Results tagged “New York” from The Court Reporter

NY Fitness Club Owner Sentenced to Life for Three Murders

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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.

Woman Indicted for Running a Charity Scam for a Newtown School Shooting Victim

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A woman was indicted this week for using her Facebook account, phone and text messages to falsely claim to be an aunt of a shooting victim in order to solicit donations for the Newtown School shooting child, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.

Nouel Alba, 37, of Bronx, New York, told people she was collecting money for the funeral of a child and supplied fictitious details about the aftermath of the tragedy, federal officials stated.

At Alba's instruction, donor-victims sent money to a PayPal account controlled and accessed by Alba.

The indictment further alleges that, when contacted by FBI special agents investigating fundraising and charity scams related to the Newtown school shooting, Alba falsely stated that she did not post information related to Newtown on her Facebook account or contacted anyone about such postings, or recently accessed her PayPal account, stated federal officials.

Alba was charged with making false statements and could get up to five years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000, authorities stated.

 "Investigators continue to monitor the Internet to uncover other fundraising scams arising from this tragedy, and any individuals who attempt to profit through these schemes will be prosecuted," stated U.S. Attorney David Fein.


New York Man Who Illegally Uploaded Movie Sent to Prison

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LOS ANGELES - A New York man who illegally uploaded a workprint copy of the movie "X-Men Origins: Wolverine" was sentenced today to  a year in prison, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.

The federal judge also order numerous computer restrictions  against Gilberto Sanchez, 49, who resides in The Bronx and used the screen name "skillz," federal prosecutors stated.

U.S. District Court Judge Margaret M. Morrow described the offense as "extremely serious."

Sanchez uploaded the work copy of the movie more than a month before the theatrical release, according to federal prosecutors.

He had been regularly uploading pirated movies for four or five years, and "didn't appear remorseful after the charges were brought," prosecutors wrote in a sentencing memorandum.

"The federal prison sentence handed down in this case sends a strong message of deterrence to would-be Internet pirates," United States Attorney André Birotte Jr. stated in a press release. "The Justice Department will pursue and prosecute persons who seek to steal the intellectual property of this nation."

Largest Prescription Medicaid Scam Ever Nets 48 Defendants

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What is believed to be the largest single prescription drug, medical fraud scheme ever charged resulted in criminal charges against 48 people today in New York, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office in the Southern District of New York.

The scheme caused losses estimated at more than half-a-billion-dollars in Medicaid, say federal officials.

Defendants were in custody in New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Florida and Texas. Some defendants remain at large, say federal law enforcement officials.

 "As alleged, these defendants ran a black market in prescription pills involving a double-dip fraud of gigantic proportions," Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said in a press release. "It worked a fraud on Medicaid--in some cases, two times over--a fraud on pharmaceutical companies, a fraud on legitimate pharmacies, a fraud on patients who unwittingly bought second-hand drugs, and ultimately, a fraud on the entire health care system. With the dozens of arrests we made today, we have taken a significant step toward exposing and shutting down the black market for second-hand drugs, and our investigation is very much ongoing."

The prescription drugs involved in this scheme were drugs designed to treat various illnesses, including HIV, schizophrenia, and asthma, and were non-controlled substances that did not lend themselves to abuse, federal authorities stated.

These second-hand drugs were originally dispensed to Medicaid recipients in the New York City area who then sold them into collection and distribution channels that ultimately ended at pharmacies for resale to unsuspecting consumers, say federal officials.

 The defendants and their co-conspirators profited by exploiting the difference between the cost to the patient of obtaining the prescription drugs through Medicaid, which was usually nothing, and the hundreds of dollars per bottle that pharmacies paid to purchase those drugs to sell to their customers. In order to maximize their profits, the defendants and their co-conspirators targeted the most expensive drugs, which often cost more than $1,000 per bottle.

During the investigation, the FBI seized more than $16 million worth of second-hand prescription drugs, comprised of more than 33,000 bottles and more than 250,000 loose pills, kept in uncontrolled and sometimes egregious conditions by various defendants and their co-conspirators, according to federal prosecutors.


The Court Reporter
Raul Hernandez has spent years writing stories about the drama that unfolds in the courtroom. Here he answers common questions, share some insights on the judicial system and passes along some of the little things that make the Ventura County courts an interesting place to be. You can contact him at