Jury: Tarantino guilty in slay plot

Federal prosecutors say Christian Tarantino, right, had Vincent Federal prosecutors say Christian Tarantino, right, had Vincent Gargiulo, left, killed "because he knew too much" about the businessman's involvement in two other murders and was trying to extort him for $500,000. Photo Credit: Handouts

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Christian Tarantino, already facing two mandatory life sentences because of previous murder convictions, now faces a third mandatory life sentence after a jury found him guilty Monday of conspiring to kill an informant in 2003.

The anonymous jury in federal court in Central Islip agreed that Tarantino, a Dix Hills gym owner, conspired to have Vincent Gargiulo killed, but they acquitted him on a second charge of murdering the Queens man who was trying to extort $500,000 from him. Gargiulo, 39, was the brother-in-law of Twisted Sister lead singer Dee Snider.

The prosecution's case included a key witness, Pablo Amador, a self-confessed lookout in the Gargiulo killing.

When the verdict was announced, Tarantino was visibly angry.

"Based on what information?" Tarantino, 44, shouted. Told to be quiet by a federal marshal, Tarantino continued, "I will not be quiet. Based on what information? Pablo Amador said I did it? You are crazy. . . . crazy."

Tarantino's attorney, Stephen Rosen, who said he was disappointed with the verdict, also said the jurors -- who were not publicly identified because of the violent nature of the case -- did not understand the laws of conspiracy. Convicting on one charge and acquitting on another, the jury came back with "an obvious compromise verdict," Rosen said.

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Tarantino is a co-owner of Synergy Fitness Clubs in Farmingdale, Levittown, Franklin Square, Massapequa and Long Beach, according to prosecutors.

According to the prosecution, Gargiulo had told Tarantino that he had recorded him in 2000 admitting to two 1994 murders -- that of armored-car guard Julius Baumgardt, 47, of Lindenhurst, and Louis Dorval, 30, of Elmont, an associate in the robbery of Baumgardt's armored car.

Tarantino was convicted of their murders last year. Each conviction carries a mandatory life sentence. A mistrial was declared over whether he was responsible for killing Gargiulo.

Federal prosecutor James Miskiewicz and FBI agent Robert Schelhorn, each of whom worked more than a decade on the case, declined to comment as they left court, as did prosecutor Sean Flynn.

Eastern District U.S. Attorney Loretta Lynch said in a written statement: "(T)his case reflects the commitment of the government to seek justice for the victims of crimes no matter how long the road."

Suzette Snider, wife of Dee Snider, and sister of Gargiulo, said, "I'm happy that it's over and done."

With Gary Dymski

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