He stole from his tech boss and killed him to conceal the crime


A file photo of Haspil, 21, in police custody in New York on July 17, 2020, after he was arrested and charged in the murder of tech entrepreneur Fahim Saleh, who was who was found decapitated and dismembered in his Manhattan apartment. — The New York Times

NEW YORK: Just days after the body of Fahim Saleh, a successful tech entrepreneur, was found dismembered in his luxury condominium in Manhattan in July 2020, his former personal assistant, Tyrese Haspil, made a series of unsettling web searches.

“Fahim Saleh.” “Murder of tech C.E.O. in New York.” “Dismembered body.”

The search queries were just some of the chilling details that emerged during Haspil’s murder trial this month in Manhattan Criminal Court. And on Monday jurors convicted him of stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars from Saleh – and then killing him and cutting up his body in an effort to conceal what he had done.

Haspil, 25, of Brooklyn, is expected to be sentenced Sept 10.

“Tyrese Haspil tragically cut Mr Saleh’s life short – a man who came from a close-knit immigrant family and followed his passions to become a successful entrepreneur,” said Alvin Bragg, the Manhattan district attorney, in a statement announcing the conviction Monday. “I hope the accountability delivered by today’s verdict can provide a measure of comfort to Mr Saleh’s loved ones as they continue to mourn his loss.”

Saleh, 33, was born in Saudi Arabia to Bangladeshi parents and grew up in Poughkeepsie, New York. He was the founder of two motorcycle ride-sharing companies, based in Bangladesh and Nigeria, the latter of which raised millions in venture capital. After his death, he was remembered as an innovative businessman and a generous friend.

Sam Roberts, Haspil’s lawyer, said Monday that he was disappointed by the verdict. He acknowledged that Haspil had committed the crime and said the killer felt remorse. “We hope that the court will understand that there are mitigating factors here,” Roberts said.

Haspil’s ill-fated scheme began in the fall of 2018, when he was working as Saleh’s entrepreneurial assistant and began stealing money from his companies to purchase lavish gifts for his new girlfriend.

By December, Haspil had created a bogus corporate entity and bank account into which he funnelled more money.

In May 2019, fearing he would be discovered, Haspil resigned from his position as Saleh’s assistant, though he continued to steal money in increasingly large amounts even after his departure, prosecutors said.

Sure enough, in January 2020, Haspil’s scheme was detected. Saleh confronted Haspil over a US$35,000 (RM164,710) debt, prosecutors said, and offered to settle it with a two-year repayment plan, instead of bringing criminal charges against him.

Haspil agreed. But Saleh did not know that Haspil had stolen far more from him in a different scheme, involving a fraudulent PayPal account. Haspil began paying him back with those stolen funds even as he continued operating that scheme, eventually amassing about US$400,000 (RM1.88mil) in stolen funds, prosecutors said.

Concerned that his more lucrative theft would also be discovered, Haspil began plotting to kill Saleh to prevent him from testifying against him in any criminal proceedings, prosecutors said.

What followed was a meticulously researched and executed killing that some investigators theorised at the time had been planned by Haspil to look like a professional assassination.

Haspil spent weeks researching the technology, weapons and cleaning supplies needed to carry out and cover up a homicide, prosecutors said. He purchased clothing to conceal his identity, and he tracked Saleh’s whereabouts on social media in preparation.

That May, Haspil decided to murder Saleh in his home and made two more web searches – for the anatomy of the human neck, and for Saleh’s building plans. In June, he purchased contractor-grade trash bags, a Swiffer floor cleaning tool and a saw.

Then, early in the morning of July 13, Haspil entered Saleh’s Manhattan apartment building wearing a black suit and an opaque face mask. He followed Saleh into an elevator, which opened directly into his apartment, subdued him with a Taser and fatally stabbed him.

He left the apartment and returned the following day to dismember Saleh’s body with an electric saw, but left again to purchase a battery charger. While he was out, Saleh’s cousin went to check on him and discovered the scene.

Haspil was arrested four days after the murder at an Airbnb he had booked for his girlfriend’s birthday celebration. – The New York Times

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