Westport murder suspect found dead in Spain

January 26, 2012 4:57:55 PM PST
A man accused of killing a Connecticut jewelry store owner, stealing about $300,000 in diamonds and fleeing to Spain has been found dead in prison there, just days after he was taken into custody after an international manhunt.

U.S. Embassy officials in Madrid said they were notified Thursday that Andrew Robert Levene, also known as Robert Thomas, had died in a location they did not disclose. The circumstances of his death also were not immediately released.

Levene, 41, was charged with federal murder, robbery and firearm offenses in the Dec. 8 shooting of Yekutiel Zeevi, owner of YZ Manufacturers LLC in Westport. His arrest had been announced Tuesday, and extradition proceedings had not yet started.

A spokesman for the U.S. Attorney's Office in Connecticut did not immediately release information Thursday about whether it was notified of Levene's death and its circumstances.

Levene contacted Zeevi in early December, asking him for several diamonds that were to two to three karats and valued between $45,000 and $75,000, authorities said.

The evening before the shooting, Zeevi met Levene, who examined the diamonds and was noncommittal about buying them, authorities said.

Levene met with Zeevi again on Dec. 8 on the ruse that he would buy several large diamonds he had arranged to purchase that month, according to a criminal complaint filed in federal court in Connecticut. Instead, Levene shot and killed Zeevi, authorities said.

Levene, who had military training in the use of weapons, stole about $300,000 in diamonds, authorities said.

Ronen Konfino, an executive at a New York diamond business, also was shot but survived and helped police with the investigation.

Levene traveled to Amsterdam from Philadelphia on Dec. 11 after missing a flight to Madrid, law enforcement officials said. Police said in mid-December that Levene had been seen in Philadelphia, possibly casing stores.

The Connecticut Post reported that Zeevi was born in Tel Aviv, Israel, and served as a commando in the Israeli navy.

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