A longtime friend of Christian Tarantino testified Thursday that the man Tarantino is accused of killing had detailed knowledge of Tarantino's involvement in two other murders.
Tarantino, 44, is being tried in Federal District Court in Central Islip in the killing of sometime associate Vincent Gargiulo, brother-in-law of Twisted Sister singer Dee Snyder, because he was attempting to extort $500,000 from Tarantino over the two deaths, prosecutors have charged.
He was convicted of the two murders last year, but a jury could not reach a verdict on whether he had Gargiulo killed.
The government witness, Scott Mulligan, provided a dramatic, almost step-by-step account of how Tarantino planned the 1994 armored car robbery that led to the death of guard Julius Baumgardt, 47, of Lindenhurst, and the later murder of a participant in the robbery, Louis Dorval, 30, of East Meadow.
Mulligan testified that Gargiulo had extensive knowledge of the murders and said Dorval was killed because Tarantino feared he would inform on him.
Mulligan said he had pleaded guilty to involvement in the Baumgardt murder and was testifying for the government in the hope of getting less than a life sentence under questioning by Assistant United States Attorney Sean Flynn, who is prosecuting the case along with Assistant U.S. Attorney James Miskiewicz.
Mulligan, 45, who was tracked down by the FBI after the mistrial in the Gargiulo case, testified he grew up in the Bellmore-Merrick area with Tarantino and Gargiulo, and had committed a number of burglaries with Tarantino, as had Gargiulo.
Mulligan said he had gotten a tip about an easy robbery of an armored car because the guards were "lackadaisical and elderly."
Gargiulo, then 50, "was very close to Christian Tarantino . . . like brothers, almost," and to them, the older Gargiulo was "someone to look up to when we were young," Mulligan said.
They all discussed the possibility of robbing the armored car.
"Vince knew about the job, but wasn't interested in doing it," Mulligan said, without further explanation.
During the robbery, Dorval's gun accidentally went off, killing Baumgardt, Mulligan said. Afterward, Dorval kept saying, "it was a mistake."
But Tarantino felt that Dorval might become an informant and had to be eliminated, Mulligan said. Tarantino told him, "It's my mess and I'll clean it up."
He later told Gargiulo he had shot Dorval, adding, "It was done. . . . He really didn't bleed much," Mulligan said. In August 2003, Gargiulo was shot in the face on a Manhattan street.
After court, Snyder said the important thing is for Tarantino to be convicted. "Vince is no longer with us," he said.