Sources told the New York Daily News that Kendel Felix, 26, has admitted killing Menachem Stark and told police two friends participated. Both were being questioned by police.
Felix allegedly told police the trio wanted to rob Stark and accidentally suffocated him when he tried to get away from them.
“They weren't thinking about killing him,” the source said.
Felix was charged Wednesday, almost four months after Stark's body was found in Great Neck.
Stark was a major property owner in Brooklyn, and Felix, employed by a construction contractor hired to work on his buildings, apparently believed he was rich. In fact, he was deep in debt.
The developer was also a member of Brooklyn's close-knit Hasidic Jewish community.
"Today is bittersweet," said Rabbi David Niederman, head of the United Jewish Organizations in the Williamsburg neighborhood. "Bitter because Menachem is no longer with us and he is forever missed, sweet that the law enforcement community has made an arrest in this heinous crime."
Investigators said Felix and his alleged accomplices had trouble getting rid of the body. A winter storm stopped them from driving to the far reaches of Long Island to dump it, and they got stuck in the snow at one point as they drove around Great Neck looking for a spot.
The body was set on fire and was still smoldering when it was found.