancing plan included setting up a reserve fund of $802,000 for contingencies, which is normal for such an undertaking.   What wasn't normal was that Andrew Kissel siphoned money out of this account and into his own personal accounts.

During his tenure on the board, Kissel also oversaw the renovation of the building's lobby and hallways in 2001.  The final bill came to over a million dollars, "four times what the neighbors had been told it would cost," according to the New York Times.  One resident estimated that it cost them "$50,000 a floor" for paint, wallpaper, and carpeting in just the hallways.  A forensic audit later revealed that six-figure payments were made to vendors suspected of being under Kissel's control.  According to New York magazine, Kissel started a line of credit for the building, "forged signatures, cut-and-pasted bank statements, and eventually borrowed $2 million under the co-op's name."

During this period Kissel had also renovated his own apartment, purchasing two studio apartments adjacent to his one-bedroom unit and combining them to create a deluxe duplex.  Records show that he had paid $295,000 for the one-bedroom apartment in 1992, then paid $160,000 and $350,000 for the two studios.  He eventually sold the duplex for nearly $3 million.

All told, Kissel managed to embezzle $3.9 million from the building during his time on the co-op board.  The board eventually discovered what he had done and confronted him with it.  Kissel confessed to his misdeeds and agreed to pay the board $4.7 million if they promised not to pursue the matter in court.   In October 2003 Kissel paid the settlement money, confident that the matter had been resolved and the board would not go public.

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