The death of actor James Gandolfini shocked fans around the world. No one saw the man they knew best as fictional mob boss Tony Soprano dying at an age as young as 51. While many were shocked and surprised, another man (allegedly) saw an opportunity.
Italian authorities have charged that man, paramedic Claudio Bevilacqua, with stealing Gandolfini’s $3,000 dollar Rolex Submariner watch while he took the actor’s pulse and they were in the process of trying to resuscitate the dying television icon.
Bevilacqua was the driver of one of two ambulances which arrived at the Rome hotel where Gandolfini lay as he suffered a massive heart attack in the bathroom of the suite he shared with his 13-year-old son. Gandolfini was scheduled to be a keynote speaker at the Taormina Film Festival in Sicily.
He was still alive when he was transported to the hospital, dying shortly after arrival. However, prosecutors have not charged Bevilacqua with any crimes or actions that may have led to Gandolfini’s death.
When another paramedic noticed Gandolfini’s watch had disappeared from his wrist, Bevilacqua is reported to have replied, “Now let’s try to save his life, then someone can worry about the theft.”
And worry someone did indeed.
Gandolfini’s family reported the missing watch to authorities and the insurance company. The subsequent investigation uncovered Bevilacqua’s disappearance trick. His trial is scheduled for November. He faces 5 years behind bars if found guilty.
On a side note: Bevilacqua is also the last name of a fictional character on The Sopranos. Though spelled without a ‘c,’ Matthew Bevilaqua was shot to death by Tony Soprano (played by Gandolfini) and his colleague “Big Pussy” after Bevilaqua had attempted to murder Christopher Moltisante. Bevilaqua was played by Lillo Brancato, who is best-known for his role in A Bronx Tale and was later arrested for a burglary-turned-deadly.
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