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Judge denies new trial for Christian Tarantino

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

A federal judge has refused to order a new trial for a Dix Hills gym owner who was convicted in the murders of three people, including an armored car guard, during a botched 1994 Muttontown robbery.

Christian Tarantino, 44, who faces three mandatory life sentences, had asked that his convictions in 2011 and last May be overturned because his defense attorney in two of the murders supposedly had a conflict of interest.

He also claimed that in one of the cases the government failed to provide proper evidence to the defense, and the court improperly allowed in other evidence. Another contention was that a key government witness perjured himself.

But U.S. District Judge Joanna Seybert in Central Islip, in a recent 26-page ruling, denied all the grounds for a retrial.

Tarantino was convicted of murdering armored car guard Julius Baumgardt during the robbery; of killing Louis Dorval, an associate in the robbery, to cover up the Baumgardt murder; and of conspiracy to have informant Vincent Gargiulo killed to cover up the murders of Baumgardt and Dorval.

In the case of the Dorval killing, defense attorneys noted that the account of the key government witness in the case, Scott Mulligan, conflicted as to who actually shot Dorval, with the previous account of another person who admitted to having taken part in the Dorval murder. Mulligan has pleaded guilty to murder in the Baumgardt killing.

But in her ruling, Seybert said, "That one witness gives a differing version of events from another is not uncommon in litigation and does not establish perjury."

Frank Doddato, of Garden City, one of Tarantino's lawyers, declined to comment Friday, as did Eastern District federal prosecutors James Miskiewicz and Sean Flynn.

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