Judge Will Not Free Gardner Heist Suspect Robert Gentile

A federal judge on Wednesday refused to release Gardner museum heist person of interest Robert Gentile to home confinement and dismissed his claim that federal authorities are tormenting him by shuttling him between penal institutions.

The 82-year-old Hartford mobster, who is being held while awaiting sentencing on gun charges, was ordered moved to a North Carolina prison medical center in late September for a mental competency examination. Last week, after the judge on his case inquired about the examination, authorities disclosed that it had been delayed and Gentile was waiting in a federal prison in New York City.

Between September and last week, Gentile lawyer A. Ryan McGuigan said Gentile had been moved from a state jail in Bridgeport to a federal jail in Rhode Island to a New York prison. He complained that the shuttling between prisons amounts to “cruel and unusual punishment.”

Federal prosecutors said in a court filing that Gentile has been moved around because of transportation delays. Initially, a bed was not available at the medical institution and, when one opened, Gentile’s flight was canceled. They said Gentile flew to North Carolina on a commercial flight Tuesday.

The FBI believes Gentile is concealing information about the 1990 robbery of $500 million in art — including a Rembrandt and a Vermeer — from Boston’s Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum.

Gentile denies knowing anything about the art or the heist. But he has been under extraordinary law enforcement pressure since 2010, when the widow of one of his mob partners told investigators that she saw him with two of the stolen pieces several years earlier.

Gentile has complained his arrests since for a succession of drug and gun offenses are a futile effort by law enforcement to press him to share information he does not have. Federal authorities have replied that they have several, surreptitious recordings made by informants and undercover operatives on which Gentile says he has knowledge of or access to the art.

In the public portion of the government’s legal filing, prosecutors said that Gentile, who suffers from a variety of ailments, appears to be in generally good health. They said he was examined in New York “and it was determined that the defendant’s medical condition is stable other having what is referenced in the examination report as Nasopharyngitis, that is … a common cold.”

He was to have been sentenced on the weapons charges in September, but the hearing was postponed after McGuigan expressed concerns that extended incarceration has eroded Gentile’s mental acuity and he may have difficulty understanding the the charges against him and assisting in his defense. At that point, U.S. District Judge Robert N. Chatigny ordered the competency examination, Gentile’s second.

An earlier examination, more than a year before, found him competent.

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