Inmate: Gentz told story of killing Jane Bashara alone

Oralandar Brand-Williams
The Detroit News

A fellow inmate of the handyman who admitted killing Jane Bashara testified Tuesday that Joseph Gentz told him and others that he acted alone in the 2012 murder of the Grosse Pointe Park woman.

Paralegal Carlo Vartinelli, who is serving life for first-degree criminal sexual conduct, appeared before Judge Vonda Evans of Wayne County Circuit Court to answer questions about the affidavit he says he took from Gentz late last year while serving time with him at the Macomb Correctional facility. The affidavit was taken from 12 pages of allegedly handwritten notes that Gentz signed on Dec. 2.

“I told him, ‘I don’t want to get involved in anything illegal,’ ” said Vartinelli. “’You got a questionable character Joe.’”

But, said Vartinelli, after much “pestering” by Gentz, he gave in and typed up the affidavit detailing Jane Bashara’s murder.

Gentz originally admitted killing Jane Bashara at the behest of her husband, Robert, was convicted in the murder and is serving up to 28 years in prison.

Robert Bashara was convicted of orchestrating the slaying and sentenced to life. He also is serving up to 20 years for trying to have Gentz killed in prison. Bashara is seeking a new trial.

But in the affidavit, filed in January, Gentz said he killed Jane Bashara on his own because he was mad that her husband had not paid him for odd jobs done at Robert Bashara’s rental properties.

Vartinelli said Tuesday that Gentz had been telling the “whole story” about Jane Bashara’s murder to other prisoners. Vartinelli said he decided to write up the affidavit for Gentz. He said he “tested” Gentz’s veracity by putting inaccuracies in Gentz’s accounts of the murder, which the handyman corrected.

Gentz later came back to Vartinelli, asking him to pass the information on to “them,” Vartinelli testified Tuesday. Vartinelli said he contacted a private investigator he is working with to clear his own name, to help find Bashara’s attorney.

Robert Bashara’s appellate attorney, Ronald Ambrose, was contacted about the affidavit, which puts the murder solely on Gentz.

Robert Bashara is due in court April 12 for a hearing as part of his bid for a new trial. Gentz is scheduled to testify as well. Vartinelli’s wife also has been subpoenaed to testify.

Vartinelli complained Tuesday that his wife was being “stalked” by process servers seeking to serve her with court papers.

“She said some people have been following her in a car and stalking her,” Vartinelli testified. “She said they have a subpoena. She told me (it happened) a couple ... three times.”

When asked by Ambrose if he knows Robert Bashara, Vartinelli answered “no.”

“I don’t know that man at all,” said Vartinelli. “I don’t know his family. I don’t know of anyone acquainted with him.”

The judge refused a motion from Ambrose alleging prosecutorial misconduct over the subpoena to Vartinelli’s wife.

Evans told him he has “wasted the court’s time” because he exaggerated the number of times court officers tried to reach out to her to serve her with a subpoena.

“You made it sound like the prosecutor’s office was being overbearing,” Evans said. “We didn’t have any of that.”

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