HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — A reputed Connecticut mobster suspected of a connection to the artwork stolen from Boston's Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in 1990 discussed the paintings with an undercover FBI agent, a prosecutor said Friday.
Robert Gentile, who was appearing in court on weapons charges, has been identified by the FBI as the last surviving person of interest in the robbery of artwork worth an estimated $500 million.
At the hearing, prosecutor John Durham said that Gentile had discussed a sale of paintings stolen from the Gardner museum. He did not provide further detail on what came of the purported discussions. Gentile has not been charged in connection with the missing artwork, and a spokesman for the U.S. attorney's office declined to provide additional details.
Gentile's attorney, A. Ryan McGuigan, denied the allegations and said his client does not have any knowledge of the stolen artwork.
"This is what you call throw everything at the wall and see what sticks," said McGuigan, who has alleged the FBI has been pressing Gentile for information about the paintings that his client does not have.
Gentile, 78, was brought into the courtroom in a wheelchair following his arrest earlier in the day at a meeting with his probation officer. McGuigan said he is crippled by ailments including a heart condition.
Nobody has been charged in the Gardener heist, in which two men posing as police officers stole 13 pieces of art including paintings by Rembrandt van Rijn, Edouard Manet, Edgar Degas and Johannes Vermeer. The paintings have never been found.
When federal agents searched Gentile's house in Manchester in 2012, they found a handwritten list of the stolen paintings and their estimated worth, according to prosecutors.
Gentile, who has a history of convictions for theft and weapons crimes, was sent to prison in May 2013 in a weapons and prescription drug case. He was released a year ago, and ever since, the FBI has kept close tabs on him.
He allegedly met with at least seven different convicted felons, in violation of the conditions of his supervised release, and sold a handgun to one of them for $1,000, Durham said. He was arrested Friday on charges of illegal possession and sale of a firearm.
The judge ordered Gentile detained until another hearing on Monday.