Fitness Club Owner Convicted of Two Murders
Defendant Participated in Murder of Armored Van Guard and An Obstruction-of-Justice Murder
Following eight weeks of trial, a federal jury in Central Islip today returned a verdict convicting Christian Gerold Tarantino, a part-owner of Synergy Fitness Clubs located in Farmingdale, Levittown, Franklin Square, Massapequa, and Long Beach, of two 1994 murders. The jury was unable to reach a verdict on a third murder charged in the case.
The conviction was announced by Loretta E. Lynch, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, and Janice K. Fedarcyk, Assistant Director-in-Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation, New York Field Office.
The government’s trial evidence proved that on June 23, 1994, Tarantino and co-conspirators, including Louis Dorval, carried out an armed robbery of a Mid-Island Check Cashing armored van in Syosset, 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 and his co-worker, Walter Tully.
The government’s trial evidence further established that after the Baumgardt murder, Tarantino learned that Dorval told at least one other person 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. On August 12, 1994, after Dorval stated 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 personnel found the trunk containing Dorval’s body floating in the ocean. The government proved at trial that Tarantino murdered Dorval to prevent him from disclosing to federal authorities information relating to various crimes, including Tarantino’s role in the armored van robbery and Baumgardt murder.
“We hope that today’s convictions bring a measure of closure to the family and friends of the victims,” stated United States Attorney Lynch. “As this case clearly demonstrates, we will not rest until those who engage in such murderous violence are brought to justice.” Ms. Lynch praised the FBI for its tireless commitment to the investigation and prosecution, and extended her grateful appreciation to the Nassau County Police Department, the New York City Police Department, the New York County District Attorney’s Office, and the New York State Department of Corrections, Office of the Inspector General, for their assistance.
FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge Fedarcyk stated, “Today’s verdict means, quite literally, that Tarantino will not get away with murder. He did not stop at participating in one murder; he committed a second killing to silence a witness who could implicate him in the first one.”
When sentenced by United States District Judge Joanna Seybert, the defendant faces a mandatory sentence of life imprisonment on each of the murder convictions. As noted above, the jury did not return a verdict on two charges arising from the August 18, 2003 murder of Vincent Gargiulo. The court has set August 1, 2011 as the date for the retrial of the defendant on those charges.
The government’s case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys James M. Miskiewicz, Carrie N. Capwell, and Sean C. Flynn.
CHRISTIAN GEROLD TARANTINO
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