Gentile also had close ties to organized crime figures in Philadelphia and in Boston, including the late Robert Guarente, who has been tied to almost everyone mentioned as a person of interest in the heist.
Guarente, for instance, was close with the late Carmello Merlino, who ran an auto body shop in Dorchester and who, according to FBI reports, once tried to negotiate the return of the artworks. No deal ever came to fruition, and Merlino was later convicted in a scheme to rob an armored car depot in Easton. He said that he was set up by informants and that the FBI was pressuring him for information regarding the Gardner heist. Merlino died in prison in 2005 at age 71.
Two other men were also convicted in the armored car depot scheme and received lengthy prison sentences, though they have denied knowledge of the heist or the location of the artwork. Stephen Rossetti, 54, who is Guarente’s nephew, is slated to be released in 2044, and David Turner, 45, is set to be released in 2025.
Guarente died in 2004 at age 65. His wife has told authorities in recent years that she saw him give Gentile at least one painting some time around 2003, around the time authorities say some of the art was offered for sale in Philadelphia. The wife, however, did not describe the painting as one of the works taken from the Gardner.
Milton Valencia can be reached at email@example.com.