Dix Hills gym owner arrested on 3 murder charges

(AP) - A gym owner was arrested Wednesday onfederal charges linking him to the killing of an armored-van guardduring a heist 14 years ago and to two murders intended to cover upthe first shooting.
One of those killed was the brother-in-law of Dee Snider, thelead singer of the 1980s head-banging MTV sensation Twisted Sister.Another of the victims was shot to death, stuffed in a trunk anddumped in the ocean.
FBI agents swooped in on Christian Tarantino in a dawn raid athis Dix Hills mansion 40 miles east of Manhattan.
Tarantino, 39, later pleaded not guilty at his arraignment inU.S. District Court in Central Islip and was ordered held withoutbail. If convicted he could face the death penalty.
"I expect him to be vindicated at trial," defense attorneyJames Frocarro told reporters outside the courthouse. Tarantino isdue back in court on Nov. 21.
Federal prosecutors said Tarantino, a co-owner of the SynergyFitness Club in Farmingdale, participated in a June 1994 holdup ofan armored van in Muttontown, making off with nearly $100,000 incash. Prosecutors said that during the robbery one of hisassociates, Louis Dorval, shot and killed guard Julius Baumgardt.
Two months later, Dorval was arrested on unrelatedracketeering-related offenses in New Jersey, including a burglaryhe committed with Tarantino, prosecutors said.
Worried that Dorval, identified by authorities as an associateof the Lucchese crime family, might tell authorities about thearmored van heist, Tarantino and other unidentified conspiratorskilled him, stuffed him in a plastic tool trunk and dumped thetrunk into the Atlantic Ocean, according to the indictment. Fourdays after the Aug. 12, 1994, killing, Coast Guard officersrecovered the trunk floating in the ocean 30 miles off Fire Island.
Prosecutors said another Tarantino business associate, VincentGargiulo, secretly recorded a conversation between the two inSeptember 2000 in which Tarantino acknowledged his role in thekillings of the guard and Dorval.
Three years later, prosecutors said, Gargiulo tried to extortmoney from Tarantino, threatening to take the incriminating tape tolaw enforcement.
On Aug. 18, 2003, Gargiulo was shot and killed on a Manhattanstreet by someone hired by Tarantino, according to the indictment.After Gargiulo's murder, the secret recording was turned over toNew York City police. Gargiulo's sister Suzette, a costumedesigner, is married to the rock star Snider.
Tarantino could get the death penalty if convicted in theGargiulo killing because the victim was a potential witness in afederal prosecution, authorities said.
U.S. Attorney Benton Campbell said the indictment was the resultof years of "relentless and painstaking investigation" by theFBI, New York Police Department and Nassau County police.
"In addition to providing some solace to the victims' families,this prosecution demonstrates that the government will never giveup in its pursuit of those who commit violent crimes and try tocover their tracks and obstruct justice through murder," Campbellsaid.