HARTFORD – The alleged Mafia figure from Connecticut tied to the notorious Isabella Stewart Gardner museum heist was sentenced here in federal court today to 30 months in prison for possessing guns and ammunition and for selling prescription drugs.
Robert Gentile, 76, whose house was searched last year in relation to the Gardner investigation, has been in prison since his arrest in February 2012. He could be released in 10 months under federal prison guidelines. He would then have to serve three months of home confinement and a total of three years of supervised release.
Seated at the edge of his seat, the ailing Gentile made the sign of the cross as the sentence was announced. Gentile, who moments earlier had tearfully pleaded for mercy, responded, “Thank you your honor, thank you very much.”
His lawyer, A. Ryan McGuigan, later said he welcomed the sentence.
The sentence handed out by US District Judge Robert N. Chatigny was seen as being lenient for a mobster who has a history of crimes. Gentile had faced 46 to 57 months in prison under sentencing guidelines.
Chatigny said that he was considering Gentile’s age, his ailing health, and his wife’s poor health in handing out the sentence.
“It’s significantly punitive for a man your age, and for a man whose wife needs him,” Chatigny said.
Gentile, an alleged “made man” connected with the Philadelphia Mafia, has been linked to the late Robert Guarente, who has become a focus of investigation into the notorious Gardner heist – the largest property theft in US history.
Assistant US Attorney John Durham said in court today that investigators found a Boston Herald article published after the March 20, 1990, theft during the search of Gentile’s home in February 2012. They also found a list of the 13 works of art stolen in the heist, along with their estimated value.
Durham said Gentile later scored poorly on a polygraph test.
Gentile has repeatedly denied any knowledge of the location of the paintings, however.
The Gardner Museum has offered a $5 million reward for their return of the 13 works of art, which include rare paintings by Rembrandt, Degas, and Vermeer.
In March, the FBI said for the first time that investigators had identified the culprits who stole the paintings, and that they had traced some of the art to Philadelphia as recently as a decade ago.
The trail has since gone cold, and the FBI is now hoping a tip from the public will reinvigorate the search, officials have said.Milton J. Valencia can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @miltonvalencia.