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Mobster linked to infamous 1990 art heist sentenced in gun case

HARTFORD, Conn. -- A mobster who authorities believe is the last surviving person of interest in the largest art heist in history has been sentenced to 4 ½ years in prison in an unrelated weapons case.

Robert Gentile, 81, was sentenced Tuesday in federal court in Hartford, Connecticut. He was given credit for time already served, and is expected to spend about 11 more months behind bars.

Federal prosecutors have said they believe Gentile has information about the still-unsolved 1990 heist at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston. Thieves stole an estimated $500 million worth of artwork, including works by Rembrandt and Johannes Vermeer. Gentile, of Manchester, has denied knowing anything about it.

He asked the judge Tuesday to consider letting him go home to his wife, describing his latest stint in prison as horrifying.

"Anybody else would have killed themselves," he said. 

From the archives: 1990 Isabella Gardner Muse... 01:07

Gentile, who has a criminal record that dates to the 1950s, had been convicted of several charges, including selling a loaded handgun to a convicted murderer who was cooperating with the FBI and illegally possessing firearms as a felon. He has been in prison awaiting sentencing for almost three years.

Federal agents found the guns that led to the weapons charge while searching Gentile's home in what defense attorney A. Ryan McGuigan has said were attempts to find some of the stolen paintings, or evidence connected to the heist.

In 2013, Gentile was sentenced to 2½ years in prison in another weapons and prescription drugs case that first revealed federal authorities' belief that he knew something about the heist.

Prosecutors have said another gangster's widow claimed her husband gave Gentile two of the paintings. Authorities also have said Gentile talked about the stolen paintings with fellow prisoners and once told an undercover FBI agent he had access to two of the paintings and could negotiate the sale of each for $500,000. 

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