'Dinnertime Bandit' convicted of burglaries

August 20, 2008 2:52:09 PM PDT
The man dubbed the "Dinnertime Bandit" was convicted Wednesday of robbing upscale homes in the evening, while residents were home and had turned off their alarms. The jurors convicted Alan Golder of kidnapping, two counts of burglary and one count of larceny. He was acquitted of two counts each of burglary and larceny.

In a prison interview in February, Golder told The Associated Press that he burglarized hundreds of homes from 1975 to 1980, including those of Johnny Carson, the Kennedys in Florida and singer Glen Campbell.

"I liked the planning," Golder said. "I liked the execution. I liked the reward."

He went to prison after a fatal shooting but returned to burglarizing homes soon after he was released in 1996.

Prosecutors said Golder scaled mansion walls wearing a black "ninja"-type suit and hood, slipped through second-floor windows during dinnertime and stole precious jewels and property worth nearly $1 million from wealthy homes in Greenwich and Darien in 1996 and 1997. In one case, he tied up a woman in her Greenwich home.

He fled in 1997 and lived in Europe before being arrested in Belgium in 2006 and extradited to Connecticut.

The 53-year-old showed little reaction after the verdicts were announced. Golder's bond was kept at $3 million, and sentencing is set for Oct. 24.

An alleged accomplice, Robert Liebman, testified during the trial that he drove Golder to Greenwich twice and fenced jewelry stolen in burglaries.

Defense attorney Howard Ehring had suggested that Liebman, who served five years in prison for robbery, might have committed the Greenwich burglaries and framed Golder.

Ehring was not immediately available for comment after the verdict.

In 1978, real estate developer Lawrence Lever was fatally shot at his New York home by an accomplice of Golder's during a break-in. Golder served 15 years in prison and was paroled in June 1996.

The Connecticut thefts began three months after Golder's release. Prosecutors had argued the Connecticut burglaries bore his signature style.

Golder faces 10 to 65 years in prison for the Connecticut convictions and faces a parole violation charge in New York. That means he could spend the rest of his life in prison after leading a life of adventure while on the run in Europe.

"I was living so good over there," Golder said during the prison interview. "My heart aches when I lay in bed and think of Paris."

The kidnapping conviction stemmed from a Greenwich burglary in which the victim, Patricia Solari, was jumped by an intruder when she went into a bedroom in October 1997 around dinnertime. She testified that the intruder, dressed in what appeared to be a blue ski outfit, seemed as startled as she, saying, "Why did you have to come in the bedroom?"

After stealing her jewelry, she said, the intruder tied her up with her husband's neck ties. After she protested, he agreed not to put her in the basement or a closet, then fled in her Jaguar.

"I'm thrilled," Solari said Wednesday of the verdict. "I'm just so happy the jury did the right thing. Now I'll be able to sleep at night and not worry."

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