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Gatti's widow considered a suspect, U.S. assets frozen
Anthony Pope: "We gave a good faith basis to show that this was a murder, and that Amanda Rodrigues was involved in the murder. Until the lawsuit is resolved, we don't want the assets to go anywhere and to anyone."
No matter what happens in the Quebec Superior Court regarding the case of late boxer Arturo Gatti, his widow, Amanda Rodrigues, will not get any of his money, according to New Jersey-based attorney Anthony Pope, and Paul Ciolino, the lead investigator into Gatti's death.
Pope and Ciolino said Gatti's assets have been frozen as the result of a wrongful death lawsuit filed against Rodrigues on behalf of Erika Rivera, the mother of Gatti's daughter.
"There has been no serious discussions as Amanda [Rodrigues] wants the wrongful death case to disappear," said Ciolino. "But that's not going to happen. Erika Rivera is interested in justice -- not dollars."
"There is a lawsuit that was filed two weeks ago in Middlesex County for wrongful death, alleging Amanda Rodrigues's involvement in the murder of her husband, Arturo Gatti. Accompanying that lawsuit was a request from the court for emergent relief that does in fact freeze all assets that we're aware of, and the court, in fact, granted that relief," said Pope.
"What that does is that it basically says that we gave a good faith basis to show that this was a murder, and that Amanda Rodrigues was involved in the murder. Until the lawsuit is resolved, we don't want the assets to go anywhere and to anyone."
That means that Rodrigues must win her case in America in order to obtain the settlement funds.
"The assets have been frozen, the piggy bank shut down," said Ciolino. "Amanda's next battle is in New Jersey. She had better bring her hard hat, because there will not be any sympathy for her in the U.S."
Ciolino claims that the results of an 11-month investigation into Gatti's death not only rule out the initial verdict of suicide, but point to Rodrigues as a potential culprit in the murder of Gatti, who was found dead in July of 2009 while the couple was on vacation in Brazil.
"If, in fact, a jury were to conclude that Amanda Rodrigues was responsible, or complicit in the murder of Arturo Gatti," said Pope, "then she could not and she would not, under statute in New Jersey, be entitled to any of the assets."
Brazilian authorities initially said Rodrigues was a prime suspect in the case. She spent three weeks in a Brazilian jail before being released after an autopsy in that country concluded that Gatti had committed suicide.
That report said Gatti hanged himself with a handbag strap from a wooden staircase column in their apartment, but Ciolino and a panel of experts revealed earlier this month in North Bergan, N.J., that they are convinced Gatti was murdered, their findings the result of an 11-month private investigation.
"The Brazilians are talking about re-opening the murder case," said Ciolino. "So there still is a whole criminal action that is pending in Brazil no matter what happens with all of this civil stuff."
Ciolino believes that Rodrigues was involved.
"The family believes that Amanda was implicitly involved in the death of their son and brother. The law is everywhere that if you had something to do with somebody's murder, then you can't inherit any money from them," said Ciolino.
"The courts in the U.S. will actually want to see the evidence in this case, and there is an abundance of it. There are still people who want to see justice for Arturo. They are determined and it will happen. It won't happen soon, but it will happen."
Ciolino and Pope are responding in the wake of an ongoing civil trial in Montreal aimed at settling how Gatti's estimated $3.4 million estate will be divided.
Since Gatti's death, Rodrigues and Gatti family, led by his younger brother, Fabrizio Gatti, have been at odds.
But on Tuesday, the lawyers of Fabrizio Gatti and the 23-year-old Rodrigues were attempting to work out a deal, according to The Montreal Gazette.
Central to the civil case involving Gatti's estate is the validity of one will that was changed three weeks before his death and left everything to Rodrigues, and another from 2007 that leaves the fortune to his family.
Gatti's family believes that Rodrigues pressured the fighter into signing the second will, and asserts further that the will from 2007 leaves everything to his mother, his brother and Sofia, his daughter with Rivera.
Amanda's son, Arturo Jr., 3, was not born until after the first will.
Fabrizio wants the money to be split evenly between Gatti's two children, with nothing being left for Rodrigues.
"Even if Amanda wins in Canada, she can't get a penny. So Amanda has got to appear in court in the United States and answer these charges, and that could take years," said Ciolino.
"She has to make a deal with Erika and the Gatti family, because she won't be able to get at any money right now -- no matter what happens in Canada."
Lem Satterfield can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org