A traffic stop led officers to a bizarre discovery. It happened on a quiet area of Old Metairie two months ago.
According to a Jefferson Parish Sheriff's Office report, a deputy received a tip about two men driving a van with a stolen license plate. He spotted the van driving on Metairie Road and followed it to a home in the 200 block of E. William David Parkway. The report states that as the deputy approached the van, he saw both the passenger and the driver exit the vehicle.
While the stop was for a stolen license plate, the report details that Jefferson Parish deputies found much more. The van was more than it seemed at first glance.
"This is a classic unsophisticated vehicle that can be used for assassination," said James Bernazzani, a retired FBI special agent.
According to the report, investigators found the van stripped and rigged with custom, sliding windows, one behind the driver's seat and one at the rear of the vehicle.
Inside at both windows were sawed off kitchen chairs, facing out. In a folded piece of carpet, deputies found a Ruger semi-automatic rifle hidden in one of the side doors, a silencer, and behind the driver's seat, an eight foot long piece of cannon fuse. According to an Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms spokesperson, their bomb expert was called in to assist.
"When you look at the silencer, the .22 is an assassin's weapon of choice," Bernazzani said.
At the time of the stop, Jefferson Parish deputies had not yet realized they pulled over a pair of convicted felons - the driver, 72-year-old Dominick Gullo and the man initially believed to be his passenger, 55-year-old Joseph Gagliano.
Deputies arrested Gullo and charged him with possession of stolen property. Gagliano was released. No weapons charges were filed by Jefferson Parish authorities.
However, one month later, the federal government indicted both men for being felons in possession of a weapon and a silencer.
"Any convicted felon in possession of a weapon has a five year exposure," Bernazzani said.
This was not Gagliano's first brush with the law. He was convicted back in the 1990's in a wide ranging video poker scheme allegedly involving some of the country's biggest crime families.
Gagliano was one of 19 people arrested and convicted in the Worldwide Gaming case back in 1996 and was sentenced to three-and-a-half years in a federal prison.
Now, both he and Gullo are being held without bond, awaiting federal trials as investigators try and discover what, if anything, the van may have been used for.
"I think this effort was targeting an individual and because of the good work of a police officer, that individual is alive today," Bernazzani said.
An ATF spokesperson said the case remains open and the investigation is ongoing.
Gullo's attorney, Patrick Hand, told us that his client has a heart condition which he says jailers are treating appropriately. He would not get into specifics of the case, but said his client is pleading not guilty.
Both men denied knowledge of the contents inside the van.
FOX 8 was unable to reach Gagliano's attorney.
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