Christian Tarantino, co-owner of Synergy Fitness Clubs, New York, has been convicted by a federal jury of two 1994 murders.
The verdict, announced May 23, followed eight weeks of trial. The jury was unable to reach a verdict on a third murder charge in the case, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Eastern District of New York.
Tarantino, who was arrested Sept. 24, 2008, after an FBI raid at his mansion in Dix Hills, NY, faces a mandatory life imprisonment sentence on each of the murder convictions.
“We hope that [the] convictions bring a measure of closure to the family and friends of the victims,” U.S. Attorney Loretta Lynch said in a statement. “As this case clearly demonstrates, we will not rest until those who engage in such murderous violence are brought to justice.”
The U.S. Attorney’s Office, citing trial evidence, said that on June 23, 1994, Tarantino and co-conspirators, including a man named Louis Dorval, carried out an armed robbery of a Mid-Island Check Cashing armored van in Syosset, NY. During the robbery, Dorval shot and killed Julius Baumgardt, one of the van guards.
After the Baumgardt murder, Tarantino learned that Dorval told at least one other person that he and Tarantino had committed the armored van robbery and murder. On Aug. 10, 1994, Dorval and others were charged in New Jersey with various racketeering offenses unrelated to the armored van robbery. Two days later, after Dorval stated that he would flee rather than face incarceration, Tarantino and others murdered Dorval, put his body in a plastic tool trunk and dumped the trunk into the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Long Island, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office. Dorval’s body was found four days later by U.S. Coast Guard personnel.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office said that Tarantino murdered Dorval to prevent him from disclosing to federal authorities information relating to various crimes, including Tarantino’s role in the armored van robbery and Baumgardt murder.
The jury did not return a verdict on two charges stemming from the Aug. 18, 2003, murder of Vincent Gargiulo, the brother-in-law of Twisted Sister lead singer Dee Snider. Tarantino will be re-tried on those charges on Aug. 1.
Some of Tarantino’s friends have created a blog in his support.
Tarantino is part-owner of five Synergy Fitness Clubs in Long Island, NY, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office. However, in 2008, an employee at the Synergy Fitness Club in Farmingdale, NY, told Club Industry that another part-owner took over the club after Tarantino’s arrest. A recent request for more information about the current ownership structure of Synergy Fitness Clubs was denied by the company’s corporate office.
Synergy Fitness has 16 locations in the New York City metro area, according to the company’s website. In 2010, one of the Synergy Fitness Clubs in Manhattan filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.