FBI officer testifies Konias ‘was weeping' during interrogation

by: Adam Brandolph, TribLIVE Updated:

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PITTSBURGH —

Investigators found a single suitcase in unit No. 388 of building J in the Public Storage facility along the South Dixie Highway in Pompano Beach, Fla.

It was the only item found in the five-by-nine-foot unit leased to Lucien Nadet about a week earlier.

(This article was written by Adam Brandolph, a staff writer for Channel 11’s news exchange partners at TribLIVE.)

“It was extremely heavy,” FBI Special Agent Jason Kaelin testified Wednesday. “It was literally filled to capacity with bundles of $20 bills in rubber bands.”

Authorities say the suitcase contained slightly more than $1 million, money that prosecutors say Ken Konias Jr. stole from a Garda Cash Logistics Truck after killing his armored-car partner weeks earlier.

Konias, 23, of Dravosburg faces homicide and burglary charges related to the execution-style slaying of Michael Haines, 31, of East McKeesport, on Feb. 28, 2012, and escaping to Florida with $2.3 million.

Wednesday marked the fourth day of Konias' non-jury trial before Allegheny County Common Pleas Judge David Cashman, who heard testimony from Kaelin and FBI Task Force Officer Gerard Starkey, one of the lead agents who helped track Konias to Pompano Beach, and arrest and interrogate him.

“Mr. Konias was shaking... uncontrollably. He was weeping,” said Starkey, who conducted the initial interview of Konias inside his car. “He was weeping.”

Charles LoPresti, Konias' defense attorney, went over the agent's five-hour interview with Konias hours after his arrest about midnight on April 23, 2012.

Konias, Starkey said, talked throughout the early-morning hours of April 24 inside the Broward County Sheriff's Office, where Konias told him he shot Haines in self-defense because Haines threw a handheld device used to scan bags of money at the back of his head. Konias said Haines drew his gun first, he kicked it out of his hand and he shot Haines as he reached for it again.

“He said he believed Haines would have shot him if he was able to retrieve the gun,” Starkey said.

After the shooting, Konias told Starkey he panicked, got scared and “just wanted to get away.” He hid thousands of dollars for his parents and a friend to find before fleeing to Florida.

During the interview with Starkey, Konias went with FBI agents to a meeting with Roger Beauchamp, a cab driver friend who had helped Konias get prostitutes and procure false identification under several names, including Lucien Nadet. Police found in the trunk of Beauchamp's cab a small suitcase containing $30,000 in $20 bills, Air Jordan shoes and some clothes. Beauchamp led police to another $104,000 he hid under the vanity of his bathroom.

At the house Konias rented from an alleged pimp named John Flowers, investigators said they found Konias' and Haines' fully-loaded .9mm Glock handguns behind a refrigerator in a back bedroom. In the bedroom Konias slept in, they found a backpack containing a Rolex watch, information about his storage unit, a ticket stub for “The Hunger Games” movie on April 9, two .9mm magazines and a bottle of cologne -- Gucci Guilty.

Adam Brandolph is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-391-0927 or abrandolph@tribweb.com.