Updated news on the Gambino, Genovese, Bonanno, Lucchese and Colombo Organized Crime Families of New York City.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Lawyer says reputed mobster is clueless in gardner art heist

A reputed Connecticut mobster federal investigators believe has key information on the decades-old theft of priceless paintings from the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum doesn’t have a clue who took them or where they are, as officials grill him on one of the world’s most baffling art heists, his lawyer said.
“He doesn’t know a Rembrandt from an Elvis velvet painting,” attorney Ryan McGuigan said of his client Robert Gentile, an overweight 75-year-old with chronic pain and a heart condition who prosecutors say has ties to crime families in Philadelphia and Boston. “My client can’t give any information he doesn’t have,” McGuigan said.
Federal authorities last month arrested Gentile and another man on charges of conspiring to sell prescription painkillers.
Gentile on Tuesday unsuccessfully argued for bail from the Wyatt Detention Center, where he’s being held, after prosecutors said they found a cache of weapons and $22,000 inside his Manchester, Conn., home.
In federal court, prosecutors acknowledged they believe Gentile knows something about the theft in 1990 of 13 masterworks, which carry a combined value of $500 million.
Museum officials declined to speak on the case, and FBI spokesman Greg Comcowich referred all questions on Gentile to the U.S. Attorney’s Office, which declined comment.
McGuigan said authorities have sought to speak with his client for years and suggested they orchestrated his arrest solely for that purpose. Now, he said, Gentile’s been made “extremely uncomfortable” in jail as investigators fail to get what they want.
“They’re treating him like a dog,” said Patricia Gentile, Robert Gentile’s wife, adding that she, too, has been questioned. “I don’t know anything about the pictures, and they keep thinking I do. But you know, it’s the FBI. They have the power.”
FBI officials said they continue to “aggressively” investigate the heist, cautioning that probes into missing art can take decades before attention wanes — when thieves try to flip the loot for cash.
“The problem with the Gardner paintings, they’re so famous and so valuable, they’ve remained in the forefront,” said FBI special agent Geoff Kelly, the case’s lead investigator.
“If you have one in your basement, you wouldn’t get $10 for it because it’s too hot,” he said.



Post a Comment