Before she sentenced Dix Hills businessman Christian Tarantino to three life sentences for his role in three murders Wednesday, a federal judge was so moved by the tone of a letter she received from the widow of one victim that she read from it in open court.
The letter was from Christine Baumgardt, the widow of Julius Baumgardt, a guard whom Tarantino was convicted of murdering during a 1994 Muttontown armored-car robbery.
U.S. District Judge Joanna Seybert said that Christine Baumgardt had recounted in the letter that someone had asked her why she hadn't sought revenge in the almost 20 years since her beloved husband had been killed, but rather spent her time in a group that aided relatives of other murder victims.
"I answered," Baumgardt said in the letter, "if I wanted revenge I could of at any time went and got revenge . . . No . . . [it] is about justice. I knew in my heart we would get justice. I knew that . . . working on our case would not give up. But, believe me during these 18 years there were times that I wanted to become 'Rambo.' "
For her part, Seybert said that Tarantino had shown no remorse, calling him "a violent, cruel, cunning person who chose to commit crimes" and though she had no choice under federal law, justice required the three mandatory life sentences.
Before he was sentenced, Tarantino said "I feel terrible about what happened to all the families" of the dead men, but "I maintain my innocence."
Tarantino, who Eastern District federal prosecutors said was both a successful owner of health clubs and the head of a robbery crew, was convicted not only of murdering Baumgardt, but of two months later murdering Louis Dorval, who also took part in the armored car robbery. And Tarantino was also convicted of conspiracy in the 2003 murder of Vincent Gargiulo, a longtime friend. In both the Dorval and Gargiulo cases, Tarantino feared that the victims would become informants, according to federal prosecutors.
Gargiulo, the brother-in-law of Twisted Sister singer Dee Snider, had made a tape of Tarantino talking about the murders of Baumgardt and Dorval. Gargiulo then attempted to sell the tape for $500,000 to either the FBI or Tarantino, according to trial testimony. The tape was a key piece of government evidence at the trial.
With her husband, Snider, beside her, Gargiulo's sister, Suzette Snider told Seybert before sentencing that her brother "Vinnie loved Chris; Vinnie thought Chris was his brother."
But Suzette Snider added that her brother made the tape because he thought Tarantino's actions were out of control, "and something had to be done to stop him."
Tarantino's attorney, Todd Scher, said his client would appeal. Prosecutors James Miskiewicz, Sean Flynn and Carrie Capwell declined to comment.