Widow of man accused of killing Westport jeweler sues over life insurance claim
Updated 4:27 pm, Monday, January 13, 2014
The widow of the man accused of killing a local jeweler and stealing $300,000 worth of gems from his Post Road East store in 2011 is suing a Delaware company over her inability to collect on her husband's life insurance.
The Associated Press reported Monday that Alicia Alban -- the widow of Andrew Robert Levene, also known as Robert Thomas -- claims Diamond State Financial Group failed to correct inaccuracies in insurance policies on her late husband worth $5 million. Alban claims the inaccuracies resulted in Minnesota Life Insurance Co. refusing to pay.
Levene was found hanged in a prison in Barcelona, Spain, in January 2012, when he was captured following a months-long, international search after the Dec. 8, 2011, fatal shooting of Yekutiel Zeevi, the 65-year-old owner of Y.Z. Jewelry in the Compo Shopping Center.
In addition to killing Zeevi, a native of the Tel Aviv area in Israel, Levene was accused of wounding one of Zeevi's business associates during the nighttime robbery and then fleeing with the gems, most of which were diamonds, according to sources. Levene was facing federal murder, robbery and firearms charges when he was captured in Spain, where he had moved his family months before the incident.
Levene was found dead in his cell at the Modelo prison in Barcelona -- an apparent suicide -- only two days after he was taken into custody in January 2012.
A 41-year-old former Army Ranger, Levene -- who at one time lived in West Haven -- had personal debt of more than a half-million dollars when he was arrested.
A telephone message seeking comment from the Delaware firm was not immediately returned Monday, the AP said.
Zeevi was a native of the Tel Aviv area in Israel and a former Israeli navy commando. He and his wife Nava immigrated to the U.S. soon after they married in 1971. In Westport, he and his wife raised their son, Neer, and daughter, Tali. He crafted custom jewelry at the business he founded, Y.Z. Jewelry, an enterprise that he ran for about 30 years.
Levene spent much of his early years in Woodbridge and, from some accounts, was a "brilliant, gifted and bright students." He graduated in 1988 from Loomis Chaffee, an exclusive boarding school in Windsor and enlisted in the U.S. Army in 1992. A number of websites refer to his time in the military and some biographies say he was promoted to specialist then to sergeant at Fort Bragg, N.C., and was placed in charge of a reconnaissance team for two years.
However, at least one account of his military service -- a document received by a police chief in Colorado who was investigating a 2008 arson that destroyed a $5 million home Levene had built -- said Levene enlisted in May 7, 1992, in Springfield Mass. and was discharged from Fort Benning Ga. in August 1992.
That document had no mention of Levene being a sergeant or a Ranger.
Following his stint in the military, Levene became involved in real estate developments and reportedly used a few dozen different addresses for himself from Connecticut to Colorado.
Levene purchased two properties in Crested Butte, Colorado, a ski resort area at the foot of the Rockies. One sold for millions while the other burned down. The cause of that fire -- at 103 Bear Scratch Road -- was ruled an arson and authorities, at that time, believed Levene was involved.
Levene purchased the vacant lot at 103 Bear Scratch Road for $1.19 million in 2006, according to court documents. After it burned down, Levene and his wife, Alicia, sued American International Group, Inc. in Colorado federal court, accusing their insurer of breach of contract by failing to pay for the full $5 million plus loss.
Levene was also sued in connection with that property by an Ohio couple who claimed they were bilked out of their share of the insurance proceeds after investing $445,000 in the project. The plan was to build an 8,000 square foot home and the title was to be placed in a limited liability corporation in the couple's name, but that never happened.
After a time, Levene began to experience financial problems and as his debts increased, he transferred ownership of the house he owned in Nantucket with his wife to Starbuck House, LLC, an entity created in September 2010 by Alicia Levene.
That house was sold just prior to the Westport robbery in a short sale for $1.25 million, according to published reports.
Before Zeevi's death, the last murder in town took place in 1996 when an administrative assistant at Temple Israel was shot and killed by her estranged husband in Temple Israel's religious school offices. The man then turned the gun on himself.
Zeevi had been a member of the same synagogue.
The last robbery-homicide in town took place in the early 1980s at a Chinese restaurant on Post Road East.
Neither Zeevi's wife, Nava, who lives in town, nor their son, Neer, could be reached Monday for comment.