FBI: “Former Studio Assistant to Jasper Johns Charged in Manhattan Federal Court in $6.5 Million Scheme to Sell Stolen Johns Works”

August 16, 2013

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) on August 15, 2013 released the following:

“Preet Bharara, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, and George Venizelos, the Assistant Director in Charge of the New York Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), today announced the unsealing of an Indictment charging James Meyer, a former assistant to artist Jasper Johns, with selling 22 works that he stole from Johns’ studio in Sharon, Connecticut. Meyer was arrested yesterday morning at his home in Salisbury, Connecticut, and appeared in federal court in Hartford that afternoon.

Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said, “As alleged, James Meyer is the latest in a long line of thieves who sought to make millions through a fraud on the art world. Meyer, a former assistant to artist Jasper Johns, allegedly stole and resold a number of pieces he was charged with maintaining. His arrest underscores our commitment to exposing deception in this lucrative industry and holding fraudsters to account.”

FBI Assistant Director in Charge George Venizelos said, “As alleged, James Meyer exploited his position of trust to steal repeatedly from his long-time employer. That his employer is a renowned American artist only made the crime more lucrative. To convert the artworks to cash, Meyer allegedly engaged in a serial scheme to deceive the buyers of the art and the gallery through which they bought it.”

According to the allegations in the Indictment unsealed yesterday in Manhattan federal court:

Meyer was a studio assistant for Johns for over 25 years and was responsible for, among other things, maintaining a studio file drawer containing pieces of art that were not yet completed by Johns and not authorized by Johns to be placed in the art market.

Between September 2006 and February 2012, Meyer removed 22 individual pieces of art from the studio file drawer he was responsible for maintaining, and from elsewhere in Johns’ studio, and transported those pieces from the studio in Sharon to an art gallery located in Manhattan for the purpose of selling those works without the knowledge or permission of Johns. Meyer represented both to the owner of the gallery (the “gallery owner”) and to potential purchasers that these pieces had been given to him as gifts by Johns when, in fact, that was not true.

As part of his scheme to defraud, Meyer provided sworn, notarized certifications both to the gallery owner and to buyers stating that each piece was an authentic Johns work, that the art had been given to him directly by Johns, that he was the rightful owner of the piece, and that he had the right to sell that particular work. In addition, Meyer conditioned the sale of each of these works on the signed agreement by the purchaser that the art would be kept private for at least eight years, during which time the piece would not be loaned, exhibited, or re-sold.

Meyer also created fictitious inventory numbers for these pieces to give the impression that they were finished works that were authorized by Johns to be sold in the art market. Additionally, and to facilitate certain sales, Meyer created fake pages that he thereafter inserted into a ledger book of registered pieces of art maintained at Johns’ studio, and which he subsequently photographed, to give additional assurances to prospective buyers about the provenance, or history of ownership, of a particular piece.

During the course of his almost six-year scheme, the gallery owner sold 22 works of art on Meyer’s behalf for a total of approximately $6.5 million, of which $3.4 million was remitted directly to Meyer in sales proceeds.

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Meyer, 51, of Salisbury, Connecticut, is charged with one count of interstate transportation of stolen property, which carries a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison, and one count of wire fraud, which carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison. U.S. District Judge Alvin K. Hellerstein is assigned to the case.

Mr. Bharara praised the FBI for its outstanding work in the investigation.

This case is being handled by the Office’s Complex Frauds Unit. Assistant U.S. Attorney Christopher D. Frey is in charge of the prosecution.

The charges contained in the Indictment are merely accusations, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.”

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Douglas McNabb – McNabb Associates, P.C.’s
Federal Criminal Defense Attorneys Videos:

Federal Crimes – Be Careful

Federal Crimes – Be Proactive

Federal Crimes – Federal Indictment

Federal Crimes – Detention Hearing

Federal Mail Fraud Crimes

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To find additional federal criminal news, please read Federal Criminal Defense Daily.

Douglas McNabb and other members of the U.S. law firm practice and write and/or report extensively on matters involving Federal Criminal Defense, INTERPOL Red Notice Removal, International Extradition Defense, OFAC SDN Sanctions Removal, International Criminal Court Defense, and US Seizure of Non-Resident, Foreign-Owned Assets. Because we have experience dealing with INTERPOL, our firm understands the inter-relationship that INTERPOL’s “Red Notice” brings to this equation.

The author of this blog is Douglas C. McNabb. Please feel free to contact him directly at mcnabb@mcnabbassociates.com or at one of the offices listed above.


“Conn. man expected to plead guilty in drugs and guns case; FBI thinks he has info on art heist”

November 14, 2012

The Washington Post on November 14, 2012 released the following:

“By Associated Press

HARTFORD, Conn. — A 76-year-old reputed Connecticut mobster is expected to plead guilty in a weapons and prescription drugs case that has revealed the FBI’s belief that he has information about the largest art heist in history.

Robert Gentile, of Manchester, has a change-of-plea hearing scheduled in Hartford federal court on Wednesday. He has pleaded not guilty to allegations he illegally possessed firearms and explosives and sold illegally obtained prescription drugs.

It’s not clear whether there is a plea deal. Gentile’s lawyer and a spokesman for the U.S. attorney’s office declined to comment about the hearing.

Gentile hasn’t been charged in the museum theft. His attorney, A. Ryan McGuigan, has said his client knows nothing about the heist and isn’t a Mafia member.

At a court hearing in March, Assistant U.S. Attorney John Durham said the FBI believes Gentile “had some involvement in connection with stolen property” related to a 1990 heist at Boston’s Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum.

Thieves disguised as police officers struck as the city finished celebrating St. Patrick’s Day, tying up two guards and making off with 13 pieces of art including masterworks by Rembrandt, Vermeer, Degas and Manet worth more than a half-billion dollars. The artwork hasn’t been found and the museum is still offering a $5 million reward.

Durham has said that FBI agents had unproductive discussions with Gentile about the theft, but he didn’t elaborate on his allegations. Durham also said the FBI believes Gentile is a made member of a Philadelphia crime family.

Gentile has been detained since February when he and an associate, Anthony Parente, were charged with selling illegally obtained prescription drugs including OxyContin, Dilaudid and Percocet.

Authorities searched Gentile’s home and reported finding homemade dynamite sticks, several guns, ammunition, homemade silencers, a bulletproof vest, handcuffs, police scanners, brass knuckles and $22,000 in cash at the bottom of a grandfather clock.

Federal agents swarmed Gentile’s home again in May in what McGuigan called a veiled attempt to find the stolen paintings. McGuigan said at the time that the FBI got a new warrant allowing the use of ground-penetrating radar to look for buried weapons, but he believed they really were looking for the artwork.

“This is nonsense,” McGuigan said in May. “This is the FBI. Are you trying to tell me they missed something the first time? They’re trying to find $500 million of stolen artwork. … All they’re going to find is night crawlers.”

All McGuigan would say on Tuesday was that Gentile has been confined in a cell by himself and “looks terrible.”

“They have him in a hole 24 hours a day where he can’t see anybody,” McGuigan said.

Gentile is charged with three weapons crimes that each carry up to 10 years in prison and six drug crimes that carry up to 20 years in prison apiece. He wasn’t supposed to have any guns because of a 1990s larceny conviction.

The drug case against Parente remains pending. He is free on bail.”

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Douglas McNabb – McNabb Associates, P.C.’s
Federal Criminal Defense Attorneys Videos:

Federal Crimes – Be Careful

Federal Crimes – Be Proactive

Federal Crimes – Federal Indictment

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To find additional federal criminal news, please read Federal Criminal Defense Daily.

Douglas McNabb and other members of the U.S. law firm practice and write and/or report extensively on matters involving Federal Criminal Defense, INTERPOL Red Notice Removal, International Extradition Defense, OFAC SDN Sanctions Removal, International Criminal Court Defense, and US Seizure of Non-Resident, Foreign-Owned Assets. Because we have experience dealing with INTERPOL, our firm understands the inter-relationship that INTERPOL’s “Red Notice” brings to this equation.

The author of this blog is Douglas C. McNabb. Please feel free to contact him directly at mcnabb@mcnabbassociates.com or at one of the offices listed above.


Federal Indictments Charge 36 Hartford-Area Defendants Alleging Narcotics Trafficking and Firearm Offenses

May 14, 2012

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) on May 11, 2012 released the following:

“David B. Fein, United States Attorney for the District of Connecticut, and Kimberly K. Mertz, Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, today announced that a federal grand jury sitting in Hartford has returned three indictments charging 36 individuals with various offenses related to the distribution of crack cocaine and the unlawful possession and dealing of firearms in and around Hartford. The third indictment was unsealed on May 9, 2012 after 10 of the defendants were arrested.

These indictments stem from Operation Vinefield, a joint law enforcement investigation headed by the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Northern Connecticut Violent Crimes Task Force, targeting narcotics trafficking and gang violence in Hartford’s North End. The nine-month investigation included the use of court-authorized wiretaps, controlled purchases of crack cocaine, and physical surveillance. “I want to acknowledge the hard work and full commitment of the FBI, the Hartford Police Department, the Connecticut State Police, and the Connecticut Department of Correction in the lengthy investigation of this matter and the arrests of these defendants,” stated U.S. Attorney Fein. “The U.S. Attorney’s Office and our federal partners will continue to work with local and state law enforcement to bring narcotics and firearms traffickers to justice and to help free communities of gang violence.”

“The FBI is committed to working with our federal, state, and local law enforcement partners to address violent crime in Connecticut’s cities, and I want to recognize and express appreciation for the invaluable work of the Connecticut State Police, the Hartford Police Department, and the Connecticut Department of Correction,” stated FBI Special Agent in Charge Mertz.

On March 7, 2012, the grand jury returned an indictment charging the following 12 individuals with various narcotics offenses related to crack cocaine trafficking in the lower Vine Street area of Hartford:

JOSHUA EASTERLING, a.k.a. “Skeet,” “Squash,” and “SQ,” 25, of Hartford;

JAMES PERKINS, a.k.a. “Slugger,” 25, of East Hartford;

JUAN CARTAGENA, 27, of Hartford;

MORRIS CARTER, III, a.k.a. “Chilly Mo, Jr.” and “Mo,” 23, of Hartford;

ANTHONY HENRY, a.k.a. “Tone” and “Mack,” 21, of Hartford;

EVERTON GUNTER, a.k.a. “Little Ev” and “Ev,” 21, of Hartford;

EBONY MOORE, a.k.a. “Eb,” 35, of Hartford;

ERIC GOMES, a.k.a. “Goober Dust,” 45, of Hartford;

KYSHIIFA BOYD, a.k.a. “Ky,” 22, of Hartford;

MORRIS CARTER, JR., a.k.a. “Chilly Mo” and “Mo,” 43, of Hartford;

HASSAN MUHAMMAD, JR., a.k.a. “Hadie,” 22, of Hartford; and

SHAKIM WHITE, a.k.a. “Country” and “Lil Weezie,” 27, of Meriden.

On April 4, 2012, the grand jury returned an indictment charging the following five individuals with various narcotics offenses related to crack cocaine trafficking:

DEMENTRIUS NAVE, a.k.a. “Cunny,” 33, of Hartford and West Hartford;

TYRONE CRUMP, a.k.a. “KT,” 27, of Hartford;

JUSTIN POWELL, a.k.a. “Jus,” 30, of Hartford;

RAKENT BUNKLEY, a.k.a. “Kent” and “Kent Street,” 23, of Hartford; and

KEVIN ALLEN, 40, of Hartford.

On May 3, 2012, the grand jury returned an indictment charging the following 19 individuals with various offenses related to crack cocaine trafficking and the unlawful possession and distribution of firearms, principally in the area of Enfield Street in Hartford:

CLINTON HILL WESTON, a.k.a. “Ack,” 35, of Hartford;

DANA ADAMS, a.k.a. “Soul,” 42, of Hartford;

NIDA WILLIAMS, a.k.a. “Nija Williams” and “N-Dog,” 34, of Bloomfield;

DERRICK BAILY, a.k.a. “Fry,” 43, of Hartford;

JUSTIN STEPHENSON, a.k.a. “Face,” 25, of Hartford;

MONGO COLEMAN, 38, of Hartford;

MICHAEL BETHEA, a.k.a. “Lil Tren” and “Lil Train,” 44, of New Britain;

MICHAEL BROCKMAN, 41, of Hartford;

EARL DAVIS, 53, of Hartford;

JAEQWAN SHEPPARD, a.k.a. “Quanny” and “Q,” 29, of Hartford;

VASHAWN RAY, 24, of Hartford;

JEFFREY FANIEL, 30, of Hartford;

KEWAN WOODSON, a.k.a. “Piggy” and “Pig,” 19, of Hartford;

REUBEN HARRIS, a.k.a. “Rube,” 41, of Hartford;

MORRIS HARMON, JR., a.k.a. “Smooth,” 53, of Hartford;

PATRICK ROGERS, 22, of Hartford;

JOHNNY ROSA, a.k.a. “Johnny J” and “Johnny G,” 19, of East Hartford;

EARL PATRICK, 47, of Hartford;

JAYQUAN FANIEL, 27, of Hartford; and

STEPHEN TERRILL, 39, of Glastonbury.

If convicted, a number of the defendants face a minimum term of imprisonment of 10 years, a maximum term of life, and fines of up to $10 million. Due to prior narcotics trafficking convictions, a number of defendants face increased penalties.

U.S. Attorney Fein stressed that an indictment is not evidence of guilt. Charges are only allegations, and each defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

This matter was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Northern Connecticut Violent Crimes Task Force, the Connecticut State Police, the Hartford Police Department, and the Connecticut Department of Correction. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Brian P. Leaming.”

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Douglas McNabb – McNabb Associates, P.C.’s
Federal Criminal Defense Attorneys Videos:

Federal Crimes – Be Careful

Federal Crimes – Be Proactive

Federal Crimes – Federal Indictment

Federal Crimes – Detention Hearing

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To find additional federal criminal news, please read Federal Criminal Defense Daily.

Douglas McNabb and other members of the U.S. law firm practice and write and/or report extensively on matters involving Federal Criminal Defense, INTERPOL Red Notice Removal, International Extradition Defense, OFAC SDN Sanctions Removal, International Criminal Court Defense, and US Seizure of Non-Resident, Foreign-Owned Assets. Because we have experience dealing with INTERPOL, our firm understands the inter-relationship that INTERPOL’s “Red Notice” brings to this equation.

The author of this blog is Douglas C. McNabb. Please feel free to contact him directly at mcnabb@mcnabbassociates.com or at one of the offices listed above.


FBI Agents Search Robert Gentile’s Home in Connecticut

May 10, 2012

Fox News on May 10, 2012 released the following:

“Agents swarm reputed mobster’s home in Conn.

Associated Press

HARTFORD, Conn. – FBI agents on Thursday searched the property of a reputed Connecticut mobster who is suspected of withholding information about an infamous unsolved art heist in Boston.

Dozens of agents dug in the yard and removed boxes of evidence from the ranch-style Manchester home of 75-year-old Robert Gentile, who has been detained since February on federal drug and weapons charges.

A lawyer for Gentile, A. Ryan McGuigan, said the FBI was searching his client’s property for a second time because the agency had a new warrant allowing the use of ground-penetrating radar to look for buried weapons. McGuigan said he believes agents are really looking for stolen paintings but will find no such thing.

“This is nonsense,” McGuigan said. “This is the FBI. Are you trying to tell me they missed something the first time? They’re trying to find $500 million of stolen artwork. … All they’re going to find is night crawlers.”

A federal prosecutor said in March the FBI believes Gentile had some involvement with stolen property related to the 1990 heist at Boston’s Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, the largest art robbery in history. Thieves stole masterworks by Rembrandt, Vermeer, Degas and Manet worth more than a half-billion dollars.

McGuigan said Gentile doesn’t know anything about the art heist.

A U.S. attorney’s office spokesman declined to comment. A message left with an FBI spokesman was not immediately returned.

Gentile was arrested three months ago on a charge of selling illegally obtained prescription painkillers. Federal agents say they seized three revolvers, numerous rounds of ammunition and home-made silencers during a Feb. 10 search of Gentile’s home.

Gentile was arraigned last month on weapons charges. He leaned on a cane as he slowly rose before a judge in federal court in Hartford to plead not guilty to three charges.

McGuigan has said prosecutors were “piling on” with the gun charges.

Gentile was convicted of larceny in 1996. Convicted felons may not possess firearms or ammunition that have been transported across state lines or from overseas. Federal law also prohibits possession of a silencer unless it’s been registered.

Each of the three charges carries a maximum prison term of 10 years and a fine of up to $250,000.

Authorities say FBI agents have had unproductive discussions with Gentile about the art theft.”

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Douglas McNabb – McNabb Associates, P.C.’s
Federal Criminal Defense Attorneys Videos:

Federal Crimes – Be Careful

Federal Crimes – Be Proactive

Federal Crimes – Federal Indictment

————————————————————–

To find additional federal criminal news, please read Federal Criminal Defense Daily.

Douglas McNabb and other members of the U.S. law firm practice and write and/or report extensively on matters involving Federal Criminal Defense, INTERPOL Red Notice Removal, International Extradition Defense, OFAC SDN Sanctions Removal, International Criminal Court Defense, and US Seizure of Non-Resident, Foreign-Owned Assets. Because we have experience dealing with INTERPOL, our firm understands the inter-relationship that INTERPOL’s “Red Notice” brings to this equation.

The author of this blog is Douglas C. McNabb. Please feel free to contact him directly at mcnabb@mcnabbassociates.com or at one of the offices listed above.