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Dix Hills man to be retried in 2003 murder

A file photo of Christian Tarantino leaving FBI

A file photo of Christian Tarantino leaving FBI Headquarters in Melville to be arraigned. (Sept. 24, 2008) Credit: Howard Schnapp

Dix Hills gym owner Christian Tarantino, who federal prosecutors say led a double life as a prosperous businessman and an armed robber and murderer, is scheduled to be retried starting Monday in federal court in Central Islip in the 2003 killing of an associate.

Vincent Gargiulo, 39, of Sunnyside, Queens, the brother-in-law of Twisted Sister's lead singer Dee Snider, allegedly was killed because he was involved in a shakedown scheme to make $500,000 using a tape he had made of Tarantino supposedly confessing to two other murders, according to federal prosecutors.

Prosecutors have said Gargiulo was simultaneously trying to extort Tarantino and attempting to sell the tape to the FBI.

Tarantino was convicted last year in the 1994 Muttontown death of an armored car guard, Julius Baumgardt, 47, of Lindenhurst, during a botched robbery, and the subsequent 1994 murder of Louis Dorval, 30, of Elmont and East Meadow.

Dorval was one of the other people involved in the death of Baumgardt, prosecutors said.

Tarantino, who operated a number of health clubs in the metropolitan area, feared that Dorval would inform on him to law enforcement, prosecutors have said. Dorval's body was found in a large tool chest floating in the Atlantic Ocean off Fire Island, prosecutors said.

Tarantino was tried in Central Islip last year for all three killings, but was only convicted of the Baumgardt and Dorval murders. The jury was deadlocked on the Gargiulo killing and U.S. District Judge Joanna Seybert declared a mistrial in that case.

Tarantino, who is charged with conspiracy to murder and the murder of an informant, has pleaded not guilty to the Gargiulo killing.

Gargiulo was shot in the face in August 2003 on a Manhattan street.

One of his attorneys, Stephen Rosen, of Coral Gables, Fla., declined to comment, as did assistant U.S. attorneys James Miskiewicz and Sean Flynn.

Miskiewicz, along with FBI agent Robert Schelhorn, have worked 11 years on investigating the Tarantino case.

The jurors will not hear that Tarantino had been convicted of the Dorval and Baumgardt murders because that would be considered too prejudicial, according to the judge.

Neither Snider nor his wife Suzette, Gargiulo's sister, could be reached immediately for comment.

Tarantino faces a life sentence if convicted of the Gargiulo death.

He also faces life sentences for the murders of Dorval and Baumgardt when he is sentenced by Seybert.

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