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Kissels Of Death


From left, Andrew, Jane, and Robert at a marina; Andrew Kissel; Robert Kissel.  

To some, Andrew’s obvious success suggested financial savvy. By 1995, he was serving as the co-op’s treasurer. For convenience he had bills and bank statements sent directly to him. Also, perhaps, for convenience, he became the only person who signed off on checks for the co-op.

To most, Andrew seemed to do a fine job; he was famously attentive to detail. Soon, though, some people began to wonder why the modest building spent more than $1 million to redo the lobby and hallways, as the financial report indicated.

“Anyone who thought about it would know that a million dollars of work hadn’t been done,” says one resident, Michael Assael, a lawyer and CPA.

In 2002, Assael got himself elected to the board and joined the finance committee. Andrew chaired it and recruited his neighbor David Parisier, who, after an introduction from Rob, became Andrew’s partner in Hanrock that same year.

Assael bombarded Andrew with questions.

“You’re an evil man, and I would say that you’ll get what you deserve,” Hayley said to Bill. Then she remembered his son had been murdered. “Well, you already got what you deserve.”

Andrew’s answers were short, deflecting, impatient. “To some people on the board, Andrew seemed sophisticated,” says Assael. “To me, he was a big phony baloney.” Assael’s tone grew increasingly aggressive. “Are you sure our accountant didn’t mix our co-op’s invoices up with Manhattan House?” he asked in one e-mail, referring to one of the fancier buildings in the neighborhood.

Then at one finance meeting in 2003, Assael remembers, “Andrew knew we caught him.”

“I just want to get this over with,” Andrew told the committee. “I think I need some Valium.”

Andrew, it turned out, had created fake companies, paid them inflated fees for work, and transferred the profits to his own bank account. He had also opened up a line of credit for the co-op. He had forged signatures, cut-and-pasted bank statements, and eventually borrowed $2 million under the co-op’s name.

Andrew’s motivation was puzzling. After all, he seemed to be making good money in New Jersey, where his company controlled millions of dollars of property. He mentioned to Parisier something about a cash-flow crunch. Eventually, Andrew reached a confidential settlement with the co-op and coughed up $4.7 million.

In February 2003, Andrew had moved to Greenwich; Hayley stayed behind with their two kids until the school year finished. Hayley told friends that she didn’t know why Andrew made a sudden exit. She said she didn’t hear of the scandal till May. Even when Andrew transferred title of their Vermont house to Hayley a couple of days after the co-op’s May audit, Hayley’s only thought was that she loved the Vermont house and loved having it in her name. “Wives don’t know,” she told a friend. When Hayley finally found out about the scandal, she began sneaking down ten flights of stairs to avoid her neighbors.

Hayley sometimes said she believed that “underneath all the crap, there was a core Andrew that wanted to be a good person.” Unfortunately, it was hard to see. Maybe it was because of his mood swings, or his cocaine use, which several friends recalled. Andrew could seem wired or else retreat into the TV. Emotionally, he didn’t always participate; occasionally, he didn’t even show up. One friend remembers that he’d miss dates—sometimes he’d stand up Hayley. Hayley, who liked therapeutic explanations, told a friend that Andrew suffered from bipolar moods, addictive personality, low self-esteem, or, as she sometimes summed it up, “too much baggage.” She blamed his childhood. These were among the reasons, as Hayley saw it, that their marriage had been problematic for years. And so she said she didn’t mind when Andrew decamped for Connecticut.

Greenwich is a place where people go to be wealthy, and Andrew quickly made himself at home. By June, when Hayley and the two kids joined him, he seemed to have put New York behind him. He’d sold the 74th Street apartment at a huge profit and rented a giant house in Greenwich. It had a swimming pool and a large piece of land and cost $14,000 a month. In short order, Andrew appeared to be a leading citizen of Greenwich.

Just as Andrew seemed to outdistance his financial entanglements, trouble of a more ominous sort descended on Rob. For years, Rob and his wife acted like a great, fun couple. Nancy hadn’t been wild about moving to Hong Kong, and Rob worked grueling hours and traveled constantly. But he earned tons, and they had a lavish lifestyle. Merrill Lynch paid $20,000 a month to house them in an exclusive expat development; it was like a resort, with three swimming pools. And Nancy, who came from a modest background, loved the money. She was like Andrew in that way. “The more money she got, the more she wanted to spend it,” says one of her best friends.


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