- Last Updated: 5:21 AM, August 18, 2012
- Posted: 12:47 AM, August 18, 2012
The butler did it — and now he’s going to do some hard time.
The former butler of millionaire society philanthropist Anne Bass was sentenced to 20 years in prison yesterday for taking her hostage in her Connecticut estate and injecting her with a fake virus during a botched 2007 extortion effort.
Emanuel Nicolescu begged for mercy as he insisted he was innocent during the hearing in New Haven federal court.
“I am sorry for what they went through, but I didn’t do it,” said Nicolescu, who whined that he was only 150 pounds and couldn’t possibly survive in prison.
“In jail, I’m a target for a lot of things,” he said. “I’m scared.”
The meek image the ex-butler portrayed yesterday is a far cry from the description of the terrifying and twisted attack he launched on April 15, 2007, at Bass’ home in the western Connecticut town of Kent.
Officials said Nicolescu and masked accomplices injected the helpless Bass and her companion, Julian Lethbridge, with a blue liquid that they said was a deadly virus.
They told the victims that they would hand over the antidote only if Bass forked over $8.5 million. The attackers warned Bass and her pal that they had only 24 hours before the “virus” symptoms were irreversible.
The substance was actually a harmless dye, and the intruders eventually fled without getting money.
Neither Bass nor Lethbridge attended yesterday’s hearing, but a lawyer for them told the court that the attack had a long-lasting effect on the victims.
“The perpetrators executed this crime with military precision and left no doubt about their intentions,” lawyer Alex Hernandez said, reading a victim-impact statement.
“The terror they inflicted was real and was clearly intended to be perceived as such. Anne and Julian believed that each moment could well be their last.”
He said Bass — who is the former wife of Texas billionaire Sid Bass — and her companion also fear that Nicolescu’s accomplices, who have not been caught, might still come after them.
“To date, he has not accepted any responsibility for what he did, he has expressed no remorse for what took place, and he has done absolutely nothing to help bring others to justice,” the impact statement said. “If he should now choose to do so, he will have earned a measure of forgiveness from them.”
Nicolescu’s lawyer had asked for only eight years, while prosecutors asked for 25 to 30 due to the heinousness of the crime.
During the trial, Bass testified that she heard “war cries” from men dressed in black who threw her to the floor, tied her up, and talked about whether to kidnap her 3-year-old grandson.
She had fired Nicolescu as her butler about a year before the attack for wrecking a car.
To the end he claimed his innocence. Officials, however, found his DNA on a jeep that was stolen from the home during the attack.
“I don’t wish what happened to them on anybody,” he said. “There has to be a way I can show the court, the world, everybody I’m not that person.”