CASE CLOSED … what really happened in the 2001 anthrax attacks?

* Is Jeb Bush withholding the same info from early February 2001 (see Anthrax threat.doc) that his brother withheld about Bin Laden/Egyptian Islamic Jihad anthrax threat (see early February 2001 PDB)?

Posted by DXer on October 22, 2015


Background on President Bush’s withholding of the PDB:

  • The threat to use mailed anthrax was described to President Bush by the CIA in a PDB in early February 2001 that is still classified. See 911 Commission Report.
  • In January 2001, a bail hearing was announced for the Egyptian Islamic Jihad/Vanguards of Conquest #2. A threat to use anthrax was immediately sent to those responsible for the detention and threatened deportation to Cairo. Bail was denied on October 5 and then the mailer rushed to mail the good stuff.
  • The lawyer for the EIJ spiritual guide had announced in 1999 that Zawahiri intended to use anthrax to retaliate for the rendering and detention of senior EIJ leaders — and the plan was confirmed by the detained EIJ military leader (and another shura leader who was working for Egyptian intelligence services).
  • The late January threat was sent by the same people who sent letter bombs to the people symbolically responsible for the WTC 1993 plotters.
  • It was embarrassing to the Bush Administration because not only were they given express warning, but it is the former assistant of then White House Chief of Staff who the FBI suspects of accessing the biochemistry information relating to the concentration of anthrax using silica. See filing of defendant’s defense counsel.
  • The factual question of the day relates to the culture medium used by Ivins, and why the FBI did not allege that the recipe of the culture medium he used in the lab supported the searches they did.

72 Responses to “* Is Jeb Bush withholding the same info from early February 2001 (see Anthrax threat.doc) that his brother withheld about Bin Laden/Egyptian Islamic Jihad anthrax threat (see early February 2001 PDB)?”

  1. DXer said

    Jeb Bush Has Learned the Wrong Lessons from His Family Tradition
    The Atlantic‎ – 1 hour ago
    Bush did not keep America safe from the 17 people killed by the Beltway snipers, or from whoever sent anthrax through the U.S. postal system. Bush didn’t …

  2. DXer said

    When you go to page 39/106 of

    You will find that the email on Jeb Bush’s website of his emails has now been edited or is displayed in a format to omit the Anthrax threats_doc attachment.

    Please restore and post the full version displaying the Attachment. Thank you.

  3. DXer said

    Is it time to concede that Donald Trump is likely to win the GOP nomination?
    By Philip Bump October 21 at 9:50 AM

    “[T]he real numbers, including those in a new Washington Post-ABC News poll, support the idea that Trump will continue to lead and that he could win the nomination.”

    Comment: The problem with handing the presidency off from one family member to another is that we don’t get a fresh look at things. Is it time to push the “refresh” button on democracy?

  4. DXer said

    Anthrax, Al Qaeda and Ayman Zawahiri: The Infiltration of US Biodefense

  5. DXer said

    In the interest of transparency, Jeb Bush has uploaded the February 8, 2001 email here:

  6. DXer said

  7. DXer said

    In connection with the withheld February 8, 2001 “Anthrax threats.doc,” I believe:

    Tim Moore was the FDLE Regional Director in 2001 — and was a frequent correspondent with Jeb Bush updating him on events at AMI and bioterrorism generally;

    Joyce Dawley in 2001 was the FDLE Regional Director in Orlando; and Lance Newman in 2001 was the FDLE Regional Director in Tampa.

    I believe the sender, Larry Bieltz, in 2001 was a FDLE Special Agent working out of Orlando. (He is now retired). Perhaps one of these individuals can share what the attachment described.

    DXer … if we knew what President Bush knew in February 2001, Amerithrax would be seen with entirely different eyes
    Posted by Lew Weinstein on March 2, 2010

    This is the Summer 2001 Briefing That President Bush Received On Bin Laden and Planes But The February 2001 PDB On Bin Laden And Anthrax That President Bush Received From The CIA Is Still Classified
    Posted by Lew Weinstein on February 13, 2012

  8. DXer said

    Trump Is Right About 9/11
    George W. Bush didn’t do all he could to prevent the attack—and it’s time Republicans confronted that fact.

    • OCT 19, 2015

    There’s no way of knowing for sure if Bush could have stopped the September 11 attacks. But that’s not the right question. The right question is: Did Bush do everything he could reasonably have to stop them, given what he knew at the time? And he didn’t. It’s not even close.

    When the Bush administration took office in January 2001, CIA Director George Tenet and National Security Council counterterrorism “czar” Richard Clarke both warned its incoming officials that al-Qaeda represented a grave threat. During a transition briefing early that month at Blair House, according to Bob Woodward’s Bush at War, Tenet and his deputy James Pavitt listed Osama bin Laden as one of America’s three most serious national-security challenges. That same month, Clarke presented National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice with a plan he had been working on since al-Qaeda’s attack on the USS Cole the previous October. It called for freezing the network’s assets, closing affiliated charities, funneling money to the governments of Uzbekistan, the Philippines and Yemen to fight al-Qaeda cells in their country, initiating air strikes and covert operations against al-Qaeda sites in Afghanistan, and dramatically increasing aid to the Northern Alliance, which was battling al-Qaeda and the Taliban there.

    But both Clarke and Tenet grew deeply frustrated by the way top Bush officials responded. Clarke recounts that when he briefed Rice about al-Qaeda, “her facial expression gave me the impression that she had never heard the term before.” On January 25, Clarke sent Rice a memo declaring that, “we urgentlyneed…a Principals [Cabinet] level review on the al Qida [sic] network.” Instead, Clarke got a sub-cabinet, Deputies level, meeting in April, two months after the one on Iraq.


    By early summer, Clarke was so despondent that he asked to be reassigned. “This administration,” he later testified, “didn’t either believe me that there was an urgent problem or was unprepared to act as though there were an urgent problem. And I thought, if the administration doesn’t believe its national coordinator for counterterrorism when he says there’s an urgent problem and if it’s unprepared to act as though there’s an urgent problem, then probably I should get another job.” In July, the Deputies Committee finally agreed to schedule a Principals level meeting on Clarke’s plan. But the schedule for July was already full, and in August too many Cabinet members were on vacation, so the meeting was set for September.

    During that same time period, the CIA was raising alarms too. According to Kurt Eichenwald, a former New York Times reporter given access to the Daily Briefs prepared by the intelligence agencies for President Bush in the spring and summer of 2001, the CIA told the White House by May 1 that “a group presently in the United States” was planning a terrorist attack. On June 22, the Daily Brief warned that al-Qaeda strikes might be “imminent.”

    The CIA fought back. “The U.S. is not the target of a disinformation campaign by Usama Bin Laden,” declared the Daily Brief on June 29, noting that the al-Qaeda leader had recently told a Middle Eastern journalist to expect an attack. The following day, the CIA included in its Daily Brief an article entitled “Bin Laden Threats Are Real.” On July 1, the Brief predicted that an attack “will occur soon.”

    Then, on July 10, Tenet and CIA counterterrorism head Cofer Black held an emergency meeting with Rice to push for action against Bin Laden. Butaccording to Woodward’s State of Denial, “both felt they were not getting through to Rice.” She “seemed focused on other administration priorities, especially the ballistic defense missile system that Bush had campaigned on” and “Tenet left the meeting feeling frustrated.”

    By this point, staffers at CIA counterterrorism headquarters had grown so dejected that they, like Clarke, debated asking for a transfer.

    The warnings continued. On July 11, the CIA sent word to the White House that a Chechen with links to al-Qaeda had warned that something big was coming. On July 24, the Daily Brief said the expected al-Qaeda attack had been postponed but was still being planned. Finally, on August 6, the CIA titled its Daily Brief: “Bin Ladin Determined to Strike the US.” The briefing didn’t mention a specific date or target, but it did mention the possibility of attack in New York and mentioned that the terrorists might hijack airplanes. In Angler, Barton Gellmannotes that it was the 36th time the CIA had raised al-Qaeda with President Bush since he took office.

    Would the Bush administration have stopped the 9/11 attacks had it taken the threat more seriously? Possibly. On August 3, a Saudi named Mohamed al-Kahtani tried to enter the United States in Orlando, Florida, allegedly to participate in the 9/11 plot. He was sent back home by a customs official whose only concern was that he might become an illegal immigrant. On August 16, FBI and INS agents in Minnesota arrested another potential hijacker, Zacarias Moussaoui, after being tipped off by his flight instructor. But despite numerous requests, they were denied permission to search his apartment or laptop. These incidents “might have exposed the” 9/11 plot, writes Eichenwald, “had the government been on high alert.”

    • DXer said


      OCTOBER 19, 2015
      Donald Trump and Jeb Bush, the 9/11 Bullies

      As Lawrence Wright has written for The New Yorker, in a reproach to those who argue that 9/11 showed the need to remove limits on the N.S.A., the F.B.I. had a warrant in hand that could have helped stop the attack, if it hadn’t been bureaucratically thwarted. “There was no need for a metadata-collection program,” Wright concludes. In The Atlantic, Peter Beinart provides a catalogue of signals and warnings that the Bush Administration failed to act on, partly owing to its focus on Iraq, and points out that, although it’s impossible to know whether heeding those warnings would have stopped the attacks, raising that possibility hardly puts a person in the realm of the “truthers”—as Ari Fleischer, George W. Bush’s press secretary, said of Trump. Jeb Bush responded by saying that even opening the subject is “pathetic.” Anyway, he told Tapper, he was really talking about how “my brother responded to a crisis”: after the attacks, “he united the country, he organized our country, and he kept us safe.”

      And that is where Jeb Bush most gets lost. He is setting Trump—and not just Trump—up for the obvious reply: maybe no terrorist group followed up with anything like the September 11th attacks, but George W. Bush launched an invasion of Iraq that crumbled into civil war, destabilized the region, led to the neglect of Afghanistan, and laid the foundation for ISIS. By keeping “us” safe, does Jeb Bush also mean the more than four thousand Americans who died in Iraq, the more than three thousand who died in Afghanistan, and the many thousands more who were wounded? It’s a good guess that “us” does not encompass the Iraqis who died; their estimated number ranges from a hundred thousand to more than half a million. Perhaps by “safe,” Bush only means “complacent.”

  9. DXer said

    Trump’s 9/11 sparring with Bush: The left piles on Jeb’s brother
    By Howard KurtzPublished October 21,

    But it’s also true that the classified presidential daily briefing on Aug. 6, 2001 warned Bush: “Bin Laden Determined to Strike in U.S.”—and there were other warnings as well. …

    Trump also told anchor Alisyn Camerota that “they knew an attack was coming. George Tenet, the CIA director, knew in advance there would be an attack, and he said so.”

    It sounded at first glance like Trump might be wading into murky waters, but the key phrase is “an attack.” Tenet was indeed worried about an al-Qaeda attack—he insisted on a meeting with Condi Rice to press the point—but he didn’t know when and where, or that planes would be hijacked.


    Mr. Trump is now trying to blunt that rebuke by distorting the truth about the hijackers and the
    Osama bin Laden era…Blaming George W. Bush for the 9/11 attacks is like blaming President Obama for the recession that followed the 2008 financial panic,” the Journal says. “The rise of al Qaeda had been going on for years, and its first attack on U.S. soil was its bombing of the World Trade Center in 1993.”

    The newly released Senior Executive Brief, dated 7 August 2001 reports that Bin Laden wanted to follow example of WTC 1993 bomber Ramzi Yousef (associated with subtilis expert)
    Posted on June 27, 2012

    The address/phone number associated with the WTC 1993 bomber Ramzi Yousef was frequently called by subtilis expert Walied Samarrai in February 1993 (up to the time and hour of the first arrests). See WTC 1993 trial, Exhibit 818. That address is separately associated with Dr. Samarrai, a subtilis expert, in this Intellius Report. Did the subtilis expert know WTC 1993 bomber Ramzi Yousef? Who does Walied Samarrai think is responsible for the anthrax mailings? Is it correct that in 2001 Professor Samarrai lived at one of the two addresses about 20 miles from the mailbox in Princeton?

    Posted by Lew Weinstein on June 7, 2011

    Former Amerithrax investigator Bradley Garrett, who took the lead on the Hatfill searches, rode on the plane with KSM’s nephew, WTC bomber Ramzi Yousef, upon his rendering to the US. How did Agent Garrett exclude the subtilis expert living 20 miles from the mailbox who frequently called and was called by the number associated with Abdul Yasin and Ramzi Yousef in February 1993? On the mistaken grounds that Dr. Ayman Zawahiri did not have access to virulent anthrax?
    Posted by Lew Weinstein on May 22, 2011

  10. DXer said

    Donald Trump ramps up assault on George W. Bush: ‘We were not safe’
    Chris Villani Tuesday, October 20, 2015

    The statement was made that ‘under my brother, we were safe,’” Trump said this morning, referring to an exchange during the most recent Republican debate. “But I said ‘wait a minute, we weren’t safe because the World Trade Center just came down, thousands of people were killed, it was horrific.’ It was the greatest attack in the history of this country, so you can’t say we were safe.”

    Trump also criticized Bush 43’s invasion of Iraq, which he said he opposed at the time.

    “We attacked Iraq, we destabilized the Middle East, we spent $2 trillion…and lives, thousands of lives and wounded warriors…and what do we have for it? Nothing,” Trump said. “I didn’t want to go into Iraq because I said we would be destabilizing the Middle East.”

    “Jeb Bush is a very nice person…in a way, it’s amazing he hasn’t done better,” Trump said. “He’s doing poorly in the polls. He might have been the front-runner at one point, but he’s not anymore.”

    “The FBI and the CIA and various agencies were not talking to each other, which is management in all fairness,” Trump said on Herald Radio today. “They didn’t like each other, they were jealous of each other, and a lot of things skipped through.”

    Trump added that he had presciently warned of the danger posed by 9/11 mastermind Osama Bin Laden.

    “In my book from 2000, I was talking about Osama Bin Laden, I said you better watch him,” he said.

    “Does anybody actually blame my brother for the attacks on 9/11? If they do, they’re totally marginalized in our society,” Jeb Bush responded on Sunday on CNN. He added that after the attacks, his brother “united the country, he organized our country, and he kept us safe.

  11. DXer said

    Trump triples down on George W. Bush’s responsibility for 9/11
    Washington Post – ‎2 hours ago‎

  12. DXer said

    If you ask, you may be able to obtain a redacted copy of the attachment under FOIA.

  13. DXer said
    SUNDAY, JUN 7, 2015 11:00 AM EDT

    The elephant in the room: Why Jeb can’t escape his last name

    The Florida governor insists that he’s his “own man.” The American public appears to think otherwise

    Bush later tried to walk back his comments and distance himself from his brother’s Iraq policy, but the political damage had already been done. As conservative talk show host Laura Ingraham put it: “You can’t think going into Iraq now, as a sane human being, was the right thing to do. That’s like you have no ability to learn from past mistakes at all.”

    This past week Bush faced another test of whether he could be “his own man” and honestly assess his brother’s legacy. In an appearance on CBS’s “Face the Nation,” he was asked by host Bob Schieffer to provide his views on the “successes and mistakes” of the George W. Bush administration. Jeb Bush said “the successes clearly are protecting the homeland” and he asserted that his brother “kept us safe.”

    Of course, George W. Bush was president on Sept. 11, 2001 — a day that America was not “kept safe.” George W. Bush was also president in the months leading up to that catastrophic attack — the same months in which he was given a memo headlined “Bin Laden Determined to Strike In U.S.” And as MSNBC’s Steve Benen argues, even if you somehow pretend George W. Bush only became president on Sept.12, 2001, the whole “kept us safe” idea is questionable at best.

    “Shortly after 9/11, for example, there were deadly anthrax attacks,” Benen wrote this week. “There were scores of terrorist attacks against U.S. troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. There was an increase in the number of terrorist attacks on U.S. diplomatic outposts around the world.”

    Jeb Bush will no doubt have more opportunities to try to distinguish himself from his family members. If he can’t, though, even the enormous advantages that come with his last name might not be enough to carry him to victory.

  14. DXer said

    Jeb Bush argues experience matters in Michigan
    By Ashley Killough, CNN
    Updated 7:59 PM ET, Thu May 28, 2015

    Visiting a Michigan plant that manufactures antidotes for medical emergencies and bioterrorism threats, Bush recalled dealing with the 2001 anthrax attack that killed five people in Boca Raton, Florida, not long after the 9/11 attacks.

    “It was extraordinary how scary it was because there was not enough information at the time and we got through it,” Bush said at a town hall hosted by Emergent BioSolutions in Lansing, which produces an anthrax vaccine.

    “I had a front row seat because of my brother of course — we all did to watch what happened — but I also as governor really took this seriously,” he said.

    Bush’s memories dealing with anthrax illustrated a point that he hopes will set him apart from a younger, less practiced pool of competition. In his comments, Bush tip-toed near ‘3 a.m. phone call’ territory, saying that when bad things happen, voters will want someone who’s long been in the driver’s seat.

    “There’s going to be all sorts of disasters that take place — natural disasters, attacks on the homeland — it’s a certainty in an uncertain world that this president and the next president is going to have to confront all sorts of challenges where his leadership or her leadership is going to matter,” he said.

    Bush lamented that in today’s world “experience is somewhat discounted” while “giving a mighty fine speech is somewhat elevated.”

  15. DXer said

    On white powder mailings generally, I would just triple bag them and then make myself a pot of coffee while waiting for it to be picked up for testing. I normally don’t post about them. But with a mailing to Canadian ministers, I’ll take the opportunity to point out the January 2001 powder letters — that I understand to have been the subject of the February 2001 PDB and this attachment of then Governor Bush.

    White powder sent to four Canada ministers
    2015-03-06 08:58

    The envelopes arrived as parliament debates a controversial anti-terror law, championed by Blaney.

    The episode calls to mind anthrax scares and hoaxes in October 2001 in the United States and other countries in which anthrax-laced letters were sent to journalists and lawmakers, infecting several people.

    – AFP

  16. DXer said

    How to Get Terrorists to Talk
    A former CIA interrogator on the “do’s” and “don’ts” of interrogation.
    Rolf Mowatt-Larssen
    February 18, 2015

    I ran the CIA’s operations to counter al-Qaeda’s efforts to acquire weapons of mass destruction (WMD) from 2001-2004.

    By the time Khaled Shaykh Muhammed (KSM) was arrested in March 2003, the CIA had confirmed the existence of al-Qaeda secret programs to acquire nuclear and biological weapons. We knew that Osama Bin Laden personally approved a systematic, long term effort that began several years before the September 11 attacks. We knew that al-Qaeda’s deputy chief, Ayman Zawahiri, personally managed the programs. We had collected numerous names, locations, and were aggressively pursuing leads to WMD in dozens of countries. Much of the information that we collected after the 9/11 attacks was corroborated by our international intelligence partners.

    But there were key questions for which we did not have answers. Had al-Qaeda managed to acquire WMD?

    We did not know.

    Our concerns in this regard were heightened when Pakistani biologist Rauf Ahmed confessed in 2002 that he personally discussed causing a mass casualty attack in the United States using bacillus anthracis with Ayman Zawahiri. Among the pieces of evidence was a letter that Ahmed had written to the al-Qaeda Deputy Chief relating the progress of his efforts. We were able to confirm Ahmed’s biological weapon-related relationship with Zawahiri through a number of sources.
    When the interrogation of KSM began, my group made a conscious decision to pursue WMD-related debriefing sessions without employing enhanced measures of interrogation. The reason was simple: we wanted to avoid a situation where KSM felt pressured to fabricate information.

    In addition, we didn’t know if KSM had detailed knowledge of al-Qaeda’s WMD efforts. Our information suggested KSM was on the periphery of the biological weapon and nuclear programs. By all accounts, he was not directly involved in them. That made sense to us, because al-Qaeda took great care to compartmentalize its plots against the United States. Only a dozen or so senior members of the group were aware of specifics of the 9/11 attacks. If al-Qaeda aspired to use a WMD against the United States, the leadership would take great precautions to limit the “need to know” of what was being planned for future attacks.

    With this in mind, I dispatched an officer with an encyclopedic knowledge of the terrorist organization and their WMD programs. Her instructions were to duel wits with KSM, to question him methodically, flash hints of what we know, and patiently point out inconsistencies in his responses. We had another advantage to introduce into the debriefings. KSM was captured in an al-Qaeda safe house. KSM was arrested during a raid the home of a Pakistani biologist, Abdul Quddos Khan.
    Pakistani intelligence also seized several computers with incriminating information concerning WMD during the KSM capture operation, including a document attributed to senior al- Qaeda operative Adnan Shukrijumah. The document with the heading “The Martyr Jaffar al-Tayyar” featured a map with an arrow from Afghanistan pointing to the continental United States. This was concerning, because the FBI had reports suggesting that Shukrijumah may have had contact with al- Qaeda operative Mohammed Atta in the US, prior to 9/11.

    If nothing else, KSM would have to account for the WMD- related documents seized in his possession.

    During the debriefing, KSM sought to manipulate and deceive the WMDdebriefer. This was no surprise. KSM was wily and committed to his cause. The CIA had recovered training documents concerning al-Qaeda’s resistance tactics. The group assumed the CIA would use the kind of methods they themselves would use on American hostages, including unspeakable methods of torture. The al-Qaeda torture manual outlined ways to counter presumed US interrogation and torture tactics. Nothing CIA had in mind remotely matched the terrorists’ expectations of what would happen to them, if they were to come into US custody.
    For her part, the CIA debriefer methodically pointed out the discrepancies in his story. She showed him printed copies of the “take” from the computers seized at the safe house. KSM blinked when she correctly pointed out that we had found the nuclear and biological weapons programs, and only needed KSM’scooperation to confirm what we already knew.
    The turning point came when she provided details of al-Qaeda’s WMD programs that KSM was unaware of. His face betrayed the moment he realized the WMD programs had been concealed, even from him. It wasn’t possible to read his mind, of course, but KSM’s self-importance, his arrogance, presented the vulnerability we were looking for. He was wounded by the notion that the mastermind of 9/11 was not brought into the loop on possible future attacks.
    KSM began talking.

    That night, KSM completed a “homework assignment” to flesh out details on al-Qaeda’s WMD programs. He rendered a written report containing crucial details of the nuclear and biological weapons programs and provided new leads for us to pursue.


    In my experience, the most important ingredient in successful detainee interrogations was the expertise of the debriefer, not the employment of physical means in order to compel a dubious confession. On many occasions, the value of information obtained through interrogation was proven beyond a doubt.


    For example, we ultimately found the crude laboratory in Kandahar, Afghanistan, where Pakistani biologist Rauf Ahmed stashed equipment he had ordered to Ayman Zawahiri’s specifications. We went to the hospital laboratory in Kandahar where Malaysian “Anthrax CEO” Yazid Sufaat claimed to have isolated a virulent form of bacillus anthracis. There, a joint FBI-CIA-military team collected forensic samples and evidence of biological weapons-related activity, precisely as Sufaat had claimed under interrogation by Malaysian authorities.

    Rolf Mowatt-Larssen is a senior fellow with Harvard Kennedy School’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs. He served as a CIA intelligence officer for 23 years, where he headed the WMD department and counterterrorism center among other positions. He served also as director of Intelligence and Counterintelligence at the U.S. Department of Energy.

  17. DXer said


    Possible leads in $500 million Boston museum robbery 25 years later: book
    The greatest art heist ever, when $500 million worth of masterpieces disappeared from Boston’s Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in 1990, is still unsolved. But Stephen Kurkjian thinks he may have found the small-time gangster who masterminded the heist, he writes in ‘Master Thieves: The Boston Gangsters Who Pulled Off the World’s Greatest Art Heist.’

    Comment: Steve Kurkjian is speaking here Wednesday night at 5:30. My vote has long been that the paintings are here under the concrete slab at Bobby Guarente’s old house in Maine. Gentile was in the concrete slab laying business in 1991.

    • DXer said

      Scott M. Burnstein, “Mafia Art-Heist Mystery” – Part 1

    • DXer said

      Scott M. Burnstein, “Mafia Art-Heist Mystery” – Part 2

      • DXer said

        Above I have linked a picture of Bobby Guarente’s old house and the concrete slab I’ve mentioned in the past. I don’t know the location of the cabin mentioned by Elena. (But Marty Leppo represented Bobby in 1991 on a gun charge and so may know). At the time I was sent packing, I was trying to locate a second white house in the hinterlands that the nice man at the taxidermy place down the road told me about. Going north, you took a left at the quonset house, and up a curve and hill, you passed a house with a lot of gnomes in the yard, then took a right to get to a white house. It was another residence, I’m told, associated with Bobby Guarente at the time. There was a cocaine bust that was hushed up at the time. Maybe the retired agent who is Mr. Burnstein’s source would know whether the FBI brought ground penetrating radar to check under this slab — like they had in a second try of Gentile’s Connecticut residence.

      • DXer said

        In his book due out in March, at page 204, Kurkjian writes that Bobby Donati, who he reports one of the of the robbers, was a good friend of Bobby Guarente. “My Bobby was close to Bobby Donati. They knew each other as teenagers. Bobby even brought his son on a fishing trip up to our place in Maine.”

        “When Donati disappeared in September 1991, Guarente was one of the first individuals that members of Donati’s family called to see where he might be.”

        “According to sources who knew him, Donati wasn’t prepared for the level of politics attention devoted to the Gardner theft. It’s easy to envision the scenario: afraid for his safety, he buries the paintings for a time, until the furor died down. Then sometime in 1990 or 1991, he passes one or several of the works to someone he trusts: Bobby Guarente.”

        “Earle Bergham, the close friend of Guarente’s in Maine, is convinced the friendship between Guarente and Donati included dealings on the Gardner paintings. “Bobby Donati did that job,” he said of the Gardner theft “Then he gave some of them [paintings] to Guarente when he became concerned about his own safety.”

      • DXer said

        As Mr. Kurkjian explains, the FBI does not seem to buy Mr. Kurkjian’s focus on Bobby Donati.

        Donati died in September 1991, and was stuffed in a trunk. Thus, Bobby Donati is not free to speak to the question. Regardless whether Mr. Kurkjian is right about Bobby Donati, or instead David Turner was the key robber as author Ulrich Boser has suggested, under either theory the paintings were turned over to crew member Bobby Guarente for safekeeping.

        Thus, the question I would put to the FBI or the museum’s security director Tony is “Was ground penetrating radar ever used at Bobby Guarente’s house in Maine like it was Bobby Gentile’s house in Connecticut?” As any Syracuse medallion hunter knows, talk is cheap. The first rule of treasure hunting is you need to go out and look.

      • DXer said

        I haven’t read Mr. Kurkjian’s book and that is the first order of business. But I’ll share my tentative understanding. After Bobby Guarente’s passing, I believe his wife Elena Guarente’s “soul mate” came to be Earle Berghman. (I may have posted the name a couple years ago on a true crime blog after speaking to the clerk in Maine.) The clerk just said that some fellow was a mob contemporary of Bobby and they would know each other. I believe he, Elena and Elena’s daughter attempted to pitch the museum the paintings using Bernie, an attorney in Boston. But the chips submitted were deemed not to be from the Isabella Gardner paintings.

        I have posted the image of the concrete slab under which I have ventured the paintings are hidden. If Elena and Earle Berghman were to say that the paintings are under there (the property when I last looked a long time ago was still owned by Elena), the FBI with her consent could bring ground penetrating radar and/or digging equipment. Or of course the FBI could just get a warrant. I believe it was Elena who said to Steve: “You need to come to Maine to talk to Earle Berghman. He’s my soul mate. You two need to sort this out. If you don’t come, I’m calling back the feds.”

        It may be awkward for Elena to point to the paintings — if they in fact are still in her backyard. But she needn’t be shy. It may be Earle and another of Steve’s sources that is trying to steer things away from David Turner, thus making it possible to return the paintings without any one’s hard feelings on the part of Mr. Turner. I don’t see anything in Steve’s discussion of Bobby Donati as exculpatory of David Turner — and just see hearsay by parties with a financial interest in the matter. I’ll leave that to the experts to sort out. It feels like spin from Marty Leppo, Myles C. etc. For its part, the FBI seems focused only on David Turner, Carmello Merlino, Bobby Guarente and Robert Gentile. We can wish the FBI and museum good luck in finding the paintings.

      • DXer said

        Now I have a copy of the book. I see that Elene Guarente said that to Robert Gentile:

        “Bobby, I’m in need of money, ,” she began. “I know my husband gave you those stolen paintings. You need to come to Maine to talk to Earle Berghman. He’s my soul mate. You two need to sort this out. If you don’t come, I”m calling back the feds.”

        p. 90 – Tony Amore, security director, advanced Elene Guarente $1,000 from the museum to have her car fixed in 2010.

        Mrs. Guarente told Amore and FBI agent Geoff Kelly that three pictures had been turned over by her husband to Robert Gentile in a restaurant parking lot

        p. 142 “But what was apparently never told the grand jury — or Kelly and Amore — was an account given me by Guarente’s best friend in Maine, Earle E. Berghman. Several years before Elene told authorities that her late husband had held onto the Gardner paintings, Berghman tried — without success — to make the same connection.

        According to Berghman, about a year after Bobby Guarente’s death in 2004, he was approached by Guarente’s daughter and told that she recalled her father owning a painting that was similar to Rembrandt’s “Storm on the Sea of Galilee. “In fact, she told me that Bobby had it hanging in the living room of the house he lived in with her,” Berghman said. “I’m telling you and you can mark my words, Bobby Guarente is at the center fo this web.”

        Berghman, as it turns out, knew Guarente well. While he says they got to know each other hanging out and hunting in the woods surrounding their homes in central Maine, the state police had their eyes on them and other associates. According to Maine state police reports, the pairs were under investigation for interstate drug trafficking in 1991.

        “Berghman decided that the best thing for him to do was to seek legal advice, and he contacted Bernard Grossberg, … The three of them — Grossberg, Jeanine Guarente, Guarente’s daughter from an earlier marriage, and Berghman — reached a deal: If Guarente was able to find out what had happened to the paintings, then the three of them would split whatever reward money was forthcoming.”

        “Hiatt {a museum trustee working on recovery of the paintings) says he thought so little of what they had to offer that he never passed on the information to the FBI or the museum’s key investigator, Anthony Amore. Yet eight years later, the FBI was strongly suggesting that Guarente had been a central player in the stashing of the artwork.” (p. 144)

        p. 180 In telephone interviews, however, she said she did not recall telling the grand jury that her husband had given more than one painting to Gentile.

        “With her approval, federal authorities conducted a thorough search of the farmhouse in Madison where her husband lived while in Maine. They found nothing.”

        “And then there’s the time she and an old friend of Guarente’s approached a lawyer in Boston in 2005 with paint chips that Guarente’s daughter, Jeanine, provided, saying they came from the missing Gardner masterpiece “Storm on the Sea of Gaililee.” The tests were negative. As a result, the Guarente connection rests on the accounts that were secondhand or could not be corroborated with physical evidence.”

        p. 180 “But when agents pushed [Robert Gentile] to assist David Turner, who attempted to connect with Gentile from federal prison, he hesitated out of concern that it might place him in danger.

        Gentile’s problems really began, though, when he broke off those discussions completely after agents suggested he introduce an undercover G-man to Turner’s underworld cohorts in the hope that the agent might locate a clear path to the artwork. Frustrated, the FBI dispatched an undercover informant to the used car lot where Gentile was working to buy prescription drugs from him. After spurning the overtures at first, Gentile relented. He was soon indicted on — and pleaded guilty to– related charges.”

        “All because Elene Guarente told them something that they knew wasn’t true.”

      • DXer said

        I’ve long ventured that the Isabella Gardner paintings likely are ruined — making it the biggest act of vandalism in history. The FBI and museum nonetheless have taken the position that they expected to recover them in good condition.

        Although we can hope the museum and FBI are right in their optimism, Mr. Kurkjian may have just rained on their parade.
        At page 125 of Kurkjian’s book due in stores on March 10, Mr. Kurkjian discusses the false floor under the shed at Robert Gentile’s Hartford residence. Mr. Gentile’s son explained:

        “”his father had placed a false floor in the front of the shed, and beneath it, he had dug a deep pit, and inside the pit there would be a large plastic, Tupperware-type container.

        Whatever’s important will be in a plastic container inside that pit, the younger Gentile told the agents.

        His instructions set the agents off to a mad scramble, in which they tore up the false floor inside the shed, and found the deep pit under it and the big plastic container inside — a big empty plastic container.”

        [ Now they brought ground penetrating radar to the Hartford residence on the second day, as I recall. But I’ve never had any confirmation that they brought it up to Guarente’s residence. I think Mrs. G. and Earle deserve tit for tat. ]

        At page 126, Mr. Kurkjian description of events is, I believe, exclusive and major news:

        “”Shown the container, young Gentile had one or more piece of compelling information: A few years before, there had been a severe rainstorm in the area; water had flooded their backyard and gotten into the shed and even the ditch had been destroyed, Gentile’s son told the agents, adding that he had never seen his father as upset in his life as he was about the loss.”

      • DXer said

        “Several years later, Mr. Kelly and Mr. Amore said, informants drew their attention to two associates of Mr. Merlino, George A. Reissfelder and Leonard V. DiMuzio.

        Mr. DiMuzio, who was shot to death in 1991, was a skillful burglar who had long been involved with the Merlino gang. The investigators say that Mr. Reissfelder, who died of an apparent drug overdose the same year, owned a 1986 red Dodge Daytona, the same model of car that several witnesses have said they spotted idling outside the Gardner on the night of the break-in. The two passengers in the Daytona, the witnesses said, were dressed as Boston police officers.”


        No matter what path a theory takes in Isabella Gardner, there is never any shortage of dead bodies to step over. The whodunnit itself is of marginal interest — it bears mainly on where the pirate treasure may be hidden..

        • DXer said

          Revisiting the Gardner Heist


          The situation is complicated by the fact that Turner appears to have killed many of those who participated in the robbery. A government informant once claimed that Lenny DiMuzio was involved in the heist. He was shot to death—his body found under a bridge in East Boston—and law enforcement believes Turner was the triggerman.


        • DXer said

          Kurkjian addresses Leonard V. DiMuzio — revealed this week in the NYT as the FBI’s choice for a participant in the robbery — in his must-read true crime history due out March 10

          “Then, two months after the Gardner heist, on May 18, 1990, Turner, Pappas, and a third gangster, Leonard DiMuzio, were arrested after breaking into a home in Tewksbury, a small town north of Boston. Even though the charges included possession of a handgun, and DiMuzio admitted the three were involved in the theft, Turner was sentenced to only sixty days in prison.

          Although they got off practically scot-free after their arrest, the trio never worked again, and in March 1991 DiMuzio disappeared… Several months later his body was found, stuffed into the trunk of his car, dead from multiple gunshots to the head.

          Police were without clues in both the Canton robbery and DiMuzio’s murder until April 1992, when state police arrested Merlino and Pappas — but not Turner — for cocaine trafficking. With past criminal records, both Pappas and Merlino realized they faced serious time if they were convicted, so they decided to cooperate with investigators.


          “Turner and DiMuzio pulled that Canton home invasion,” Pappas told Whelan when they finally met. “They pulled the best at Cheers, too.” [Note: Pappas was brutally killed shortly before he was to testify in the case of the Canton home invasion.]


          “Turner shot DiMuzio,” he finally said to the trooper. “He was angry that DiMuzio had given the cops details of his part in the Tewksbury break-in, but most of all because he’d held out on his share of the money stolen in the job.”

          ***Merlino was trying another avenue to avoid going to jail on the 1992 cocaine trafficking charges. Through a lawyer, he reached out to Turner to try to recover the stolen Gardner paintings. The lawyer [my note: the attorney was Marty Leppo], who asked not to be identified, said he believe the authorities would be willing to drop the charges against Merlino if he could deliver the stolen artwork.”


          Mr. Kurkjian is the consummate professional in his journalism and so I can respect his offer to Attorney Leppo to not name him. But given this Patriarca mob lawyer was representing Bobby Guarente up in Maine at the same time on a gun charge, it really is key to analysis to know that Marty Leppo has always been part of the problem — in what has amounted to a quarter century effort to extort the museum. If FBI Special Agent Geoff hasn’t had spike mikes in Marty’s conference room for years — just like the FBI famously once did at Patriarca’s HQ — that’s lame.

          Besides, Marty wrote the foreword to Myles Connor’s book in which the offer to return the paintings is described. So I’m not talking out of school ; I’m just reading the book touted by Marty himself. Harvard Law Professor Dershowitz may have read the same book.

          Kurkjian continues:

          “Turner promised to try. But days later, he called the lawyer back. “I was close but someone got spooked,” Turner said. (pp. 155-156).

          Comment: According to Kurkjian’s new book, Bobby Guarente told his best friend Earle Berghman that David Turner that Turner was like a son to him. So Tony and the museum and Geoff at the FBI can muse all they want about whether DiMuzio or Turner looks more like the second composite — the question still comes back to what Bobby Guarente did with the paintings. And in calculating that trajectory, one would want to know where David Turner went associated with Bobby Guarente. Now Maine is one… but only one.

          Personally, I think Steve Kurkjian is the odds-on favorite for tracking down the paintings. But the important thing in crowdsourcing is that folks don’t heed the model of the unproductive internecine disputes of the Patriarca family.

          Just tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth — and we can connect the dots together, getting the paintings returned before the Pope visits Philadelphia. Reasonable people can disagree. We’ll know where the paintings are when they are located.

          It is all simply a matter of the FBI obtaining Title III warrants upon probable cause to work through the possibilities of where Bobby Guarente might have stashed the paintings, while leaving his wife Elene and daughter Jeanine either in the dark or not in control.

          But to return to the earlier questions I posed, did Tony Amore and Geoff Kelly of the FBI know that Jeanine, Elene and Earle Berghman had pitched the paintings back to the museum after Bobby’s 2004 death — and submitted paint chips to museum director Hiat?

        • DXer said

          As for this attempt to return the paintings in 1992, Earle Berghman says Bobby Guarente didn’t trust the lawyer.

          Although I would have to check my emails sent from Madison, ME, I gave Tony Amore Earle’s name a few years ago after the Madison clerk gave it to me.

          But for my trouble I was told that I was making Elene nervous and shouldn’t be making inquiries.

          These guys all so want to go Hollywood and publish their next book. It’s pretty funny — but meanwhile the Gardner paintings are still being hidden and the case is unsolved. (Solving the crime requires recovery of the paintings).

        • DXer said

          That’s nice that Tony and Geoff have chosen to show Tony’s business partner a picture of Lenny DiMuzeo — but it seems like something that should be shared generally. After 25 years of not solving a case, one loses the right to have conclusions blindly accepted.

          I once was persuaded by Ulrich Boser’s discussion of the similarity to David Turner — and his publication of the photograph of Turner along with the composite. (David, known for his boyish good looks, had proposed that his picture be on the cover).

          The May 1990 photo of Lenny DiMuzeo I’m looking at, on the other hand, shows him to have a big nose, bushy eyebrows, lines under his eyes and a full mustache. And no Asian cast to his eyes as described by the one witness.

          So Mr. Mashberg, it seems you should undertake to publish the Lenny DiMuzio photo alongside the composite — if you are going to be channeling Tony and Geoff’s conclusion.

        • DXer said

          “As for this attempt to return the paintings in 1992, Earle Berghman says Bobby Guarente didn’t trust the lawyer.”

          I have mistakenly conflated two different attempts. There was the attempt in 1992 after Merlino was indicted – that offer was made to state authorities. But then there was also a contemplated or actual attempt in 2002-2003 before Bobby Guarente passed. The rumor suggests Bobby Goldstein was the lawyer but he denies it.

        • DXer said

          Art Heist History”It belongs in a museum!”

          “[Former FBI Special Agent ] Wittman claims the FBI is lying about knowing who may have been the original thieves.”


          Although I think the photo Ulrich Boser published of David Turner looks MORE like the composite of one of the men, I can see the general resemblance of Lenny DiMuzio. The main difference I see that Mr. DiMuzio in May 1990 had very bushy eyebrows and big bags under his eyes. I think the bags under his eyes are a distinguishing feature. (If witnesses perceived a fake mustache, that would not be possible with DiMuzio who had a full mustache).

          But I am getting ahead of the story. Who does former FBI Special Agent Witmann think was responsible for the theft?

          Given the attempt to return the paintings to the state authorities in lieu of dropping the charges against Merlino in 1992, I don’t see that the answer would not centrally involve the Merlino crew.

          There were multiple corroborating aspects over the years.

          “Wittman also believes that the paintings have made their way into Europe, where they have become dispersed. The FBI denies these claims by Wittman, stressing that he is no longer involved with the FBI or their case and that his claims are speculation.”

          Well, given the location of the paintings is not known, we don’t need to pause long on the suggestion that the whereabouts of the painting is speculation. (It most definitely is under any of the theories). Moreover, it certainly very likely is true that developments after Agent Witman left would not be known by him.

          On the other hand, neither the FBI nor the museum security director had ever interviewed Earle Berghman as of February 2014. Kurkjian’s book due out March 10 has blockbuster new details. (Advance copies are currently on sale at the SU art museum).

          So maybe the FBI should appreciate that they should focus more on developing leads than shooting down theories.

          Tony the museum security director says Earle Berghman’s name was in his database — but then that begs the question: Why wasn’t he interviewed?

          Earle has described in detail Guarente’s claims about the paintings, his relationship with David Turner and Donati, Earle’s involvement with Elene Guarente and a daughter to return the two main paintings, and more. Whether Earle was driving a Jaguar in Florida or taking a bus in the arctic regions, Mr. Berghman’s fascinating account is factual reporting (subject to corroboration or not) rather than speculation.

          Focus, for example, could be on the postage sized Rembrandt self-portrait that Gentile says that Elene Guarente pulled out of her bra.

        • DXer said

          Breitbart, Tickle the Wire, Artnet News are belatedly picking up on the Lenny DiMuzio thread, without any clear sourcing. It was Mr. Mashberg, the museum security director confidante and coauthor, who first shared the name as the FBI’s official candidate in a NYT article last month. Mr. Mashberg saw the FBI’s powerpoint on the subject. And so future articles might at least source the revelation to him, if they cannot source it directly to the FBI.

          The FBI has shown the powerpoint to others, according to the Boston Globe, to include at universities and museums. And so future articles may be written by people who actually have heard directly from the FBI or from someone who saw the powerpoint. Otherwise, I hope some reporter submits a FOIA for the powerpoint. I think the FBI may be disposed to release it — given that it is bad form to show it to some people but not others. Indeed, its entire purpose is public education and outreach.

          If the FBI powerpoint is released, you’ll be able compare the photo they use of Lenny DiMuzio and compare it to the May 1990 composite I’ve mentioned of Lenny. (I’ve since sent it to artnet news in the hopes that the reporter will upload it). I would upload it but the subject is already off the subject of this blog and I don’t have a convenient place to upload a photo. My main interest is having people consider Lenny’s baggy eyes — and asking the witnesses (especially the Vermont guard giving interviews) if it might have been Lenny.

          Personally, I am still intrigued by journalist and book author’s Ulrich’s report by a witness he located describing the Asian cast of the one robber’s eyes — which seemed IMO to square with the photo of David Turner. The witness Mr. Ulrich located observed the officers while in the car.

          On the other hand, I’ve already pointed out that Bobby Donati, my friend Steve Kurkjian’s candidate, looks nothing like either composite of the robbers. But given I posit the likelihood of a second car — given the size and number of the paintings — I’m not troubled by a disagreement as to whether the other robber in uniform was Donati vs. DiMuzio vs. Turner.

          It seems an easy simulation to do — take the 13 items of comparable size and see if they fit in the backseat and truck of the car they report was observed.

          Note that Donati squares with the story Mr. Kurkjian story of Donati bringing uniforms in a wrapped package to a hangout the heist.

          Caution is the watchword though. Both Mr. Kurkjian’s and the FBI’s different informants have reason to spin things away from anyone who they murdered and stuffed in a trunk. Both Donati and DiMuzio were stuffed in a trunk. Several people were stuffed in a trunk — several died of suspicious heroin and cocaine overdoses. Natural causes (e.g., cancer, diabetes, heart attack) was the least frequent cause of death in this circle.

        • DXer said

          Huge art heist solved? Rembrandts, Vermeer still missing
          Gwen Flanders, USA TODAY 2:16 p.m. EDT March 31, 2015


          Carr, citing “multiple law enforcement sources” he doesn’t name, writes in Breitbart News that the FBI has fingered ex-con George Reissfelder and a guy named Lenny DiMuzio.


          I hadn’t noticed that the Breitbart piece was by Howie Carr. He is Boston columnist who co-authored a book with Bulger’s mob hit man that killed nearly a score of people — and so it is notable, without more, that he is the one doing the reporting. He would have a lot of law enforcement sources. But the FBI, if at all possible, should still make it official by releasing the powerpoint they have been showing around through FOIA. (And, again, if we are going to say who made the reveal first, that would be Mashberg — last month… in the New York Times.) And Tom M. works with the museum’s security director and there is zero reason to doubt his report of what the FBI’s powerpoint said.

          It has been known that members of the Merlino crew pulled of the heist since at least 1997 when Agents Nadolski and Cronin ran the sting on the Merlino crew at the TRC garage. (And I’ve ventured that they should have known that members of the Merlino crew was behind the theft since 1992 when Attorney Leppo suggested to state authorities that the stolen paintings could be returned in exchange for dropping the cocaine distribution charges against Merlino).. So no one need get excited that the stories today are new information in that sense. Moreover, it is very old news that George Reissfelder was pegged as one of the robbers.

          So once people catch their breath, we can turn to the matter at hand — where the paintings ended up.

          There is a secondary conversation to be had about whether Bobby Donati was involved — one difference between a Bobby Donati theory and a Lenny DiMuzio theory is that Kurkjian has been transparent about his sources — naming names — whereas the FBI has not. I don’t think that it necessarily gets one closer to the paintings — but it is worth having given the possibility that the secret as to the location of some of the paintings remained in the dark — with the corpse stuffed in the trunk.

          As for what museum security director Amore says, this past month he graciously offered up to me only “don’t believe everything you read in the newspapers.”

        • DXer said

          Sarah has uploaded the mugshot of Lenny DiMuzio I sent her. My source in turn was Mr. Kurkjian. Although Mr. K just provided the mugshot without comment a couple weeks ago when I asked for it, I need no prompting to focus skeptically on the bags under DiMuzio’s eyes.

          I have no horse in the race — but I would love to hear what Ulrich Boser thinks given his thoughtful analysis of a David Turner theory. I would also like to hear the Vermont guard thinks — and I realize it has been 25 years. I’m just surprised that a guard would not notice the bags and have that a prominent feature in any composite.

          A DiMuzio theory is consistent with the fact that Mr. Turner could not provide information about the paintings even though he faced many years in jail.

          A DiMuzio theory is also consistent, however, with Mr. Kurkjian’s Donati theory — and both theories are consistent with the paintings having moved on from their possession to some place else — for example, Bobby Guarente up in Maine.

          I am so grateful for Sarah for uploading the photo that I can offer to take her Friday on a whirlwind tour of the Guggenheim, Cooper-Hewitt, Metropolitan and MOMA — so that I might be nearly as cultured as she is. Then we could finish the day at the LEGO Wall of Bricks on 5th Street to make sure she can operate in my cultural milieu.

        • DXer said

          BostInno, however, has a story with spin of its own that flatly contradicting Howard Carr’s spin.

          “That was the word on the Internet Tuesday afternoon – that the FBI had cracked the infamous Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum heist, just days after the infamous crime’s 25th anniversary. Oh, and U.S Secretary of State John Kerry was involved.

          Ultimately, the rumor proved false. The Boston branch of the FBI says two unsubstantiated reports that claim the bureau has released the names of the two men responsible for the March 18, 1990 museum robbery aren’t factual.

          “The FBI has NOT publicly identified the suspects involved in the Gardner heist,” Boston FBI spokesperson Kristen Setera told BostInno in an email.

          On March 29, Breitbart News reported that suspects were “two career criminals who committed the historic crime were Kerry’s client, George Reissfelder, and a local thug named Lenny DiMuzio.”

          Well, with this sort of denial, the truth gets a bit tricky. Indeed, it is true that,the FBI has NOT publicly identified Lenny — that’s precisely the problem. It is just that Tom Mashberg has seen their powerpoint and says that they did on the powerpoint. That is, the powerpoint plainly indicated that the FBI thinks Lenny DiMuzio looks like one of the uniformed officers — and had been identified by one of their informants. (Their informants like Romano and the “Fat Man” tended to have third-hand information (at best) and so it’s not like I find an unnamed informant in this case worthy of much weight).

          But certainly the public position quoted above does not bode well for release of the powerpoint under FOIA. (Though I still think a FOIA request should be made; I would hate to be the reporter that allows some blogger to get the story first).

          In any event, taking the position that the FBI has not publicly identified the thieves is how it SHOULD be perhaps– given Agent Kelly has suggested, in broad comments,that the FBI would be vetting Mr. Kurkjian’s information about Donati. Kurkjian had previously briefed Agent Kelly and Mr. Amore at length but certainly the publication of his book might permit additional consideration. As between Donati and DiMuzio (and I see no reason that only two were involved), I have no opinion. I just know that to cover one’s bases, one would want to do physical searches of properties associated with Donati.

          Oh, wait a minute. Elene Guarente says that Bobby Donati was a good friend of her husband, Bobby Guarente, the guy who was holding the paintings. Has the FBI considered going back to the farmhouse they searched in 2009 and this time bringing ground penetrating radar and a backhoe? Just a thought…

          *Note that it is true that Mr. Mashberg once published that the warehouse he was taken to was 1 hour outside of Boston. Another time he said it was in Brooklyn. But that perhaps related to his desire to collect the $5 million reward. In contrast, he would have no reason to get it wrong about what the FBI powerpoint said. The way Tony and Geoff shut Kurkjian down was just too authentic — it truly does suggest that they have a different theory of the case (i.e., DiMuzio versus Donati). But does it matter? Under any theory, Isn’t the late Bobby Guarente a likely key — at the center of any one’s web?

      • DXer said

        “Still, those men are now dead. So is Mr. Merlino, who died in prison in 2005, as is Robert Guarente, a reputed Maine mobster suspected of having once harbored some of the art.

        Investigators say they are hopeful of locating the trove, even if many of their suspects are now in their graves. They were buoyed, for example, in 2009, when Mr. Guarente’s widow, Elene, told them her husband had turned over some of the stolen art to a reputed Mafia associate, Robert Gentile of Connecticut, in a parking lot in Portland, Me., in 2002.

        Investigators searched Mr. Gentile’s home in 2012 and found pistols, ammunition and silencers — but no paintings. Mr. Gentile, who officials say had ties to organized crime figures in Philadelphia, has said he knows nothing about the art.

        Mr. Kelly and Mr. Amore say they are convinced that, based on the 2009 sighting and other information, some of the art made its way from Maine to Philadelphia, where it was shopped around.

        “The art was seen as too hot, and there were no takers,” Mr. Kelly said.

        What happens now? The investigators keep looking.”

      • DXer said

        Here is a very thoughtful and sophisticated analysis.

        Questions Remain…

        One of the next articles — an article by the thoughtful Ulrich Boser would be timely — could helpfully align a picture of the relevant composite with pictures of David Turner and Lenny DiMuzio.

        Even when betting on the Oscars and asked to handicap movies we haven’t seen, we are shown movie trailers.

        It is too facile to say that Turner would have cooperated to get out from under the armored car sting conviction. The statute of limitation has run on the art heist but not on the numerous murders.

    • DXer said

      At page 120 of his book MASTER THIEVES, out March 10, Mr. Kurkjian tells the amusing story of Robert Gentile’s polygraph relating to the stolen Isabella Gardner paintings.

      After failing the polygraph, he asked for another try.

      He was asked whether he had seen the self-portrait by Rembrandt.

      “There was a long pause. The room suddenly went still.

      “Yes,” said Gentile. And on this question, the polygraph registered he was telling the truth.

      “What are you talking about?” one of the investigators asked Gentile, with an almost manic sound in his voice. “When did you see this? Where did you see it?”

      Like criminals of all stripes and at all levels, Gentile prided himself on never snitching, especially in a room full of feds. But Elene Guarente had dragged him into this by implicating him in hiding three of the stolen paintings, so he figured the least he could do was return the favor.”

      “Elene Guarente showed it to me,” Gentile said, referring to the widow of Robert Guarente, the mob solider whose reach extended from Boston to Maine. “It was a long time ago. It was tiny. Like a postage stamp. She pulled it out of her bra, where she was hiding it, to show me. She told me it was going to provide for her retirement. Maybe get her a house in Florida with it.”

      • DXer said


        I saw Steve Kurkjian speak on Wednesday. Although I have closely followed all aspects of his published reporting and his insights shared for years, it was wonderful to see him in personal. I think his book is masterful. I know the detail well from independent research and am in a position to judge. I noted to him that he was downright charismatic toward the end of his talk — once he got into the detail of his storytelling rather than the broad history that introduces an audience to the subject.

        I am not as cultured fellow as Steve and do not share his passion about the paintings. In fact, the painting recently sold for $300 million to someone in Qatar (I think) wasn’t nearly as beautiful (to me) as your average nature photograph. These inflated values based on supply and demand merely reflect the inequality of wealth in our society. This is especially true given the inability of 99% of the people to distinguish between the real McCoy and a fake.

        Moreover, I do not think more FBI resources should be devoted to this matter in particular or art thefts in general — they have numerous other priorities. Separately, I am in awe of the FBI’s success in combating organized crime — at least as to this particular mob family operating in Boston. I especially admire the late FBI Special Agent Neil Cronin for his brilliant work.

        Finally, I could foresee the FBI indicting Patriarca family members and associates, and any culpable lawyers, if it is deemed that they are engaged in a continuing quarter-century attempt at extortion. There even could be prosecution for some brutal murders (Pappas, Donati, Marks etc.) (for which there is no statute of limitation) thrown in for good measure. Some moldy (and some destroyed) canvases are no reason to celebrate evil — just so Tony, Geoff and some skilled veteran reporters can have a successful ending to the story they are pitching about lost art. A quarter century from now are we going to make movies that glorify the hoods that plague your average city today?

        Steve apparently is taking calls from a recently released Patriarcha honcho, and even adopting a revised theory as to the whodunnit. (He is suggesting Bobby Donati was involved as Myles Connor / Marty Leppo have always suggested; blaming the dead guy makes it easier for others to get off the hook). Whether or not Donati was a driver (he may very well have been), Steve can count on Title III warrants rippling out to all involved in the matter
        — as sure as if a pebble had been thrown in the water. That is partly why Special Agent Geoff at the FBI would have stopped communicating with him. There are intercepts running — it by no means is a cold case. For that reason, I passed on meeting for breakfast. I’ll just wait for the next knucklehead to get set up on some unrelated crime while the FBI tries to gain leverage over the situation.

        I think it is a sad reality that one or more paintings were ruined when the false compartment under Gentile’s shed was flooded. The tupperware containers were big enough to contain some of the smaller pieces. His son said he had never seen his father so upset. Gentile of course cannot admit this — it would gain him nothing but another indictment.

        But returning to the tale Steve so wonderfully tells:

        “”My Bobby was sick then [in 2002 and 2003],” [Elene Guarente] recalled later. “He told me he wanted them left with someone who’d make sure they were safe and would be able to provide for me. He thought he could trust Bobby Gentile with that job. The next year my Bobby died and I never heard anything about it after that.”

        With that as background, I still urge that the FBI should take a backhoe and ground penetrating radar to the Maine farmhouse property. Steve’s description of the search as “thorough” is inapt if it did not involve such equipment.

        On one final note, it would be interesting to see the peer reviewed literature on the testing done on chips in 1997 and 2004. If such testing is going to be counted on for decisions at such critical junctures, there should be greater transparency and public discussion as to its validation.

        • DXer said

          In particular, what Steve reveals at page 148 is quite remarkable. Apparently, David Turner contacted Bobby Gentile in 2010 to (with the help of David’s girlfriend) arrange a meeting with Richard Gillis and another baddie. The FBI was asking Bobby Gentile to then vouch for an undercover who would accompany him. Mr. Gentile declined. Mr. Gentile may now be telling the story because he is really mad at the FBI for having arrested him for selling painkillers to an undercover. The aging Gentile spent a year or two recently in prison. So it seems that the FBI eyes Richard Gillis and another former Rossetti colleague as a hot lead to recovery of at least some of the paintings — which is all pretty heady stuff. The entire sad tale suggests to me that the paintings were long ago split up among members of the Merlino crew who were involved. Stay in school kids. The life stories of everyone peripherally involved in the Gardner mess shows that crime does not pay — except for those who have not yet been indicted.

        • DXer said

          The other baddie was a fellow whose name I hadn’t seen before — Ennis.

    • DXer said

      Although I have been eager to reread Lew’s all-too-plausible novel on Amerithrax, I have been diverted temporarily to rereading the nonfiction MASTER THIEVES, the forthcoming book about the world’s greatest art heist.

      The book due out March 10 — blows open the Isabella Gardner art heist like nothing else. The devil is in its detail. It is quite masterful.

      For your art history, criminology and intelligence analysis class, here are some questions to consider after you read the detail-filled and history-in-the-making MASTER THIEVES.

      1. Michael Stabile gave Robert Guarente $30,000 to buy his home in Maine. (see Maine property records) When Elene Guarente was pressing Bobby Gentile for money, he recommended she go to Attorney Stabile, who guides high net worth individuals in their assets. What was the circumstance of Mr. Stabile’s loan to Guarente? What collateral did he have? Although Guarente was in the cocaine distribution business, aside from having the precious stolen paintings, he does not seem like a high asset individual. Was Attorney Stabile ever repaid? Who does Michael Stabile, of Mass., TN and FL, think has the paintings?

      2. Who killed Bobby Donati? Was he involved in the theft — perhaps as a driver? (This would not be instead of David Turner; but would be an additional crew member involved in the heist). Did he blow $200,000 he received for his part at the racetrack?

      3. Where did Jeanine Guarente get the chips said not to be from the stolen paintings? (after her father’s passing in 2004).

      4. Am I right that it was Marty Leppo who worked with Guarente in 1992 and 1993 in seeking to arrange return the paintings? He represented Guarente on a gun charge in 1991. One of the key paintings was going to be to get David (and Carmello) off, I believe. The other was for cash. But it didn’t work out — state authorities declined the offer. Later a small George Washington portrait was returned for cash in an unrelated transaction.

      5. Have authorities brought ground penetrating radar to the house in Madison? It was said to be thoroughly searched but there is no mention of ground penetrating radar. Jeanine Guarente and Elene Guarente (with the help of Earle Berghman), may have been spinning things toward Bobby Gentile in hopes of breaking a logjam. Bobby Guarente did not give all of the paintings to Bobby Gentile under any scenario — did he?

      6. Did James Marks ever have some of the paintings? He once told his girlfriend he had something valuable hidden in the ceiling. Did he ever have the paintings?

      7. Did Bobby Gentile have some of the paintings in the tupperware containers under the false floor in his shed? If so, weren’t they ruined upon flooding? His son says he never saw his dad so upset.

      8. Have authorities brought ground penetrating radar to Bobby Gentile’s old used car lot near Hartford?

      9. Did Elene Guarente give Tony Amore truthful information to get the $1,000 he gave him in 2010?

      10. When did museum security director Tony Amore first learn of the name Earle Berghman?

      11. Did Hiat, the museum trustee, tell Tony Amore about the approach by Attorney Grossberg on behalf of Jeanine Guarente and Earle Berghman? If not, why not? Guarente was a known associate of Carmello Merlino and Marty Leppo dating to the 1990s.

      • DXer said

        I think a number of the paintings are ruined — and that the bad guys should just drop off the remaining paintings. Let’s get the paintings returned before the Pope comes to Philadelphia.

        The anthrax threat is not so easily resolved.

        The graphics below were done by a federal undercover for me.

        Adnan El-Shukrijumah, I venture, was the mailer and Yazid Sufaat was the processor.

        If Yazid Sufaat were to confirm all this, it would be much appreciated and be for the best for everyone.

        Anthrax, Al Qaeda and Ayman Zawahiri: The Infiltration of US Biodefense

      • DXer said

        I believe the former head of Amerithrax is now head of Boston FBI office. This big fan of the FBi is offering a two-fer today.

    • DXer said

      Amherst College, FBI reopen 1975 Mead Art Museum heist investigation

      Myles Connor admitted committing this theft in a published book. The FBI simply should not want to participate in any scenario where such thefts are glorified such as Attorney Marty Leppo and Myles Connor have sought to do with the Isabella Gardner heist. To do so would encourage other thefts as Harvard Law Professor Dershowitz has argued. Marty Leppo was Robert Guarente’s former lawyer. In the 1992 and 1993 time period, Attorney Leppo sought to return them in exchange for dropping of cocaine distribution charges against Turner and Merlino and some money; the state declined. The mantra of the FBI should remain: “Crime does not pay.” Or, if you like, “We do not negotiate with terrorists.”

      Let the thieves then grouse all they like about being charged with unrelated crimes. As for any journalist who would participate in the glorification of crime, that would be sad — tantamount to gaining access to a politician by glorifying crooked politicians.

    • DXer said

      MASTER THIEVES by Steve Kurkjian should be entered for a Pulitzer Prize. It represents history in the making.

      The keeper/s of the paintings should just provide them to this author Steve and then he can get Wahlberg to pick up the check when the entire group goes out to dinner after the red carpet awards ceremony.

    • DXer said

      Isabella Stewart Gardner Heist: 25 Years of Theories

      By TOM MASHBERGFEB. 26, 2015

      • DXer said

        In a revised version of the New York Times article, a sentence is added:

        “In his book, Mr. Kurkjian says he provided other information to the investigators including a possible motive for the theft — to exchange the masterpieces for the release from prison of a Boston mob leader.”

        I’m separately told:

        “Vincent Ferrara was arrested in November 1989 and sent to Hartford lockup where Donati first visited him. Incredibly, when he was indicted in March 21/22, 1990 the FBI director and US attorney general flew up to announce the indictment. Remarkably, at the press conference no one asked for an update on the Gardner theft.”

        When years ago, I saw that massive indictment on March 21/22, i1990, t certainly made sense to me that the Gardner heist would be related. But I prefer to pick up the story with Bobby Guarente and not sweat the who stuffed who in a trunk and why.

    • DXer said

      ‘”Anticipating a wave of interest, and possible criticism, on the eve of the robbery’s 25th anniversary, the investigators, Mr. Amore and Mr. Kelly, recently showed me a PowerPoint presentation that detailed their best sense of what happened.

      Mr. Amore and Mr. Kelly’s current theory dates to 1997, when informants told the F.B.I. that they had heard a midlevel mob associate and garage supervisor from Quincy, Mass., Carmello Merlino, talk about trading the stolen art for the $5 million reward.

      In 1998, the F.B.I., as part of a sting, arrested Mr. Merlino and some associates on their way to an armored car depot and carrying heavy weapons, including grenades. Investigators said that they promised him leniency if he helped them find the art but that he denied knowing of its whereabouts.”


      Years ago, this blog uploaded numerous 302s describing the sting in the garage. I asked Lew once to take them down but if he has them saved, it would be fun to repost the threads — there was a lot of substantive documentary detail represented by those 302s. The late FBI Special Agent Nail Cronin was architect of the (IMO brilliant) sting. I think the suggestion it was entrapment lacks merit under the applicable legal standards.

      The suggestion, however, that the theory dates only to 1997 seems misguided spin given Ulrich Boser, in ihs wonderful book, describes the attempt to return the paintings in 1992 for dropping of the charges against Merlino and Turner on cocaine distribution charges. So while the theory seems extremely sound, in hindsight, perhaps the FBI should have been on target in 1992. Funny how failing to cooperate — and the compartmentalization of information — leads to unfortunate results in analysis. (The offer in 1992 was made to the state authorities.)

    • DXer said

      Quarter-century after $500 million art heist, Boston mystery endures

      Friday, February 27, 2015 6:42 a.m. CST
      By Elizabeth Barber

      “The investigation is very active and very methodical,” said Amore, a former Department of Homeland Security official who has spent much of the past decade trying to track down the missing art.


      Kelly would say little about who the FBI suspects stole the art, other than allude to the Mafia.


      Tony Amore and FBI Special Agent Geoff Kelly need to take a more scientific approach. Studies in the peer-reviewed literature have shown that people who like GODFATHER as a favorite movie are good guys. Take Eric Holder as an example.

      People who like GOODFELLAS as a favorite movie are bad guys and were asked to hold and/or given the paintings by Bobby Guarente.

      (It’s akin and as momentous, but as plainly evident, as the finding reported yesterday that cat lovers are more intelligent than dog lovers).

      And unless you are punching holes in walls with a sledge hammer, what’s the fun of a “active and very methodical” search?

      No, seriously. I just got off a conference call with Damon, Affleck and Wahlberg. They don’t want “active and very methodical” for another 25 years.

      They want you to bring back that guy with the sledge hammer.

    • DXer said

      This news junkies doesn’t remember a more fascinating nub of news (whether the account is credited or not) …. maybe Mueller’s face-off with Andrew Card over NSA spying was the last tidbit as fun

      Does a Connecticut shed hold the secrets of the Gardner heist?
      On the theft’s 25th anniversary come never-before-revealed details of an aging con man and the FBI’s search of his property.

      “Elene Guarente showed it to me,” Gentile said, referring to the widow of Robert Guarente, the mob soldier whose reach extended from Boston to Maine. “It was a long time ago. It was tiny. Like a postage stamp. She pulled it out of her bra, where she was hiding it, to show me. She told me it was going to provide for her retirement. Maybe get her a house in Florida with it.”


      I once was making inquiries a couple years ago and museum security director Tony Amore told me to stop — he said I was making Elene nervous. And as the years pass, especially given that the museum security director Tony never bothered to interview Elene’s soul-mate — who joined Elene in pitching the paintings back to the museum in 2004 — I remain skeptical of Tony’s approach to recovering the paintings. I had emailed Tony the name of Bobby Guarente’s contemporary and close friend. The local clerk had given me the name. He turns out to have been Elene’s soulmate who joined with Elene and Jeanine in 2004 to pitch the paintings. (This blockbuster revelation was first made by Mr. Kurkjjian in his must-read book; it was all exciting news to me).

      According to Mr. Kurkjian’s book, Tony didn’t even know about the 2004 attempt to return the paintings. And so how is that a thorough and systematic approach? (Tony started in 2005).

      Tony has had 10 years — the FBI has had 25 years. It should have been evident that the Merlino crew was responsible since 1992 when the first offer to return the paintings was made. Even if I saw Elene’s soul-mate in the produce section of the grocery store today, I wouldn’t bother to ask about the paintings given IMO Tony’s unhelpful and unappreciative approach.

      My sense is that everyone is in a race to Hollywood — but that in fact there is no oar in the water moving things forward. I don’t blame the FBI particularly given that they have many important responsibilities and difficult mysteries. My personal regrets and wounded ego aside, we can wish the FBI and museum well in accomplishing a recovery of at least some of the paintings.

      • DXer said

        Apocryphal story or not, I’ll gladly follow this bloodhound.

        Veteran reporter stays on scent of the Gardner heist
        By Bill Forry
        Mar. 12, 2015

        And I still think there is probable cause to bring a backhoe and ground penetrating radar here. There’s leaving no stone unturned and there’s leaving no stone unturned.

      • DXer said

        SALON: Why the largest unsolved art heist ever remains an impossible mystery
        The Boston Globe printed never-before-heard details of the 25-year-old infamous Gardner heist
        SARAH GRAY

        “The FBI went back because they did not yet have a warrant for a shed on the property.”


        I think Mr. Kurkjian may someday write an ending through his shoe leather.

        Bobby Guarente’s nephew shares a duplex with the woman who Bobby lived with him over the years.

        Elene says the woman, who judging from social media seems like a very nice woman, lived with them in Maine until things got weird. Years earlier she had lived in Massachusetts with Bobby. (I don’t know any of the details of their relationship).

        If I were Bobby, I would put the paintings between the walls of the duplex — where true love meets security.

        This Hollywood script needs an ending.

      • DXer said

        The ‘Master Thieves’ Behind Boston’s Greatest Cold Case

        March 12, 2015

        Comment: I believe two years ago the FBI said the case is not cold – but is very hot. Now the FBI has many important priorities, and so I wouldn’t blame them or be surprised if nothing presently was being done — for example, no running intercepts or recent searches. But I wouldn’t assume that it was cold. FBI Special Agent Geoff Kelly knew that the publicity upon the 25th anniversary was coming and so might have decided to seize the opportunity to engage in some more crowd-sourcing.

        For example, the advantage of having intercepts running during this period is that the press article then might prompt a stray comment by a wife to a husband: “Remember when your uncle helped you with that remodeling, what was in those packages?”

        Or a man might say: ” maybe the boss is okay with returning the paintings so long as he gets his share of the $5 million.”

        Or Gillis and Ennis may say: “David is in jail but now we’re the ones taking the heat. I still think that new guy is a fed. This isn’t fair.”

        Or Marty may say: “If I can just get Tony up to $10 million regardless of condition, it won’t matter that the two main paintings were destroyed.”

        An FBI press release last time appeared to use a “honey pot” — where while waiting for the press release, people were led to click on a link.

        But I doubt that in March 2015 Agent Kelly is not pursuing some lead — if only in celebration of the 25th Anniversary.

        I hate to see bad guys collect but I don’t see any way around it without physical searches.

        Nothing like a physical search to get bad guys people talking — even searches upon consent.

    • DXer said

      A couple new reviews today of MASTER THIEVES.

      ‘Master Thieves’ is a treasure hunt
      By William McKeenGLOBE CORRESPONDENT MARCH 14, 2015

      But the FBI, to Kurkjian’s frustration, avoids taking a fresh look at the crime. Kurkjian suggests that the FBI use social media to crowdsource the location of the masterpieces.


      And what of the artwork? Is it rolled up and stashed under the floor of someone’s backyard shed?

      We don’t get the definitive answer in “Master Thieves.’’ What we do get is a great mystery story well told. In this case, the story is about the journey, not the destination.

      Comment: The FBI does differ on the whodunnit insofar as they think Lenny DiMuzio rather than Bobby Donati was involved. But they were on the same crew in any event. I’m not sure that the difference is material when it comes to the location of the paintings — given that both Lenny and Bobby ended up stuffed in a trunk.

      A new look at a legendary art heist in ‘Master Thieves’ by Stephen Kurkjian

      “Kurkjian has gathered so much information that explaining the smallest bit of it leads to a spate of cross-references, qualifications and digressions.”

      Comment: I definitely understand the point at least to one sentence I have in mind. My reaction was that I had no need to know that. But overall, in a “treasure hunt” not a novel. It is very helpful to have the expert pass a lot of detail. It may prove that the smallest detail is the key clue. There is a $5 million reward — and so I’m thinking any reader should appreciate that by sharing so much, Kurkjian has generously done much to level the playing field of analysis. In other words, you have as good a chance to collect the $5 million reward as Steve if you put your mind to it.

      If you like treasure hunt, and fancy yourself a good researcher and analyst — or better yet, if you know some of the players — Steve’s book could empower you to collect $5 million.

      You don’t actually have to locate the paintings. You merely need to provide information that leads to their recovery. Your role might simply be to persuade the person who has them that they can collect the reward and not be prosecuted.

      Or they could just give them to you and you could return them no questions asked.

      I especially encourage people in Madison, Maine from 10 -20 years ago to read it.

    • DXer said

      An open letter: Please return Gardner Museum treasures
      Boston Globe (subscription)‎ – 10 hours ago
      By Sebastian SmeeGLOBE STAFF MARCH 15, 2015

      To whom it may concern,. Please return the stolen paintings. They belong in the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, an extraordinary place, which should not …

      “I have no idea of your circumstances or of the calculations you feel you have to make, and I understand that right now, it may seem too complicated to give them back. But perhaps it is simpler than you think?”


      Fools who stole this art, putting people’s lives at risk in the process. Fools who, in every sense, didn’t know what they were doing. Fools who were willing, for whatever ugly reason, to receive the stolen works. Fools who, after 25 years, have still failed to make amends for their actions. Fools who just don’t get it.

      And the upshot is, I feel myself a fool. Because the whole problem with fools is that you start to feel foolish just by consorting with them.”


      Open letter to Sebastian Smee:

      Interesting column on the Isabella Gardner works.

      Personally, I think the two main paintings were destroyed by flooding — although author and ace investigative reporter Kurkjian seems to not want to believe it. (I believe he reasons the two paintings were too long to fit in the tupperware containers, without taking into account the dimensions of the hole).

      And so the reason the paintings are not returned, IMO, is because it turned into the biggest act of vandalism in history — and would only bring rage down upon those returning lesser works.

      I would only disagree with you on the point whether books have brought things closer to resolution.

      Kurkjian’s difference with the FBI as to Lenny DiMuzio or Bobby Donatello being involved in the heist seems immaterial because both were on the Merlino crew and both ended up stuffed in a trunk. I personally favor the suggestion by Ulrich Boser/Steve Kurkjian and others of David Turner being the second one pictured by the composite; Lenny DiMuzio had very puffy bags under his eyes, and a full moustache, in a May 1990 photo. I do not see the composite as good a match as the one to David Turner’s boyish good looks. The FBI relies on an informant, who may very well had an interest in pinning it on a dead guy or was operating on hearsay (Romano) from someone who had such an interest.

      Which brings us immediately to David Turner — and reason enough for someone in possession of the paintings not to turn them in or to be open about location of particular of the 13 works.

      Kurkjian’s book is rich with detail about Elene Guarente’s attempt to return the paintings in 2004 (along with her daughter Jeanine and soulmate Earle Berghman).

      And then there is his exclusive of Bobby Gentile’s claim (apocryphal or not) that Elene pulled out the Rembrandt self-portrait out of her bra … which I think, if credited, brings things down to some very short strokes.

      I think the reporting we have yet to see is why museum security director Tony Amore reportedly didn’t know about the 2004 attempt to return the paintings — or for that matter, why the museum seems not to have known of the attempt to trade the paintings in 1992 in exchange for dropping the charges for cocaine distribution against Merlino (with the offer made to state authorities).

      Even Mr. Kurkjian does not appear to focus on the 1992 attempt to return the paintings — which I believe attorney Marty Leppo and the former state prosecutor knows all about.

      I am hoping that someone with the credentials of an art critic like yourself interviews museum Board member Hiat so that we can better understand why the 2004 attempt to return the paintings was not passed on to Tony when he assumed the position of museum security director in 2005. Tony says (I believe) that Earle Berghman’s name was in his database — which then makes it very hard to understand why he hadn’t been interviewed. I realize that hindsight is 20/20 but things are best advanced by having the history understood. The point is not to find fault through hindsight but to understand where the right turn might have been missed in retracing steps.

      Foolish crooks tend not to follow print media or even be aware of it, especially if they are living in the hinterlands. They became crooks precisely because they are not big readers. And so the only way to really put the question to someone who might know is to make respectful inquiry. It is the local barbers and waitresses and mechanics of the world who know the story. They are the ones who can help someone make a large recovery for return of at least the art works that people they know can lay their hands on (assuming they have been split up).

      Foolish crooks — or their children — can collect hundreds of thousands of dollars even though some of the other paintings are not within their control (or even are destroyed).

      As you know, the statute of limitation on the theft has long since passed.

    • DXer said

      A crime for the ages, still a mystery, at 25
      For Gardner director, a professional, personal loss

      Hawley, accompanied by museum board member Arnold Hiatt, agreed to a back-channel meeting, negotiating with Youngworth at a tony New York hotel in September 1997. “We tried to do it under the radar,” Hawley explained in a recent interview.

      The discussion lasted hours, after which Hiatt agreed to personally loan Youngworth $10,000 to aid the recovery.


      Anne Hawley, then the new museum director, spoke to reporters after the Gardner theft in 1990.

      Meanwhile, she was also the museum’s main liaison with the FBI, a role that only steepened the theft’s emotional toll as they sought to retrieve the coveted works.

      “Some of the leads were so compelling, you thought you were almost there,” she said. “You’d get emotionally caught up in it, then you’re overlooking a chasm.”


      Hiatt, who in the days after the theft organized a reward, said that though Hawley was deeply involved in the paintings’ recovery, it didn’t take away from her duties as director. “I don’t think it slowed her down,” he said. “It hurt her deeply, and she wanted to follow up on the leads, which we did together.”


      But if the robbery caused Hawley nightmares, her mornings brought little relief. Arriving at the museum early one day, she recalls, a security guard told her there was a woman on the phone for her. When Hawley picked up, the voice on the other end was desperate, calling from a parking lot in Walpole.

      “She’d had her leg broken because she said she knew too much about our investigation and that people were trying to kill her,” Hawley recounted. “I’m saying, ‘How do we find you? Where’s the car?’ ”

      The FBI eventually located the woman. She apparently did have information, according to Hawley, but as has so often happened in this case, it wasn’t very useful to investigators.


      I am still hoping that someone with the credentials of Malcolm Gay or the Globe art critic like interviews Board member Hiatt on the point of the attempted return of the paintings by Jeanine Guarente, Elene Guarente and Earle Berghman — so that we can better understand why the 2004 attempt to return the paintings was not passed on to museum security Tony Amore when he assumed the position of museum security director in 2005. Tony says (I believe) that Earle Berghman’s name was in his database — which then makes it very hard to understand why he hadn’t been interviewed.

      I realize that hindsight is 20/20 but things are best advanced by having the history understood. The point is not to find fault through hindsight but to understand where the right turn might have been missed in retracing steps.

      I’ve long urged that Elene’s old farmhouse be searched. Bobby Gentile was in the concrete laying business in 1991.

      If the paintings are going to be found, we need to move way past the tired stories about Youngworth, Myles Connor, etc. — and pick up the scent in Maine at Bobby Guarente’s old farmhouse in Madison, Maine. Journalists need to interview his relatives working to return (or maybe even secretly storing) the paintings.

      They only stand to benefit — to the tune of many hundreds of thousands of dollars. The reporters could think of themselves as bringing good news.

    • DXer said

      The heist was on March 18, 1990 in Boston. So the actual anniversary is still a few days away.

      How well do you know that new person in your life that you just happened to meet? You know, the one who asks those questions?

      Who is going to be the next knucklehead — too stupid to pick up the phone — to be charged rather than retire with lots of money in the bank?

      When fortune knocks, open the door.


    • DXer said

      Want to be a CIA spy? Be careful on Facebook.


      As my avatar in posting where in Madison, ME I think the FBI should bring ground penetrating radar and a backhoe, I used a May 1990 booking photo for Lennie DiMuzio, who the FBI believes participated in the Isabella Gardner heist.

      If you zoom in, you can see the bags under his eyes that I think a prominent feature. People can compare it to the relevant composite and reach their own conclusion.

      Certainly it would be interesting to read interviews of people who knew Mr. DiMuzio in March 1990.

      An open letter: Please return Gardner Museum treasures

    • DXer said

      Biggest art heist in U.S. history still unsolved after 25 years
      Published March 16, 2015EFE
      Canny detective Hercule Poirot, the creation of the “Queen of Mystery,” would have enjoyed a case as intriguing as the heist from the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, founded in 1903 by an art collector and housed in a Venetian-style palace that is now one of Boston’s main tourist attractions.


      For the broadcast media not to have already interviewed Bobby Guarente’s daughter Jeanine Guarente on camera is really lame. She retained a lawyer on her father’s passing and tried to return paintings in 2005.

      There are lots of very good and responsible citizens, such as Hakima Abiddi, who can provide background details and insights.

      The message to convey simply is that people with information will recover lots of money, no questions asked — and it will be no surprise that only some of the paintings are in a returnable condition.

      The recovery will still be extremely substantial even if the two main paintings are ruined and the ruined canvases discarded.

      This money can be used so future generations can go to college. Jeanine was only about 15 at the time of the theft. No one is going to begrudge recovery by these future generations.

    • DXer said

      Museum director Tony Amore has been invited to appear on a tv show tomorrow. I am hoping that there is a substantive give-and-take on issues such as testing of paint chips and the submission of chips by the lawyer in 2005 (representing Earl Berghman, Jeanine Guarente and Elene Guarente). I guess I’m surprised that a museum in this position does not start with more basic evidence like a picture of the canvas, including close-up photograph of its back. Or return of one of the minor works of art.

      Instead, Tony may limit himself to stating that the museum is taking a systematic and thorough approach — and winnowing leads by process of elimination. Yawn. After 10 years on the job — 25 years since the heist — I think that would be pretty lame. (I emailed Jeanine years ago, as I recall, on Facebook and for Tony to discourage my efforts and yet reportedly not to know that Jeanine tried to return the paintings in 2005 — if true — would be bizarre.) Attorney Bernard Grossberg has been given a signed waiver to speak about his representation of Earl Berghman — so if Tony feels he cannot discuss it, then the media should go to Attorney Grossberg or Mr. Berghman, both of whom are highly open on the subject.

      There are so many entry points to Jeanine’s family and friends, in terms of gaining insights into the historic events, that I expect that the FBI knows way more than anyone. Jeanine should simply promptly turn over any and all paintings she can lay her hands on and not sweat the details — the museum will be good for the reward. (Cutting a lawyer in for a one-third, on the other hand, reduces the recovery to that extent). Carmello Merlino was using Marty Leppo, according to informant reports, only because he knew where the bodies were buried, so to speak.

    • DXer said

      FBI Boston office had press conference today on the Gardner case. Just said that it was an active investigation. On a minor note, the spokesman misspoke on how many pieces had been stolen – said it was 18. Hopefully that won’t be repeated in the press.

      As I’ve said, I’m not going to second-guess the resources the FBI does or does not put into the matter — and I wish them (and the museum) well and good luck on a breakthrough. The FBI has many many responsibilities. The tasks they face are actually quite mind-boggling. I would have loved to be an FBI agent except that I cannot imagine moving around so often.

      On the other hand, I think if museums want to tout inflated values of pieces of art, then they should get up there and shovel the roof off and not be as negligent as I was this past winter. (My air-conditioner was destroyed by a big piece of falling ice because I didn’t build a protective structure around it).

      As for the investigation by journalists and Tony, I think they’ve spent more time writing books and trying to get to Hollywood than they have talking to the barbers, waitresses, taxidermists and dojo teachers. It’s not the con man or his lawyer who calls up you want to speak with — it’s her hairdresser and his nephew — and always the person’s true love.

    • DXer said

      FBI should open its files on Gardner heist

      By The Editorial Board MARCH 16, 2015

      AFTER DECADES of frustration, the FBI ought to try opening its files on the Gardner Museum heist in hopes that fresh vision will help crack Boston’s most notorious unsolved mystery. The theft of 13 priceless works of art, including Rembrandt’s “Storm on the Sea of Galilee,” 25 years ago on March 18, left a gaping hole in the city’s cultural landscape. The FBI has worked hard to find them, and appeared to be close to a breakthrough two years ago. But as another anniversary passes, and witnesses who might have useful information get a year older, the bureau should enlist the public’s help in a more robust way.

      In 2013, the bureau and the museum announced that they believed they knew who stole the paintings, and identified them as “members of a criminal organization with a base in the mid-Atlantic states and New England.” Apart from that, though, investigators didn’t make much specific information public. Instead, it created a dedicated FBI website and displayed billboards in the Philadelphia area, where the bureau thinks some of the art may have ended up. The publicity generated tips, but no art.

      Typically, criminal investigators reveal as little information as possible before making an arrest, mostly to avoid tipping off targets, but partly to discourage irresponsible bystanders from trying to take matters into their own hands. There are enough fresh examples of the dangers of crowd-sourced criminal investigations — just think of thefalse accusations after the Marathon bombing — to reinforce that conventional wisdom.

      But the Gardner heist is different. Getting the art back to its home on the Fenway is far more important than actually arresting anyone. The statue of limitations for the robbery itself expired long ago. And normal investigatory practices clearly haven’t paid off. That’s not to fault the FBI, which must balance seeking lost art with more life-and-death matters.

      What the case needs is help from the public, and piquing its interest will require both disclosing all available details — you never know what might jog someone’s memory — and embracing more creative approaches to engaging the public. One tool that wasn’t available in 1990 may help: social networking. In a well-known 2009 experiment, a team at MIT tapped social networks to find 10 red balloons located at random locations across the continental United States. By offering rewards not just to tipsters, but to those who forwarded the information, they found them all in less than nine hours. That type of approach may or may not help find the Gardner art. But authorities need to do something to reboot the investigation.

      Comment: Given there won’t be a prosecution, and given the large financial benefit to those who can provide information leading to the paintings (they don’t have to actually provide the paintings), I would just rely on reporters to pass on the great news to people in the hinterlands who might now closely read the news. In order, I would interview Elene Guarente, Jeanine Guarente, Earle Berghman and Robert Gentile — to try to lay out what happened from 2003 to the present. After doing that, I would also interview Bobby Guarente’s other close friends and relatives. I think it might be safest to assume that some paintings have been destroyed and for the museum to confirm that no one will get in trouble for that.

      It’s all win-win. The reporters get a great interview and the interview subjects make a lot of money. But I recommend that people first read Kurkjian’s book. And I’m not shilling for sales. I tend to read my books in the cafe at Barnes and Noble or my local library.

      I tend to agree with Kurkjian’s take on most things but I think I am more inclined to think that maybe some of the paintings were destroyed under the Connecticut shed — which poses a sticking point of sorts.

      In any event, by greater transparency, this issue of the negative testing of paint chips in 1997 and 2005 can be explored. It would be a tragedy if the real McCoy resulted in a false negative.

    • DXer said

      Robert F. Guarente has unclaimed property in East Boston. It is worth $100+.

      I also tried to point out unclaimed property he had in Maine but in hindsight I don’t know if Elene ever got the word.

      If Elene’s budget is tight, she should fill in the simple form to retrieve this property.

      Of course, if the abandoned property turns out to be some unopened tubes worth $500 million, all the more fun.

  18. DXer said

    And by “Jeb is withholding,” I really mean that Florida may now provide the attachment, if asked. Email attachments are often overlooked in a request for an email.

    See generally

    * DXer … if we knew what President Bush knew in February 2001, Amerithrax would be seen with entirely different eyes
    Posted by Lew Weinstein on March 2, 2010

    I have no horse in the race in the Presidential election. I am thrilled at the transparency contemplated by the Florida state statute. The New York and federal governments could take a cue.

    Perhaps Jeb Bush himself or one of the named individuals can share what the attachment described.

    In connection with the withheld February 8, 2001 “Anthrax threats.doc,” I believe:

    Tim Moore was the FDLE Regional Director in 2001 — and was a frequent correspondent with Jeb Bush updating him on events at AMI and bioterrorism generally;

    Joyce Dawley in 2001 was the FDLE Regional Director in Orlando; and

    Lance Newman in 2001 was the FDLE Regional Director in Tampa.

    the sender, Larry Bieltz, in 2001 was a FDLE Special Agent working out of Orlando. (He is now retired).

    Anthrax, Al Qaeda and Ayman Zawahiri: The Infiltration of US Biodefense

    • DXer said

      I have posted numerous emails to and from Jeb Bush about anthrax from October 2001. They are mostly in a thread about an email that Bruce Ivins wrote on October 4, 2001. And so this next email has no special importance — but I will add emails to this current post.

      On the subject of the email, it is interesting to consider what Chris Christie would have done had he been faced with the mailings to Florida media — whether he would have taken a more hands-on approach.

      Sent: Wednesday, December 26, 2001 10:03 AM
      Subject: Where is the Governor?

      Why is it that as “Anthrax scares” break out throughout the United States,
      other states’ governors are seen on TV and speaking with the media
      addressing the threat, mobilizing public health entities and advising the
      citizens of the actual level of risk and, although Florida was the first
      state to be attacked in this way, we have yet to see our Governor address
      the Florida residents at all?
      I would like to know, from my Governor, what is being done in the state to
      insure that we can address and respond to another Bio-terror threat if one
      should occur. As a resident of Delray Beach living 2 miles from American
      Media, I would like to know what, if any precautions need to be taken by me
      and my family. I would also like to know if other businesses in the area
      are being tested for similar infestation, as there are numerous office
      buildings situated around American Media.
      I think the lack of information provided to the public, locally, regarding
      American Media, a recent incident at BankAtlantic and the one at PBIA is
      reprehensible. An educated public can handle honesty and information. What
      creates panic, rumor and folklore is when people have no information and are
      left to their own devices to try and figure out what is going on locally
      based on very limited information provided by the National news.
      We are not stupid, Mr. Bush. It is insulting that our legislature believes
      that we are.
      Perhaps since you, personally are so far away from South Florida, you don’t
      feel beholden to it’s residents. I can think of no other reason why you have
      reclused yourself during these times of trouble for both our state and our
      If you have any hope of being re-elected, I strongly suggest you start to
      show yourself and your support & concern for the people who put you in
      Michelle Young
      1001 I Crystal Way
      Delray Beach, FL 33444

      • DXer said

        Ebola In The US: Jeb Bush Says Obama Is ‘Incompetent’ On Virus
        By Howard Koplowitz on October 29 2014

        President Barack Obama’s handling of the first cases of Ebola in the United States was “incompetent” and created unnecessary alarm over his response to the situation, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, a potential 2016 presidential candidate, said Tuesday. Bush cited his response to anthrax mailed to a Florida-based tabloid after the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks as an example of how to lead when the public is frightened.

        “It looked very incompetent to begin with, and that fueled fears that may not be justified,” Bush said of how Obama handled the Ebola cases, according to the Associated Press. The former Florida governor and brother of ex-President George W. Bush also defended the quarantine plan created by New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, which has come under fire from the Obama administration and U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon. Other governors, including Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn, have also followed suit. “And now you have states that are legitimately acting on their concerns, creating a lot more confusion than is necessary,” Bush said.

        He said Obama should have done more to calm Americans’ fears over Ebola, using his actions as Florida governor as an example after anthrax was mailed to a tabloid based in the Sunshine State following 9/11. “We gave people a sense of calm, what the plan was,” Bush said. “We talked in plainspoken English. We were totally engaged.”

        Bush’s remarks on how Obama is handling Ebola in the U.S. were part of a wide-ranging speech in Nashville, Tennessee, on Tuesday. He said that he would be mulling over a run at the 2016 Republican presidential nomination in the next few months and then choosing “what’s in my heart,” according to the Tennessean.

        “I’m totally blessed,” Bush said. “I’m not like really freaking out about this decision, to be honest with you.”

      • DXer said

        By mid-October 2001, Jeb Bush was publicly addressing the issue. But the remarks understandably were very vague.

        Relating to that first week in October 2001 …

        Useful Lessons From Reporting the Anthrax Story
        A journalist describes what happened and shares what he learned.

        Lesson 3: Report official statements. Then explain what they don’t say. On day two of the anthrax investigation, Governor Jeb Bush told the press, “People don’t have any reason to be concerned. This is a cruel coincidence. That’s all it is.” Health officials reiterated there was “no evidence of terrorism.” I knew from covering foodborne outbreaks that that wasn’t the whole story. “The fact that Stevens never regained consciousness after arriving at the hospital Tuesday, and the lack of other human cases, could mean investigators might never discover how he was infected,” I reported. In essence, investigators reassured the public based on their lack of data. Is that really so comforting?

        Sanjay Bhatt is medical reporter for The Palm Beach Post and has covered public health for the Post since the spring of 1999. He was the lead reporter in the paper’s anthrax coverage, for which both he and the Post staff received numerous honors, including first place in the Excellence in War on Terrorism Coverage given by the Florida Press Club and the Society of Professional Journalists’ Green Eyeshade award.

        Relating to mid-October 2001 …

        Florida Governor Jeb Bush Holds Press Conference
        Aired October 16, 2001 – 14:57 ET

        AARON BROWN, CNN ANCHOR: Down in Boca Raton, the Florida governor, Jeb Bush, is about to address reporters, and I gather others there, too, about the anthrax incidents that have hit American Media.

        Obviously, anthrax is a serious concern for all Americans. And we were saddened by the loss of a resident of this state and of this county and of this community, Mr. Stevens. Our thoughts and prayers go out to his family, one of which, by the way, a son, works as a state employee in the Department of Revenue. So this is a difficult time.

        But I’m particularly proud of the cooperative effort that has been developed in the last 10 days with the FBI, the Centers for Disease Control, local and county governments, the emergency operations center, both in Tallahassee as well as in Palm Beach county. We have probably the best responders in the country as it relates to natural disasters. And those same talents now being used for this situation here in Boca.

        Many people, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, state and local law enforcement officers, fire-rescue people, our hospitals, have worked together to deal with this issue. And we will continue to work together to make sure that the criminal investigation goes as quickly as possible and the public health issues are dealt with in an open, transparent way, so that people’s concerns will begin to subside.

        This is a new occurrence for our state and for our country. And so it is natural that people will be concerned about things that they have heard or things that they read. These are, for all of us — unless someone here will admit they were an expert on anthrax or biological and chemical warfare, or the possibility of use of that — this is new terrain for us.

        And one of the things that has been clear, particularly in the last week, we have incredibly dedicated men and women that are serving our state, 40,000 sworn law enforcement officers, I think some 6,000 to 8,000 fire-rescue personnel. We have the Department of Health here in Palm Beach County and across the state really is doing — they are all doing excellent work.

        And yet they have to turn back from time to time, because people are calling in, concerned about a letter they may have gotten, or concerned about a phone call they may have gotten, or concerned about something they may have seen. We have asked people to call their local health departments and to call their local law enforcement when they see something unusual.

        Clearly, in a free society, it is important for all of to us be vigilant. But the people that are taking advantage of the fear that exists right now in Florida and in our country by using this as a hoax to try to either have fun doing it or…

        BROWN: The governor of Florida talking about hoaxes and reporting — and the system getting taxed in that state on anthrax.

    • DXer said

      There was no shortage of emails soliciting his views or input:

      Sent: Tuesday, October 09, 2001 4:14 PM
      Subject: graduate journalism project

      Dear Governor Bush:

      I am a graduate journalism student at American
      University. My semester project is about Fact v. Rumor
      in Mainstream Media and on the Internet in the Wake of
      the September 11 Attacks. I am following the Florida
      anthrax story as a possible example of how this kind of
      story plays out.

      I am aware that MSNBC/Newsweek posted a story this
      morning that a FAU student who had interned at American
      Media was being sought for questioning, but later in
      the afternoon, printed the story that the student had
      been cleared.

      I have not been able, however, to find out more
      information about the source for the story about the
      rumored “envelope with white powder and a Star of David
      charm” that was supposedly delivered to American
      Media. I would be interested to hear the Governor’s
      office comments on that story, if any.

      Thank you.
      Paula Schaap
      American University–School of Journalism


      In light of the FBI’s withholding of those 302s, I would commend author Leonard Cole’s transcribed statements from those witnesses.
      In the newspaper media, local journalist Phil Brennan had the most thorough treatment.

      • DXer said

        Jeb Bush posted the email from Ernesto Bianco’s son-in-law concerning an unrelated matter:

        Mr. Bush, I voted, for your Dad, Brother, and for you each time you all ran, my family four years ago was the family in Miami
        that lived through the Anthrax scare, my father in law is Ernesto Blanco. I was educated in private schools, and always in life
        have tried to do right thing and help the ones with less. I need someone from the state to PLEASE come see my situation
        before the end of the month, It might be to late for me, but I can’t believe that any company can truly be able to get away with
        all these violations and no one even willing to come take a look for themselves, no one will even address it. I have pictures
        and a DVD of the problems, and again after they talk to J&W they all come back and say, they can’t help, sorry.
        Thank you in advance for any help you can provide.
        Guillermo Orth (Willie)
        305-439-0326 Cell

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