October 9, 2012

Tuesday, October 09, 2012 - No comments

Possible Federal Plea Deal for Leads on Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum Heist?

By Lynda Albertson, ARCA

Last February a reputed Genovese soldier Robert Gentile and his alleged long-time associate Andrew Parente were charged with trafficking prescription painkillers in Hartford, CT.  While searching Gentile’s Manchester home investigators found a cache of handcuffs, guns, explosives, a silencer and brass knuckles along with $22,000 in cash hidden inside a grandfather clock.

During that time Assistant U.S. Attorney John Durham reported that federal investigators had listened through telephone taps to conversations in which Gentile and Parente discussed their alleged drug business,  at one point implicating another reputed ganster, Anthony Volpe who the two felt was encroaching on their sales of Oxycontin.  Volpe, who died in 2010, was reported to be affiliated with the Genovese crime family who once controlled the gambling and extortion rackets that the group ran in Greater Hartford which included a network of hidden gambling parlors in the city's South End. 
Stolen from the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, 1990

Not nice men, by any standards, Gentile was also suspected of having some involvement with the long unsolved heist at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston.  The theft netted the thieves a Manet, five drawings by Degas, three Rembrandts and a Vermeer, making it the biggest museum art theft in history:  a theft so substantial that a $5 million reward has been offered for the recovery of the art, valued at more than $500 million. 

While Gentile, a reportedly made member of the Mafia, has long denied having any knowledge of the theft or of the locations of the paintings, Boston Herald journalist Laurel Sweet reported that it now seems that Parente may have decided it was worth his while to speak if a plea deal could be arranged. He was scheduled to go on trial October 9th for conspiracy to sell drugs and for the sale of oxycodone.  If a plea agreement is truly in the works and he does have useful information about the person's behind the museum theft 22 years ago or the location of the paintings, investigators may have some interesting leads to follow up on. 

Then again, it may be one Mafioso’s way of sandbagging another through implication and innuendo, as this case has involved other leads that have gone nowhere in the past and at 75, Andrew Parente probably isn’t thrilled with the idea of spending his golden years in prison.