A 69-year-old former caviar dealer named Isidoro Garbarino plead guilty in U.S. District Court in Manhattan yesterday. Garbarino, who is also known as “Mario,” once ran a company called Aquamar Gourmet Imports and was first arrested in November of 1987 for dodging taxes, passing off domestic shovelnose sturgeon roe as a more expensive Baltic product, and illegally importing “more than 100,000 pounds of Russian and Iranian caviar in the 1980s.” Garbarino was free on bail when he disappeared in 1989, and the AP reports he was arrested in September by U.S. Marshals while he was changing planes in Panama.
According to a New York Times profile written by Craig Claiborne in 1984, Garbarino started off as a cabin boy on an Italian cruise ship in the sixties. He waited tables at the famed Orsini’s in New York before setting up shop as an importer.
As part of his plea, Garbarino will pay $3 million in restitution. He will be sentenced on January 7, and faces up to four years in jail.