Lem Satterfield

Court battle over Gatti’s estate begins Tuesday; investigators’ announcement Wednesday

A civil trial is set to begin in Montreal on Tuesday to settle how the multimillion-dollar estate of late Canadian boxing titleholder Arturo Gatti will be divided, according to a report by The Canadian Press.

Gatti’s family in Montreal had requested a delay so that it could study the findings of a private nearly 11-month long probe into the fighter's death, the results of which will be announced on Wednesday by investigators who will conclude that his demise was a homicide and not a suicide, lead investigator Paul Ciolino told RingTV.com.

"The judge in Montreal is being very unfair to the Gatti family, and she's not letting them play on a level playing field," Ciolino told RingTV.com on Monday.

"She is not looking at evidence that is just critical to the entire case. She's ignoring all of the experts that we have involved in this case, and their credentials as well."

Ciolino and the family had hoped to introduce elements of the investigation into the Montreal court case, but presiding judge Justice Claudine Roy has ruled that the three-week trial must begin.

"The admissibility of this report would certainly be vigorously contested, notably because the author relies on hearsay. He expresses the opinion that Mr. Gatti did not commit suicide," according to Roy's ruling in The Canadian Press.

"Mr. Gatti is a public personality and his death made waves and is still doing so. This should not stop a fair and equitable trial from taking place to decide the fate of his estate."

The Chicago-based Ciolino was hired along with his partner, Joe Moura, by Gatti's manager, Pat Lynch, who refuses to believe that Gatti took his own life.

Ciolino said that his findings will be revealed during a press conference on Wednesday at the Global Boxing Gym in North Bergen, N.J.

Gatti, 37, was found dead on July 11, 2009 in his hotel room in the Brazilian seaside resort of Porto de Galihnas. He was vacationing with his wife, Amanda Rodrigues, who was arrested and charged with his murder but later, released.

Brazilian police eventually concluded after an autopsy that Gatti hanged himself from a wooden staircase column using a handbag strap.

A second autopsy in Quebec, Canada in 2009 was observed by Michael Baden, former police pathologist and host of the HBO show "Autopsy," at the request of Gatti's family. Baden said coroners didn’t rule out homicide as a cause of death.

Rodrigues and the Gatti family are embroiled in a bitter dispute over the late boxer’s fortune, valued at several million dollars, according to the Canadian Press.

Central to the debate is the validity of two wills with different beneficiaries — one that was changed three weeks before his death and left everything to Rodrigues, and another from 2007 that Gatti’s family says is valid and leaves them his fortune, according to the Canadian Press.

"The problem of course is that someone is trying to claim money from Arturo Gatti's estate who could be involved in the death of the person whose estate is in question. They shouldn't get any money. Certainly Amanda Rodrigues is a person of extreme interest in this case," said Ciolino.

"As Arturo's wife, she is in a fight with his family over the money for his estate. The judge says that she doesn't need to see our report, and that's it's all hearsay and that she's going to go on with the trial starting tomorrow, which is unfair."

Ciolino said that his findings are based on research done by "six of the most preimenent experts in the country who have been involved in homicide investigations."

"Suicide has been ruled out by all of the experts," said Ciolino, "and the criminal profiler and crime scene expert has absolutely determined that Arturo Gatti's death is not a suicide, and that it's a homicide."

Gatti, nicknamed "Thunder," was known for his blood-and-guts approach to boxing. He was as fierce and resilient as any fighter.

Gatti will forever be remembered for his riveting trilogy with Micky Ward but Lynch said the fighter's biggest victory was over Tracy Harris Patterson in December 1995, which earned him his first of two world titles.

Gatti was Atlantic City's biggest draw, often packing Boardwalk Hall, where he lost to Floyd Mayweather Jr. by fifth-round knockout in his first big-time pay-per-view bout in in June 2005.

 

Lem Satterfield can be reached at lem.satterfield@gmail.com

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