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Man thought linked to huge art heist pleads guilty

Associated Press Modified: November 14, 2012 at 3:02 pm •  Published: November 14, 2012

"I'm sorry for what I did," he told Judge Robert N. Chatigny. "I don't have that many years to fight the case because I'm a very sick man. ... I don't want any more trouble."

Durham told the judge that the investigation involved a cooperating witness who obtained tape-recorded conversations of Gentile and co-defendant Anthony Parente talking about selling prescription drugs including Dilaudid, Percoset and OxyContin. Charges against Parente remain pending, and he's free on bail.

Gentile was arrested in February on the drug charges. Authorities later filed weapons charges after finding several pistols, a shotgun, silencers, ammunition, homemade dynamite and other weapons-related items at his home. Durham said Gentile wasn't allowed to possess guns because he had previous felony convictions for larceny in 1996 and possession of a sawed-off shotgun in 1963.

Gentile insisted that he had never sold drugs before pairing up with Parente, and he claimed that Parente coaxed him into it.

"I was stupid and I said, 'Yes,'" Gentile said. "That's how I got caught in that trap."

Sentencing is tentatively set for Feb. 6. Durham and McGuigan have agreed on a sentencing range of 46 to 57 months in prison.

Neither Gentile nor anyone else has been charged in the art heist.

Durham said in court this year that the FBI believed Gentile had some involvement with stolen property related to the art heist. He said FBI agents had unproductive discussions with Gentile about the theft, but he didn't elaborate. Durham also said the FBI believes Gentile is a made member of the Mafia.

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