NY gym owner gets prison for murder conspiracy

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CENTRAL ISLIP, N.Y. (AP) - A New York businessman was sentenced Wednesday to three life terms in prison following his conviction on murder and conspiracy charges in the deaths of three men, including the brother-in-law of "Twisted Sister" lead singer Dee Snider.

Christian Tarrantino, 46, who suffers from Parkinson's disease, insisted he was innocent of the crimes before being sentenced by U.S. District Court Judge Joanna Seybert. His attorney has said he will appeal the convictions.

Federal prosecutors said Tarantino, who owned several fitness clubs on Long Island, had previously been convicted of murder for his involvement in the 1994 killing of an armored car driver during a robbery. A suspected associate in the robbery was later killed by Tarantino and dumped in the Atlantic Ocean, prosecutors said.

Tarantino was convicted of murder conspiracy in the 2003 death of Snider's brother-in-law. Prosecutors said Vincent Gargiulo was killed on Tarantino's orders after Gargiulo, a former business partner of Tarantino's, threatened to reveal his friend's involvement in the two earlier killings.

Prosecutors said Gargiulo told Tarantino he had secretly tape-recorded him admitting his role in the 1994 case. Gargiulo was shot in the face in August 2003 as he walked to work at a construction site Manhattan. Several months later, Gargiulo's tape recording was anonymously mailed to NYPD homicide detectives.

Snider, who sat in the back row of the crowded courtroom with his wife Suzette and other relatives, accompanied his wife to the podium when she addressed the judge about the loss of her brother.

"Vinnie thought Chris was his friend," Suzette Snider said. "Vinnie would have died for Chris and it's ironic because Vinnie did die because of Chris."

Relatives of the armored car driver, Julius Baumgardt, also spoke before the sentencing was imposed, noting they have waited nearly 20 years for justice.

A jury convicted Tarantino in 2011 in the 1994 murders of Baumgardt _ the armored car driver _ and subsequent killing of Louis Dorval, who was an accomplice in the holdup killed because Tarantino feared he would go to the police, prosecutors said. The jury in that trial deadlocked over whether Tarantino was guilty in the death of Gargiulo, but he was convicted of conspiring to kill Gargiulo in a retrial in May 2012.

Tarantino, who had supporters speak on his behalf urging leniency, spoke briefly after the victims' relatives expressed their desire for him to suffer in prison. As his arms shook from the apparent effects of the Parkinson's disease, Tarantino assured them: "Talk about suffering? You can count on it. I am." He added: "I feel sorry for the families (of the victims). I am going through my own personal hell, which I am sure will make you happy."

Seybert said it was clear to her that Tarantino was not remorseful, calling him, "violent, cruel, cunning person who chose to commit these crimes."

The prison sentences will run concurrently.

(Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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