The four-month-long hunt for whoever killed L&B Spumoni Gardens co-owner Lou Barbati in cold blood could at last be over. Yesterday, the FBI arrested a 41-year-old man named Andres Fernandez and charged him with Barbati’s murder and attempted robbery. Agents say that he matches the man seen lurking outside Barbati’s home on surveillance video, and that his cell-phone location data puts him at the crime scene on that day in June.
The horrific crime has upended the family and local community, but also made waves because of the odd circumstances surrounding it: As the Times explains today, the FBI took the case from the NYPD at some undefined point and assigned it to an agent tasked with investigating the Mafia. Barbati’s sister says the idea of mob ties stems from dumb stereotypes about the Brooklyn Italian community. The Feds don’t allege a connection to organized crime either, but they claim Fernandez knew Barbati was carrying $15,000 in cash that day, yet took none of it after allegedly firing five bullets into him before fleeing in an Acura registered in his name. It’s also bizarre that Fernandez managed to evade arrest for more than 120 days. The charges make him eligible for the death penalty if he’s convicted.