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Witness: Victim's jewelry trashed

Valuables taken after a Pasco County widow was slain were tossed away as worthless, according to court testimony.

By JEFF TESTERMAN

© St. Petersburg Times, published October 26, 2000


TAMPA -- A Chicago man who helped fence jewelry taken during the murder of a Pasco County widow mistook most of it for cheap costume jewelry and threw away bracelets, necklaces and rings worth more than $100,000, according to court testimony Wednesday.

Camillo "Southside Frankie" Gigliotti, who helped recruit Anthony Carcione to rob 78-year-old New Port Richey resident Jean Schwarzkopf, said most of the jewelry "looked like junk," so he tossed it into a trash bin outside a Chicago restaurant a few days after Schwarzkopf's death.

That brought an audible gasp from Renee Schwarzkopf, Mrs. Schwarzkopf's only daughter. Later, she and her brother, Richard Schwarzkopf, a former dealer in precious stones, said the trashed jewelry was easily worth six figures.

"That was to be my inheritance," said Renee Schwarzkopf. She said she had never known before Wednesday what had become of her mother's diamond tennis bracelet, pearls and other jewelry.

It was the latest indignity for family members, some of whom averted their eyes and wiped away tears Tuesday when gruesome pictures of Jean Schwarzkopf were exhibited for jurors.

A pathologist said the woman had drowned in her own blood after she was beaten at her Gulf Harbors home, had silk flowers jammed down her throat, was wrapped in silver duct tape from head to toe and was stuffed in a closet next to an unopened safe.

On trial on federal charges of conspiracy to use interstate commerce to murder and rob Mrs. Schwarzkopf is Carcione, 30. Prosecutors say he was recruited in Chicago for the robbery by Gigliotti, 52, and Faris "Freddie" Rafidi, 28, a Chicago restaurant owner.

Federal prosecutors say the heist was set up by Ottavio Volpe, 42, the onetime owner of the La Cosa Nostra Italian bakery in New Port Richey. In a plea agreement, Volpe has pleaded guilty to federal conspiracy charges and will get a recommendation for leniency in return for his cooperation.

Volpe and Carcione could receive life sentences. They also could face additional charges from state prosecutors.

Volpe testified earlier this week that he had long coveted an eight-carat diamond ring worn by Mrs. Schwarzkopf, an acquaintance, and that he had made overtures to Gigliotti and others to con her out of the ring or steal it.

Volpe said Carcione admitted murdering Schwarzkopf. Volpe has also claimed Carcione has made two death threats against him for agreeing to testify.

On Wednesday, federal prosecutor Jeffrey Del Fuoco said Carcione's father, Thomas Carcione, had communicated a new threat to government witness Paul Kendall. Kendall is expected to testify today that when a Latin King gang member tossed a bottle at a car in Chicago carrying Kendall and the younger Carcione, Thomas Carcione said, "I wonder if they'd do that if they knew there was a murderer in the car."

Del Fuoco said Kendall was told that testifying would result in his "being killed by someone from the alleged Elmwood Park Mafia."

Del Fuoco said he considered the matter conspiracy to tamper with federal witnesses. U.S. District Judge Richard Lazarra said he might consider testimony in the matter if a link were established between Anthony Carcione and the alleged actions of his father.

Gigliotti, a convicted drug dealer, testified Wednesday that Volpe had called him to come from Chicago to Florida after the murder and pick up Anthony Carcione.

"He told me, your friend is crazy, he killed a fish in the pond," Gigliotti recalled. "He's got too much gold" to get through metal detectors at the airport.

Gigliotti said he drove his 1983 Lincoln to Valdosta, Ga. to rendezvous with Volpe and Carcione, then drove Carcione back to Chicago. On the way back on I-75, Gigliotti said Carcione threw his shoes out the window, saying they might connect him to the scene of the crime.

Back in Chicago, Gigliotti dumped most of the jewelry, then fenced the eight-carat diamond through Rafidi for $30,000. Carcione was to get $10,000, and Gigliotti and Volpe were each to receive $7,000. But Gigliotti said when he made the split, he shorted Volpe by $3,000, saying, "He had screwed me in the past and I figured I'd get even."

Rafidi has pleaded to one federal charge and is facing a possible five-year prison sentence.

Gigliotti spent two months in jail on contempt charges after initially refusing to testify before a grand jury. He has now been given immunity for his testimony and faces no federal charges.

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