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Anthony (Tony) Romano

Tony Romano was a petty criminal with a serious drug problem. After assisting FBI agent David Nadolski and local police in the recovery of four priceless books, including a family Bible stolen from the John Quincy Adams family estate in Quincy, Romano was paroled from state prison and went to work for Carmello Merlino at his auto repair shop in Dorchester. Within a short time, Romano re-connected with Nadolski to tell him that Merlino was plotting to rob a nearby armored car depot in Easton and was talking about recovering the stolen Gardner Museum art. Nadolski convinced Romano to wear a wire. For months beginning in late 1997, Romano secretly recorded dozens of conversations with Merlino and several others as they plotted the armored car headquarters’ robbery. Although lawyers for the four arrested men stressed that the FBI has set them up in the robbery to force their cooperation on the Gardner case, the secret recordings made by Romano showed the four were willing participants and led to their convictions. Romano was relocated to Florida and given a new identity by the FBI. Soon he fell back into his drug-using habits. He later died of a brain aneurysm.

— Written by Stephen Kurkjian

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