Tipster who lied in Tarantino case gets 6 months
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The man whose tip about the regular delivery of payrolls to a Muttontown office building led Dix Hills businessman Christian Tarantino to stage a botched robbery that resulted in the murder of an armored-car guard was sentenced to 6 months in prison Wednesday.
Gregory Morgan had pleaded guilty to lying to FBI agents about his role in the case and could have faced up to 5 years in prison.
Tarantino, 44, was sentenced to three life terms in April by U.S. District Judge Joanna Seybert in Central Islip in connection with the 1994 murder of the guard, Julius Baumgardt, and for two subsequent killings of people who he feared would become informers.
Morgan worked as a stock broker in the office building and also as a bartender at a place where Tarantino and another person who has pleaded guilty in the case, Scott Mulligan, hung out, according to officials.
Morgan asked Mulligan whether he and Tarantino would be interested in robbing the armored car, "and should the robbery be successful, Morgan requested from Mulligan a percentage of what was ultimately stolen," according to court papers.
There is no suggestion that Morgan was involved in Baumgardt's murder nor that he ever received any money from the robbery, in which about $90,000 was taken.
In asking that he get no jail time, Morgan said he lied to agents because he was terrified of both Tarantino and Mulligan, who is awaiting sentencing.
"I am truly sorry . . . I was in fear of my children and my children's well-being," Morgan said.
In sentencing him to the 6 months, Seybert said she did not want to see the United States be "a country where one has to be more fearful of a criminal than a prosecutor . . . that destroys a society's respect for the law."
Also on Wednesday, Seybert sentenced another stockbroker involved in the case to probation for lying to the FBI during its investigation.
James Contacessa, who also worked in the Muttontown building and knew Tarantino, apologized for his actions when he told agents he knew nothing about Tarantino's connection to the robbery and murder.
Contacessa eventually admitted he had seen Tarantino apparently casing the building two weeks before the robbery-murder. Contacessa also said he feared that Tarantino would hurt him if it were known that he told authorities about seeing him in the building.
Federal prosecutor Sean Flynn said it took investigators 14 years from the Baumgardt murder to Tarantino's arrest in 2008 partly because of the two brokers' reluctance to tell what they knew. When confronted about their possible knowledge, both men lied to investigators.
Flynn and prosecutor Carrie Capwell declined to comment afterward.