Suspect In Westport Jewelry Store Slaying Kills Self, Report

A West Haven man awaiting extradition to face charges of murdering the owner of a Westport jewelry store and stealing $300,000 worth of diamonds has killed himself in a Spanish prison, according to law enforcement sources.

Andrew Robert Levene, also known as Robert Thomas, was arrested Tuesday in Spain on federal murder, robbery and firearms charges. The 41-year-old former Army Ranger was being held in an undisclosed Spanish prison pending a court appearance.

Thomas Carson, a spokesman for the U.S. Attorney's office, would not comment on Levene's status. But a source said law enforcement officials in Connecticut were notified Thursday morning that Levene had committed suicide and that authorities here were still trying to determine what exactly happened.

In early December, Levene met with Yekutiel Zeevi, the owner of YZ Manufacturers, known as Y.Z. Jewelers, at 431 Post Road East in Westport, officials said. He asked Zeevi for several diamonds that were 2 to 3 carats in size and valued between $45,000 and $75,000.

On Dec. 7, Levene met with Zeevi and an associate, identified as Ronen Konfino, 48, of New York City, at the dealership to examine the diamonds. Levene told Zeevi he would have to "sleep on it," the release states.

The next night, the men met again. Zeevi asked Konfino to bring the diamonds they'd viewed the night before, along with several others, together valued around $300,000.

After looking at the diamonds, Levene took out a gun and shot the men, then left with the diamonds, the release states.

Konfino called 911. Zeevi was brought to Norwalk Hospital, where he was pronounced dead. Konfino was treated and survived. He was a key witness in Levene's eventual capture because he provided authorities with a partial cell phone number as well as a sketch of the man who shot him.

Authorities used the partial cell phone number to eventually trace it to Levene, who they discovered had been calling jewelry stores from Philadelphia to Connecticut arranging to view diamonds.

On Dec. 11, four days after the murder Levene flew from Philadelphia to Amsterdam and then went to Spain with his family. He was arrested by the Spanish National Police.

Levene faced one count of interference with commerce through robbery, one count of federal murder, one count of attempted murder, and one count of causing death through the use of a firearm.

The case was investigated by federal, state and local police officers as well as Interpol. Investigators tracked Levene's movements to and from Spain to the United States over a four month period that proceeded the murder.

They discovered a pattern where Levene would call a jeweler to make arrangements to view diamonds and then fly overseas immediately afterwards. Levene tried to arrange a face-to-face meeting with at least one other jeweler in Connecticut but the store owner backed out at the last moment, according to federal documents.

A report in the Spanish newspaper El Pias on Wednesday said Spanish authorities established a joint task force with the FBI liaison to the U.S. Embassy in Madrid when travel records indicated Levene had moved to Spain with his family.

It was determined that he was living in a house in Barcelona where he was arrested. El Pias quoted Spanish authorities saying that during a search of the house authorities recovered "several effects that are related to the commission of crimes, including a low frequency radio 200 channels, different documents, a passport and a laptop, but apparently found no weapons."

When Levene's arrest was announced, law enforcement officials said it was unclear how long it would take to being him back to the United States. Since Levene was not a Spanish citizen authorities expected that it would not be difficult to extradite him although they expected it would take several months, at least, to do so.


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