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

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Mobster Linked To Gardner Art Theft Hit With Weapons Charges

The ConcertThe ConcertFederal prosecutors have filed weapons charges against mobster Robert Gentile, adding to the potential prison sentence faced by a man authorities believe may have information about the world's most sensational art heist, the theft of 13 masterworks from Boston's Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum.
The U.S. Attorney's office said Monday that a federal grand jury has returned a new indictment based on a variety of weapons seized during a search in February of the 75-year-old Gentile's home in Manchester. A federal judge said in February that Gentile's home contained a "veritable arsenal."
In Gentile's basement and in a backyard shed, FBI agents found pistols, a shotgun, silencers, a variety of ammunition, brass knuckles and a sap, among other things.
Gentile's lawyer, A. Ryan McGuigan, called Gentile "a sick old man" and said federal authorities have charged him in a mistaken belief that he can be pressured to reveal information about the unsolved museum heist 22 years ago. McGuigan said Gentile was not involved in the robbery and knows nothing about it or what happened to the stolen art.
The FBI searched Gentile's home on Feb. 10 in connection with his arrest and the arrest of associate Robert Parente, 75, for possession and sale of prescription painkillers such as Oxycontin, Percocet and Dilaudid. Only Gentile has been charged with weapons crimes.
Since both men are convicted felons, they face enhanced prison sentences if convicted of the drug charges.
In the new indictment, Gentile also faces enhanced sentences as a convicted felon in possession of weapons.
He is accused of being a felon in possession of three pistols, a felon in possession of multiple rounds of various kinds of ammunition, including .12-gauge shotgun shells, and possession of four home-made silencers, devices designed to muffle the reports of firearms.
The gun, ammunition and silencer charges carry sentences of up to 10 years. Gentile also faces as much as 20 years on the previously filed drug charges.
A federal judge has called Gentile a threat to public safety and ordered him held without bail while awaiting trial.
The art theft from the Gardner Museum in Boston on March 18, 1990, devastated the art world, and the inability of investigators around the world to find even a hint of the stolen paintings has become an enduring mystery.
Among the pieces stolen were three Rembrandts, a Vermeer, a Manet and five drawings by Degas. Two of the paintings — "Storm on the Sea of Galilee," Rembrandt's only known seascape, and Vermeer's "The Concert" — each could be worth than more $50 million in an open market. All the stolen pieces might be worth a total of $500 million or more.
At least two thieves were involved in the theft. They dressed as police officers and used the uniforms to trick one of two museum guards into opening a door at about 1:30 a.m., the end of St. Patrick's Day celebrations in Boston.
During one of Gentile's appearances in court since his arrest, federal prosecutors said one or more police uniforms where found with the drugs, weapons and cash hidden in Gentile's modest ranch-style home.
The Gardner thieves bound the museum guards with duct tape and, less than 90 minutes later, drove away into the night in a red car. There has been one lead in 22 years, according to the museum. It went nowhere.
"The government has reason to believe that Mr. Gentile had some involvement with stolen property out of the District of Massachusetts," Assistant U.S. Attorney John Durham said in U.S. District Court in Hartford on March 27, during Gentile's second, unsuccessful attempt to win release on bond.
McGuigan said Gentile knows nothing about the stolen art and has been targeted by FBI agents frustrated over the inability to find the stolen paintings.
"What is happening, Your Honor, is that the government is asking you to set a punitive bond, to keep him uncomfortable, to torture him," McGuigan said. "He unfortunately doesn't have the information that the government is looking for. But the government believes he does."
Gentile has been a player in the Connecticut rackets for years, according to police and other sources. He has an arrest record dating to the 1950s, mostly on minor state charges. He served a six-month sentence, once.
Associates believe that if Gentile had even the faintest idea of the location of the paintings, he would have tried to trade it for the $5 million reward years ago.
Law enforcement records and other sources indicate that, during the 1990s, Gentile was associated with a mob crew in the Boston area that at least one FBI informant has linked him to the Gardner heist. Law enforcement and other sources have said that Gentile is known to have met after the theft with a gangster suspected of once having access to the stolen paintings.
In the late 1990s, Gentile became a sworn member of a Boston-based crew of the dominant mafia group in Philadelphia, law enforcement and other sources said.
Durham said during the hearing in federal court in March that Gentile was associated with a crew active in Boston and led by capo Robert Luisi, but associated with Philadelphia's mafia family. It was Luisi who "made" Gentile by inducting him into the Philadelphia family, Durham said in court.
When Luisi was arrested and confronted with a long prison sentence for selling cocaine about a decade ago, he implicated Gentile and other alleged members of his crew in a long list of criminal activity, Durham said.



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