Long Island Fitness Club Owner Indicted for Three Murders
Charges Include Murder Of An Armored Car Guard And Two Obstruction-Of-Justice Murders
Earlier today, a federal indictment was unsealed charging CHRISTIAN GEROLD TARANTINO, a part-owner of the Synergy Fitness Club located in Farmingdale, New York, with three murders committed between June 23, 1994 and August 18, 2003, as well as conspiracy to commit murder.1 TARANTINO was arrested this morning and is scheduled to be arraigned at 2:30 this afternoon before United States District Judge Joanna Seybert, at the United States Courthouse in Central Islip, New York.
The charges were announced by Benton J. Campbell, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, Mark J. Mershon, Assistant Director-in-Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation, New York Field Division, Raymond W. Kelly, Commissioner, New York City Police Department, and Lawrence W. Mulvey, Commissioner, Nassau County Police Department.
According to the indictment and a detention memorandum filed earlier today, on June 23, 1994, TARANTINO and several co-conspirators, including Louis Dorval, carried out an armed robbery of a Mid-Island Check Cashing armored van in Muttontown, New York. During the robbery, Dorval shot and killed one of the van guards, Julius Baumgardt. TARANTINO and his co-conspirators fled with nearly $100,000 in United States currency stolen from Baumgardt.
As further alleged in the indictment and detailed in the detention memorandum, after the Baumgardt murder, TARANTINO learned that Dorval told at least one other individual that he and TARANTINO committed the armored van robbery and murder. On August 10, 1994, Dorval and others were charged in the District of New Jersey with various racketeering offenses unrelated to the armored van robbery. Some of those racketeering charges stemmed from a December 3, 1993, burglary at a Filene’s Basement Store in Manhasset, New York, carried out by TARANTINO and Dorval. On August 12, 1994, after Dorval announced that he would flee rather than face incarceration, TARANTINO and others murdered Dorval, put his body in a plastic tool trunk, and dumped the trunk into the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Long Island. On August 16, 1994, United States Coast Guard officers recovered the trunk and Dorval’s body floating in the ocean. The indictment alleges that TARANTINO and his co-conspirators murdered Dorval to prevent him from disclosing to authorities information relating to various crimes, including TARANTINO’s role in the Baumgardt murder and the Filene’s Basement Store burglary.
The indictment and the detention memorandum further allege that TARANTINO associate Vincent Gargiulo secretly recorded a conversation with TARANTINO in September 2000 in which TARANTINO admitted his involvement in the Baumgardt and Dorval murders. In 2003, Gargiulo unsuccessfully attempted to use the tape to extort money from TARANTINO by threatening to provide the recording to law enforcement authorities. The indictment charges that on August 18, 2003, an individual hired by TARANTINO shot and killed Gargiulo in New York City to prevent him from providing the tape and other evidence relating to TARANTINO’s crimes to law enforcement. Later, after Gargiulo’s murder, the recorded conversation was turned over to the New York City Police.
“Today’s indictment is the culmination of years of relentless and painstaking investigation by members of the FBI, this Office, and officers and detectives of the NYPD and the Nassau County Police Department,” stated United States Attorney Campbell. “In addition to providing some solace to the victims’ families, this prosecution demonstrates that the government will never give up in its pursuit of those who commit violent crimes and try to cover their tracks and obstruct justice through murder.”
FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge Mershon stated, “Tarantino participated in the murder of Julius Baumgardt, then murdered Louis Dorval and ordered the murder of Vincent Gargiulo to ensure they would never divulge what they knew about the first murder. This was literally compounding the felony. Tarantino may have thought he could conceal one murder by committing two more, but what he really did was dig a deeper hole for himself and leave a fresher trail.”
NYPD Police Commissioner Kelly stated, “I want to commend the NYPD detectives and their federal partners whose investigative diligence made this important arrest possible.”
Nassau County Police Commissioner Mulvey stated, “This indictment attests to the fact that our resolve to pursue those who engage in violent crime does not diminish over time. I commend the agents and officers whose diligence and patience have resulted in the apprehension and prosecution of this violent felon.”
If convicted, TARANTINO faces life imprisonment for the murders of Julius Baumgardt and Louis Dorval. If convicted of the murder of Vincent Gargiulo, TARANTINO faces life imprisonment, or the death penalty.
The government’s case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys James Miskiewicz and Carrie Capwell.
CHRISTIAN GEROLD TARANTINO
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