Vermeer's The Concert

Vermeer's The Concert

Wednesday, September 06, 2017

Stolen Art Watch, Gardner Art Heist, Bobby "The Cook" Gentile Sentencing Delayed

 

Feds Say Gentile Feigning Mental Issues, But Gangster's Sentencing Postponed

The sentencing on gun charges of Robert "The Cook" Gentile, suspected of hiding information about the world's richest art heist, was postponed Tuesday after his lawyer questioned the Hartford mobster's competency and a prosecutor accused Gentile of faking dementia to avoid another long prison sentence.
The 81-year-old Gentile's mental state has become a recurring issue in recent years, as FBI agents have hit him repeatedly with drug and gun charges, pressing him — without success — for information that could lead to recovery of $500 million in art stolen in 1990 from Boston's Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum.
His lawyer, A. Ryan McGuigan, said Gentile — who has been locked up for most of the last five years — has displayed signs of dementia as his physical health has deteriorated in jail. On Tuesday, McGuigan said Gentile could not remember having pleaded guilty in April to the gun charges and became angry when told he had.
McGuigan asked that the sentencing be postponed while Gentile is evaluated to determine whether he understands the charges against him and is able to assist in his defense. U.S. Judge Robert N. Chatigny delayed sentencing, but said he will decide how to proceed at a later date.

Federal prosecutor John Durham said in court Tuesday that Gentile sounds as if he was in complete control of his faculties a month ago, when he was recorded on a telephone call to his wife from the state jail in Bridgeport, where he has been held since last spring.

Durham said Gentile was able to explain during the conversation why and how he would be sentenced and asked his wife to have money deposited in his prison commissary account. Then, in a loaded disclosure almost buried in the argument over competence, Durham said Gentile also told his wife that "he knows where one of the paintings is" and wanted to talk to his lawyer about it.
Durham refused to elaborate afterward on what he called Gentile's reference to a painting. The prosecution offered twice to play the recording in court, but Chatigny chose not to.
Outside of court, McGuigan attributed his client's reference to "one of the paintings" to an almost laughable string of statements that began with an unsupported assertion by one of Gentile's fellow inmates — the kind of assertion McGuigan claims follow Gentile, whose mafia membership and ties to the notorious Gardner heist have made him a prison celebrity.

McGuigan said that the fellow inmate approached Gentile in jail in August and claimed to have seen what appeared to have been a stolen painting somewhere in upstate New York six years ago.
"Someone approached him about a painting," McGuigan said. "He called his wife to say he found the painting and needed to talk to me."
McGuigan and others said they believe the painting to which Gentile referred is not one of the 13 missing Gardner pieces — if it even exits.
Last year, Chatigny ordered a competency evaluation after McGuigan raised similar concerns. Gentile was judged competent, but the report by a prison psychologist said his mental ability to understand and participate in his defense could deteriorate if his physical condition worsened.
No long afterward, Gentile collapsed late last summer in a Rhode Island hospital and nearly died. He regained his health after a long recuperation at a federal prison hospital and was transferred last spring to a state jail in Bridgeport with a nursing facility.
Since his transfer to Bridgeport, Gentile's physical health seems to have again deteriorated. He is wildly overweight and was rolled in and out of court in a wheelchair.
The discussion of what to do about Gentile Tuesday turned on another notorious case, that of Vincent "The Chin" Gigante, the former boss of New York's Genovese crime family who became infamous for wandering around his Greenwich Village neighborhood in pajamas and a bathrobe.
Gigante claimed he was demented. The government claimed he was faking. Chatigny said in court Tuesday that Gigante's judge decided he was somewhat incompetent, but not sufficiently so to avoid being sentenced. In a compromise, Gigante was ordered to serve a prison sentence at the medical center where Gentile recovered.
Chatigny said he will decide between two options for Gentile: Sentence him, as was the case with Gigante, to a specific sentence in a prison medical center. Or, alternately, order a competency evaluation and proceed from there. He asked the defense and prosecution to submit arguments on the question.
Gentile, whose arrest record dates to the Eisenhower administration, has been locked up for 41/2 of the past 51/2 years on a succession of drug and gun charges constructed by FBI agents pressing him — futilely, it has turned out — to cooperate with their Gardner investigation.
He has remained mute. He insists he knows nothing about the heist or the missing art — in spite of old age, dire health, a $10 million reward, lousy prison food and a growing body of evidence to the contrary, much of it consisting of his admissions recorded by FBI informants.
Whether he is released because of age and health or spends years more in prison, authorities could lose any leverage they have over a formerly obscure gangster who many believe once possessed, at least briefly, two of the stolen paintings and is sitting on information that could jump-start an investigation befuddled by a series of dead ends.
The FBI believes it has identified the two Boston hoodlums — both now dead — who broke into the museum early on March 18, 1990. Acting with inexplicable violence, they battered frames from gallery walls and tore away canvases. They drove off with 13 pieces, including Vermeer's "The Concert" and Rembrandt's only known seascape, "The Storm on the Sea of Galilee."
Gentile landed in the Gardner case 20 years later, in February 2010. It happened when investigators interviewed the widow of Robert Guarente, a Boston bank robber, drug dealer and, as it turned out, longtime Gentile associate.
Guarente had moved to Maine after his last prison sentence, for drug dealing, and died in 2004. In 2010, the Gardner investigators suspected that he had, at some point, obtained Gardner art from the gang that stole it. The investigators went to the Maine woods in search of clues.
Guarente's widow, Elene, stunned the investigators when, without being asked, she blurted out that her late husband once had two of the Gardner paintings and that she had been present at a Portland hotel when he passed the paintings to a longtime associate from Connecticut — Gentile.
Gentile, to that point, was hardly known. He had been ignored by organized crime investigators in Connecticut as a knock-around hoodlum, undeserving of a spot on law enforcement's priority list. Elene Guarente changed his life. He became a target of intense investigation. It was learned that, while no one was paying attention in the late 1990s, he and Guarente were inducted into the mafia as soldiers on the Philadelphia mob's Boston crew.
Not long after Elene Guarente's spontaneous declaration, the FBI issued a rare public statement demonstrating, at least obliquely, its interest in Gentile:
"The FBI believes with a high degree of confidence that in the years after the theft, the art was transported to Connecticut and the Philadelphia region, and some of the art was taken to Philadelphia, where it was offered for sale by those responsible for the theft. With that same confidence, we have identified the thieves, who are members of a criminal organization with a base in the mid-Atlantic states and New England."
In court and in interviews with The Courant, Gentile denies everything. He acknowledges that he and Guarente were pals for decades. He said they met at a used car auction in South Windsor. He said he visited Guarente in Maine repeatedly. But Gentile insists that neither he nor Guarente were members of the mafia. He said Guarente never had any Gardner paintings. Gentile said he certainly never had any and he has no idea who stole the art or what became of it.
No one was predicting last week what Gentile's sentence will be. The prosecution and defense filed memos with Chatigny outlining their respective positions. Such memos are routine and are often filed in public. They are sealed from public view, without explanation, like many other filings in the Gentile case.
A public legal filing shows that, under the advisory sentencing guidelines in federal court, Gentile faces as much as 89 more months in prison for the gun charges and for committing crimes while on supervised release from his previous conviction. However, the court has discretion to sentence Gentile beneath the guidelines if there is a strong argument about his age and declining health.

2 comments:

DXer (Ross) said...

I think that Elene [Guarente’s wife], Jeanine [daughter] and Early Berghman [contemporary] tried to return the paintings in late 2004 and/or early 2005 with the help of lawyer Bernie G., who had represented Earle’s son for biting off an officer’s ear. Jeanine was recruited by Bernard G. who had been involved by a different Berghman son from Providence.

Earle last was known to be in the Utica, NY homeless shelter or in Mohawk, NY. Jeanine, Robert Guarente’s daughter, is the one who I think knows — or having been her father’s confidante, she has info sufficient to lead to where the paintings are. In any event, with respect to the gun charge, Mr. Gentile should have had better sense and appreciated that he was under the FBI’s microscope. He should have been on his very best behavior. Maybe he will get off for time served.

In Madison, Maine, I’ve always wanted to find the white house that is up the hill past the quonset hut past the house with all the garden gnomes up on the hill at the curve. To get to the white house, you would then go out the road (on which you take a right). But I was unsuccessful in trying to find it and was very short on time during my brief visit. I’m told by the taxidermist down the road from the Guarente place that there was a coke bust that was hushed up in 1992 or so.

Also in Madison, ME, I’ve pointed to the concrete slab at the abandoned Guarente homestead. I have never heard that the FBI used ground penetrating radar or dug.

I do think the FBI could have been more active in its use of claw diggers — and not just sledge hammers. To include Gentile’s old used car lot (he was also in the concrete laying biz in 1992) in South Windsor, CT.

The site is on the main drag. The site definitely evidences digging and the eagle was once seen on the premises, as I recall. The small building there was razed the same time Elene discussed Gentile before the grand jury (according to the receptionist at the construction company across the interchange).

As for this last report, it is just as likely that the Feds are running another sting on these mooks. I’m advised that the report referencing “Upstate New York” doesn’t involve Mr. Berghman at all, despite his recent connection to Upstate New York.


Hurricane Irma, Harvey, North Korea etc. all underscore how truly unimportant these paintings are.

DXer (Ross) said...


Mysteries In The Museum: Crime And Deception In Art
By Lucy Nalpathanchil & Carmen Baskauf • 19 hours ago

http://wnpr.org/post/mysteries-museum-crime-and-deception-art