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Man questioned in art heist faces weapons charges

April 23, 2012
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HARTFORD, Conn.—A reputed Connecticut mobster suspected of having information related to the largest art theft in history was arraigned Monday on weapons charges.

Robert V. Gentile, 75, leaned on a cane as he slowly rose before a judge in federal court in Hartford to plead not guilty to three charges.

Federal agents say they seized three revolvers in a search of Gentile's Manchester home on Feb. 10, numerous rounds of ammunition and home-made silencers.

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.

Gentile has been detained since his February arrest on a charge of selling illegally obtained prescription painkillers.

Assistant U.S. Attorney John Durham said in federal court in Hartford last month that the FBI believes Gentile "had some involvement in connection with stolen property" related to the theft of masterworks from Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston in 1990. Durham said FBI agents have had unproductive discussions with Gentile about the theft, but he didn't elaborate on his allegations.

Gentile's lawyer, A. Ryan McGuigan, says his client had nothing to do with the art theft. He said after the arraignment that prosecutors are "piling on" with the gun charges.

Jury selection for the trial for the drug and gun charges is set to begin Oct. 9.

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