Pa. armored car suspect's Florida trek unexplained

AP News
Posted: Apr 24, 2012 5:46 PM
Pa. armored car suspect's Florida trek unexplained

Now that the armored car guard accused of killing his partner and making off with more than $2 million has been arrested in Florida, federal and local officials in Pittsburgh are trying to figure out how the suspect eluded police for eight weeks and wound up in what some authorities referred to as a "crack house."

Investigators recovered between $1.3 million and $1.5 million from the Pompano Beach home where Kenneth Konias Jr., 22, was arrested and in an unspecified storage locker he told them about nearby, according to Special Agent-In-Charge Michael Rodriguez of the Pittsburgh FBI office.

A Florida resident called Pittsburgh police Monday night to say they knew where Konias was staying. He was arrested by Florida FBI agents, Broward County Sheriff's deputies and others shortly after midnight.

Rodriguez didn't detail the tip that led to Konias' arrest, except to say he'd "confided in several individuals" after arriving in Florida. Rodriguez couldn't say when Konias arrived in that state, but authorities believe he drove to the Miami area first.

"I think he may have made the admission that he was remorseful about his activity, some of his activities, in Pittsburgh," Rodriguez said.

Veda Coleman-Wright, a spokeswoman for the Broward County, Fla. Sheriff's Office, said the home is considered a "crack house" where drug users regularly gathered.

Shirley Hallman, 76, of Wilton Manors, Fla., told The Associated Press that she and her husband, Fay, 83, have rented out the house since he inherited it several years ago and provided the tenant's name and phone number.

Shirley Hallman said she's not aware of problems at the home, except for an incident, the date of which she couldn't recall, when someone "really wrecked up our place" during a dispute over a baby born there.

Rodriguez said FBI agents and others who arrested Konias found no evidence of drug use in the house and were still unsure how and why Konias wound up there.

Konias' parents didn't return calls for comment, but their attorney, Charles LoPresti said they were "very relieved that nobody, including their own son, is in danger now that the search is done."

LoPresti doesn't officially represent Konias, who had a federal public defender with him when he waived his right to an extradition hearing before a federal magistrate in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., Tuesday.

Konias had two handguns with him _ one a "personal" weapon, the other supplied by Garda Cash Logistics. Rodriguez said Konias "indicated that was the weapon he used" when he robbed the truck and fatally shot fellow guard Michael Haines, of East McKeesport, on Feb. 28.

LoPresti said he hasn't spoken to Konias and can't say what he might have told authorities.

"I certainly would not dispute anything the FBI is saying," he said.

U.S. Attorney David Hickton said federal marshals are expected to bring Konias back to Pittsburgh within a week. Hickton said he'll confer with Allegheny County prosecutors and Pittsburgh police to determine whether Konias will be prosecuted in state court or federally.

Konias is charged by Pittsburgh police with criminal homicide, theft and robbery and by federal authorities with committing a Hobbs Act robbery and discharging a firearm in a crime of violence.

Although federal authorities do not have a specific homicide statute, Konias could be charged in Haines' death under a different section of the firearms charge. Like the state homicide charge, the federal count carries either life in prison or the death penalty upon conviction.

Pittsburgh auto squad detectives said the Garda armored car was left idling under a bridge. Inside, they found Haines shot in the back of the head and his duty pistol missing _ along with Konias and $2.3 million.

Video surveillance showed Konias speeding out of the Garda headquarters parking lot just before 1:30 p.m. and police said they found blood on his uniform jacket at his parents' home in Dravosburg, where they said he stopped briefly after work.

A friend later told police Konias had called about 1:05 p.m. to say, "I (screwed) up. My life is over" and eventually acknowledged he had killed someone. Konias urged the friend to run away with him, claiming "he had enough money to live on for the rest of their lives," according to an FBI affidavit.

Authorities have previously said they recovered about $275,000 at Konias' home and at the nearby grave of a relative.

But Rodriguez couldn't immediately explain Konias' Florida link.

"We've been getting leads from all over the country," he said. "This one panned out."


AP Legal Affairs Writer Curt Anderson in Miami contributed to this report.