When the airplane's wheels left the ground, Patrick Allocco could finally rest.
Allocco and his son, Patrick Jr., had been held in Angola since New Year's Eve on fraud accusations. But the Morris Township men were released Friday night after their travel ban was lifted and American embassy officials escorted them on a flight to Lisbon.
"Patrick and I arrived to an unforgettable sunrise over Europe," the elder Allocco wrote on the "Free the Alloccos" Facebook page around 4 a.m. Saturday. "We are safe and, as you can probably imagine, very excited about the next leg of our journey home. It took an incredulous amount of effort by so many people to get us out of Angola last night. We just want to say thank you to them. When the wheels went up, the weight of the world was off of our shoulders. We slept into the sunrise."
The two were expected to land in Newark Satuday, according to TMZ, which first reported their release.
Patrick Allocco is CEO of Allgood Entertainment in Convent Station.
"This is certainly a happy day for the Allocco family," U.S. Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-11th Dist.) said in a statement. "I know their family and friends are looking forward to welcoming them back to the United States and we thank our Ambassador in Luanda, Christopher McMullen, and his embassy team for their efforts for over a month."
"This is great, great news," Morris Township Deputy Mayor Bruce Sisler said.
The Alloccos' departure marks the end of a 49-day ordeal which began when rapper Nas and opening act Jeremiah Jai failed to show up for a pair of New Year's Eve weekend concerts in Luanda, Angola's captial.
Local concert promoter Henrique “Riquhino” Miguel had wired Allocco $300,000 to secure Nas. Miguel became enraged when Nas was a no-show, which led to the Alloccos' arrest and hours-long interrogation by Angolan authorities before U.S. Embassy officials stepped in and brought the pair to a Luanda hotel.
Though Nas returned the money weeks ago, Allocco said the Angolan concert promoter still wanted $75,000 in lost expenses.
The pair faced trouble during their stay, including a pair of rebuffs by the embassy for refuge, a fight between the younger Allocco and locals and, according to a post on the "Free the Alloccos" Facebook page Tuesday, a depletation of funds.
Sisler said efforts to release the pair stepped up in a big way Wednesday.
"He was basically out of money on Wednesday," Sisler said. "He was going to have to leave his hotel. And on Wednesday he was allegedly brought to the embassy and the embassy and State Department took over from there, did negotiations and got involved heavily."
Patrick Allocco Sr. still owes the concert promoter $75,000, Sisler said. Friends are in the process of creating a "Free the Alloccos" non-profit to help the family pay for the expenses they incurred while in Angola, Sisler said.
A voicemail left Patrick Allocco Sr.'s cell phone late Friday night went unreturned.
This is a breaking news story. Stick with Patch for updates.