Tag Archives: Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum

FBI sting operations: MA art and MA fishing

May2_gardner972x663.jpgFBI posed as art buyers for Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum heist scam

Thirteen works of art were stolen from the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum  March 18, 1990, one of the highest profile art thefts of the century and listed as #2 on the FBI top 10 art crimes list. There has been an ongoing investigation for recovery ever since including incentive for tips that was raised to ten million dollars. Todd Andrew Desper of West Virginia had the dead stupid and criminal intent to advertise the Gardner Museum’s masterpieces, The Storm of the Sea of Galilee by Rembrandt (for 5 million), and The Concert by Vermeer (for 50 million) …wait for it…on Craigslist overseas. FBI posed as potential buyers and arrested Desper May 20, 2017. He was indicted by a federal grand jury in Boston on July 20, 2017. Here’s a link to the FBI press release. Last week, Desper plead guilty to wire fraud and attempted wire fraud. Sentencing is scheduled for May 15th.

Meanwhile, the Berkshire Museum case is pending Single Justice decision.

“Famed Fishing Port Shudders as Its Codfather Goes to Jail

excerpt from New York Times Feb 11, 2018 article by Jess Bidgood:

“Carlos Rafael, who ruled New Bedford’s fishing of cod and haddock, was caught lying about his catches. Now the piers have grown quiet.” 

“Carlos Rafael, whose initials are emblazoned on boats all over this port city, boasted that his fishing empire was worth even more than official records showed. His trick? When he caught fish that are subject to strict catch limits, like gray sole or cod, he would report that his nets were filled with something far more plentiful, like haddock.

“We call them something else, it’s simple,” Mr. Rafael told visitors who seemed interested in buying his business. “We’ve been doing it for over 30 years.” He showed off a special ledger labeled “cash.” And he described an under-the-table deal he had going with a New York fish buyer, saying at one point, “You’ll never find a better laundromat.”

But Mr. Rafael’s visitors turned out to be Internal Revenue Service agents, and the conversations, caught on tape and described in court documents, began the unraveling of Mr. Rafael, whose reign over a segment of this region’s fishing industry gave him his larger-than-life nickname, “the Codfather…” read the complete article

I didn’t know John Bullard, NOAA Northeast Administrator who worked there from 2012-and retired Jan 5, 2018–was a former Mayor of New Bedford, despite good coverage on his tenure in the Gloucester Daily Times. I missed that detail but it jumped out to me with the sting stories. Maybe more reason to be recused from Gloucester decisions…