FBI agents Monday were at the home of gangster Robert "Bobby the Cook" Gentile, the top person of interest in the quarter-century effort to recover masterpieces stolen from Boston's Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum.
Agents set up a tent in the front yard of the Frances Drive home, where they have previous spent time digging. Local police blocked off the street, where Gentile owns a small brown ranch.
Agents arrived in about 15 cars, with two search dogs and three trucks with heavy equipment. The U.S. Attorney's office in Connecticut had no comment on the search.
Gentile's lawyer, Ryan McGuigan, said FBI has not showed him a warrant or give him a reason for the search.
Gentile is currently facing a federal gun charge that he claims the FBI contrived to force him to reveal the location of $500 million in masterworks.
In January, federal prosecutor John H. Durham recited in court some of the evidence collected by the FBI team working the baffling robbery at the Gardner Museum.
Durham said Gentile, 79, and mob partner Robert Guarente tried, but failed, to use the return of two stolen Gardner pieces to obtain a reduction in a prison sentence imposed on a Guarente associate. Durham revealed no additional detail, but knowledgeable sources said the beneficiary of the effort was to have been David Turner, who is serving 38 years for conspiring to rob an armored car.
While he was confined in a federal prison in Rhode Island on drug and gun charges in 2013 and 2014, Durham said, Gentile told at least three people that he had knowledge of the stolen Gardner art.
Durham confirmed a Courant report that Guarente's wife told Gardner investigators early in 2015 that her husband once had possession of stolen Gardner art and transferred two paintings to Gentile before Guarente died from cancer in 2004.
Also, Durham said Gardner investigators had reason to suspect Gentile since 2015, when he submitted to a polygraph examination and denied having advance knowledge of the Gardner heist, ever possessing a Gardner painting or knowing the location of any of the stolen paintings. The result showed a likelihood of less than 0.1 percent that he was truthful. Gentile claims the examination was conducted improperly.
On the night of March 18, 1990, two thieves disguised as Boston police officers entered the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum and stole 13 works of art valued at about $500 million. The FBI and the U.S. Attorney's Office continue to investigate, and the museum offers a $5 million reward for information leading to the artworks' recovery.