HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — FBI agents on Thursday searched the property of a reputed Connecticut mobster who is suspected of withholding information about an infamous unsolved art heist in Boston.
Dozens of agents dug in the yard and removed boxes of evidence from the ranch-style Manchester home of 75-year-old Robert Gentile, who has been detained since February on federal drug and weapons charges.
A lawyer for Gentile, A. Ryan McGuigan, said the FBI was searching his client’s property for a second time because the agency had a new warrant allowing the use of ground-penetrating radar to look for buried weapons. McGuigan said he believes agents are really looking for stolen paintings but will find no such thing.
“This is nonsense,” McGuigan said. “This is the FBI. Are you trying to tell me they missed something the first time? They’re trying to find $500 million of stolen artwork. … All they’re going to find is night crawlers.”
A federal prosecutor said in March the FBI believes Gentile had some involvement with stolen property related to the 1990 heist at Boston’s Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, the largest art robbery in history. Thieves stole masterworks by Rembrandt, Vermeer, Degas and Manet worth more than a half-billion dollars.
McGuigan said Gentile doesn’t know anything about the art heist.
A U.S. attorney’s office spokesman declined to comment. A message left with an FBI spokesman was not immediately returned.
Gentile was arrested three months ago on a charge of selling illegally obtained prescription painkillers. Federal agents say they seized three revolvers, numerous rounds of ammunition and home-made silencers during a Feb. 10 search of Gentile’s home.
Gentile was arraigned last month on weapons charges. He leaned on a cane as he slowly rose before a judge in federal court in Hartford to plead not guilty to three charges.
McGuigan has said prosecutors were “piling on” with the gun charges.
Gentile was convicted of larceny in 1996. Convicted felons may not possess firearms or ammunition that have been transported across state lines or from overseas. Federal law also prohibits possession of a silencer unless it’s been registered.
Each of the three charges carries a maximum prison term of 10 years and a fine of up to $250,000.
Authorities say FBI agents have had unproductive discussions with Gentile about the art theft.
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