NEW YORK -- Earlier today, Christian Tarantino, the owner of Synergy Fitness clubs on Long Island and New York City, was sentenced to three terms of life imprisonment without the possibility of parole for his role in the murders of three men between 1994 and 2003, according to federal prosecutors.
On June 23, 1994, Tarantino, Louis Dorval, and two others ambushed guards of the Mid-Island Check Cashing company as they delivered cash to a business in Syosset, New York. As Tarantino and his associates handcuffed one guard, Dorval shot and killed Julius Baumgardt in the back of the head as he lay face down on the pavement.
Six weeks later, when federal law enforcement sought to arrest Dorval on charges in an unrelated racketeering indictment, Tarantino lured Dorval to his own death and, with the help of others, stuffed Dorval's body in a plastic tool trunk that he then dumped at sea.
A U.S. Coast Guard vessel pulled Dorval's body out of the Atlantic several days later, but the investigations into both killings remained open.
The collection of DNA evidence also led Tarantino's long-time confidant, Vincent Gargiulo, to secretly tape-record a September 2000 conversation with Tarantino in an apparent effort to secure evidence that would prevent Tarantino or others from falsely implicating Gargiulo in either the Baumgardt or Dorval murders.
In that recording, Tarantino implicated himself in both the Baumgardt murder and the killing and disposal of Dorval's body.
In 2003, Gargiulo revealed the existence of the recording to Tarantino and others and threatened to make the tape available to the FBI if he was not compensated for businesses losses.
Thereafter, Garguilo wrote the FBI a letter offering to produce a tape that would prove Tarantino's guilt in the two 1994 killings. However, before the FBI obtained the tape, Tarantino hired a Synergy Fitness gym employee to kill Gargiulo for $35,000.
On the morning of August 18, 2003, as Gargiulo walked to work at a construction site Manhattan, that employee approached his victim and fired a single shot from a .22 caliber target pistol into the bridge of Gargiulo's nose. Gargiulo was pronounced dead a short time later in Bellevue Hospital.
Several months later, Gargiulo's tape recording was anonymously mailed to the homicide detectives of the NYPD. Analysis by the FBI's forensic audio lab in Quantico, Virginia, confirmed its authenticity, and at the subsequent trials, juries heard Tarantino admit to his role in the armored car robbery and the subsequent dumping of Dorval's body at sea.
In May 2011, a jury convicted Tarantino of participating in the murders of Julius Baumgardt and Louis Dorval but failed to reach a verdict on the Gargiulo murder charges.
Following a retrial in May 2012, a second jury convicted Tarantino of conspiracy to murder Gargiulo to obstruct justice. Each of the counts of conviction carried mandatory life terms of imprisonment.