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Unclean Equipment at Dentist's Office May have Spread Disease; North Korea Continues Threats Against South Korea, U.S.; Former NFL Player Comes Out as Gay; Veterans Administration Under Fire for Not Providing Care to Veterans in Timely Manner; NBA Player Discussing Living with MS; FBI Announces Progress in Investigation into Stolen Art
Aired March 30, 2013 - 14:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, everyone, I am Fredricka Whitfield. You're in the CNN Newsroom. A look at the top stories now.
For some 7,000 patients in suburban Tulsa, Oklahoma, a trip to the dentist office may have brought life altering consequences today. Many people are getting tested for HIV and hepatitis.
And America's veterans caught in red tape. In about a half hour we're live from Washington where a study says vets aren't getting the care they need after serving our country.
And in the NFL and gay, one former player comes out after hiding his sexuality for years. A CNN exclusive interview with Kwame Harris.
We begin in North Korea. The Pentagon says the country's latest threats amount to nothing more than war mongering rhetoric. Today North Korean media announcing yang was entering a state of war with its southern neighbor. It also compared the U.S. to a boiled pumpkin, saying it was vulnerable to attack. The comments were just the latest in a string of increasingly belligerent threats.
And millions of people across Italy will get to see a famous religious relic today on television. The shroud of Turin is usually kept out of sight in a bulletproof, climate controlled glass case. According to Vatican radio the images have been broadcast just once before in 1973. Some Christians believe the shroud was Jesus' burial cloth.
And Pope Francis marked his first Good Friday as head of the Roman Catholic Church, and in about hour and a half he will preside over holy Saturday myself in St. Peter's basilica. We're live there and will bring it in the next hour.
All right, screenings begin today for thousands of dental patients in this country, Oklahoma, who may be facing a life- threatening health risk. The patients were urged to get tested for HIV and hepatitis after visiting this office in suburban Tulsa. Susan Candiotti has more.
(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) SUSAN CANDIOTTI, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Not many people jump for joy when it is time to go to the dentist. Colton Scott now has more reasons than others to be nervous about his dentist. Scott says he had his wisdom teeth removed last year by Dr. Harrington and just found out he may have contracted an infectious disease during the extraction. His mom and two other relatives went there, too.
COLTON SCOTT, FORMER PATIENT OF TULSA DENTIST: That's the last thing in the world you think going into get your wisdom teeth taken out that you will be exposed to HIV or hepatitis. I mean, it is something that never would have crossed my mind in a million years.
CANDIOTTI: His dentist, Dr. Scott Harrington, came under suspicion after a different patient was diagnosed with HIV and hepatitis c. Investigators for Oklahoma's Board of Dentistry traced the source to Harrington's office. They said what they found was enough to turn their stomachs.
SUSAN ROGERS, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, OKLAHOMA BOARD OF DENTISTRY: We were just physically kind of sick. I mean, I have seen a lot of bad stuff over the years.
CANDIOTTI: Inspectors came up with so much bad stuff they filed 17 violations, which include allegations Harrington was using expired drugs. One vial was dated 1993. Also, even though he used morphine until 2012, none has been delivered since 2009. Failing to test sterilizing equipment -- it's supposed to be tested monthly and wasn't for six years. Unlicensed dental assistants administering sedation, risking contamination by reinserting needles into the same vial, and, get this, using rusty instruments in a patient's mouth.
ROGERS: The instrument that came out were horrible. I wouldn't let me nephews play with them in the dirt. They were horrible. They had rust on them.
CANDIOTTI: The conditions so questionable patients need to be tested now. And on Saturday here at the Tulsa health department free screenings will begin for hepatitis b, c, and HIV.
DR. KRISTY BRADLEY, OKLAHOMA DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH: As many persons who may be infected with these blood born viruses may be infected for years without experiencing any signs of illness.
CANDIOTTI: A scary possibility. Dr. Harrington has seen at least 7,000 patients since 2007. There are many more, but records only go back that far. CNN has been unable to reach the doctor or his lawyer. He has not been charged with a crime, but officials say he has surrendered his dental license. Colton Scott is nervous.
SCOTT: We're all very concerned and apprehensive.
CANDIOTTI: The results of those screenings will take two to three weeks, a very nervous time for a lot of people who will be waiting to exhale.
Susan Candiotti, CNN, Tulsa, Oklahoma. (END VIDEOTAPE)
WHITFIELD: Very frightening stuff.
This might be a little unnerving to some. Do you have any farm rich brand frozen meals and snacks in your freezer? If you do, listen up. It is being recalled because of reported cases of E. Coli. The CDC says 24 cases reported across 15 states involving almost 200,000 pounds of frozen food. Most states impacted are in the south and Midwest.
New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg is not backing down on his push to ban large sugary drinks. The city's legal department is appealing a judge's decision to block the ban, calling it an important part of the mayor's health initiative. Under the ban the board of health would limit the size of drinking cups for sugary beverages to 16 ounces at city food establishments.
And Phil Ramon, the man behind music legends like Aretha Franklin and Bob Dylan, has died. His son says the 14 time Grammy winning producer died this morning. He didn't reveal the cause, but it was reported earlier this month that Ramon was hospitalized for an aortic aneurysm. Over his long career Ramon collaborated with people like Madonna, Paul McCartney, Bono, and Etta James. Aretha Franklin tweeted this, "This is so shocking. Truly one of the great names in music has gone on, but the melodies will remain."
And Billy Joel says "I have lost a dear friend and my greatest mentor. The music world lost a giant today." Phil Ramon was 72 years old.
And another legend in the music business, well, his name Clive Davis, and his new book, "The Soundtrack of My Life," is all about how he became such an incredible hit maker. I asked him about his life, his career, and how he got started in the industry. We'll have that interview for you in the 4:00 eastern hour with Clive Davis.
Also coming up, after years of hiding his sexuality a former NFL player now says he is gay. An emotional interview with the former San Francisco 49ers Kwame Harris only on CNN, next.
WHITFIELD: A former NFL player is coming out of the closet and opening up about his sexuality for the first time. We're talking about Kwame Harris, former offensive tackle for the San Francisco 49ers, who was recently outed in the media. The NFL is not necessarily known for its acceptance of gays, and not one player currently in the NFL is openly gay. Covering the CNN exclusive is Coy Wire, a former NFL linebacker and frequent guest on the show. Coy, good to see you.
COY WIRE, FORMER NFL PLAYER: Good to see you, too.
WHITFIELD: You played with Kwame back at Stanford. He revealed to you in a personal way why now is the time to reveal while he was gay, not as an active player but as a former player. Why?
WIRE: The thing about this is Kwame is such an impressive guy. He not only was one of the best football players at Stanford, he was playing masterpieces on the piano and violin and none of us knew for certain but we could have assumed as much but we didn't care. I went back to the college field and I learned about the fears and mental torment that Kwame experienced.
WIRE: Kwame Harris was always a standout football player. From high school to Stanford University to first round pick in the 2003 draft. He played six seasons in the pros, five with the San Francisco 49ers and one with the Oakland Raiders.
KWAME HARRIS, FORMER NFL PLAYER: I love football. It provided me with some experiences and some opportunities that I wouldn't trade for anything else. But at the same time the cost was great in asking me to not speak candidly or be able to be open about myself in this complete manner.
WIRE: Harris is gay. He says he's always known this, but concealed it until recently.
HARRIS: I wasn't publicly out until about, I don't know, beginning of the super bowl when it was publicized.
WIRE: It was publicized after an alleged altercation with an ex- boyfriend outside a restaurant. Not long after current 49er Chris Culliver made this comment on Artie Lange's radio show.
CHRIS CULLIVER, SAN FRANCISCO 49ER CORNERBACK: They ain't got no gay people on the team. They got to get up out of here if they do.
WIRE: Culliver ultimately apologized, but the sentiment is not uncommon in the sports world. Last baseball season Toronto shortstop Yunel Escobar was suspended for three games for a gay slur written in Spanish in the grease under his eyes. Escobar apologized as well. But it does explain why no player in any of the four major male professional sports in the U.S. has ever come out while playing.
Did you ever consider coming out while you were a player?
HARRIS: Man, no, not while I was playing. I didn't see those two things as being compatible, but now when I look back in hindsight, if I could have done it differently, I would like to think I would find the strength or find the fortitude or the grace to kind of make the hard decision.
WIRE: The Last Closet is an organization to encourage the end of homophobia in male pro sports.
FAWN YACKER, "THE LAST CLOSET": You have to look back to Jackie Robinson's days when he came into baseball. He had some trouble, but it was the management that really took care of him and made it OK.
WIRE: For many players it's a nonissue.
BRENDON AYANBADEJO, BALTIMORE RAVENS LINEBACKER: We're going to support him, and we're going to treat him just like we treat everybody else, every other teammate with love and fairness and kindness and compassion, because we know it's going to be a tough burden on that person.
WIRE: For Harris, the burden almost became too much to bear.
HARRIS: You want to escape the despair, the turmoil, and maybe your mind goes to dark places sometimes. But I would just say that I -- I'm happy today. I'm glad that, you know, I didn't actually. But those are just ideas and I didn't act on any of those things and, you know, it does -- it does get better.
WIRE: You haven't spoken to this to any media at all. So why now?
HARRIS: I want people, athletes still in the closet or youth who aren't quite sure what their sexuality is to realize that not only is that not unique, that those feelings are common feelings. Don't feel incredibly alone in having these questions. And, secondly, that I'm gay and I'm a former athlete and I think I'm a pretty normal guy.
WHITFIELD: Wow. Very candid, very revealing conversation will with Kwame Harris and you. He revealed that he didn't ever considered coming out while he was playing and now he is kind of reflecting on it. Is it kind of exhibiting almost like how instrumental and/or instructive it might have been had he come out while he was an active player?
WIRE: I think so. This process has been cathartic for him. He said he wished that he were able to come out while he was playing, that he had the fortitude, the grace, the strength to be able to do that, and I think the thing he wanted to get across was that any gay athlete out there, even the youth, especially the youth, he wanted them to know, look, you're not alone. These feelings of pressure and strain and torment are completely normal, but that it does get better.
WHITFIELD: Now what for him? How does he I guess try to convey this message, how does he I guess assist or help a lot of young people or other athletes that may be grappling with the same thing he felt tormented by keeping it quiet?
WIRE: I think it is his purpose in this is to raise consciousness and awareness that like you said, they're to close the piece that he is a normal guy. This is not an issue that this should be treated the way it has been treated in the past. This is a matter of equality, much like marriage equality for interracial couples. It wasn't until 1967 that was completely acceptable and legal in every state in the U.S. alone. So this is another one of those instances of inequality that continues to exist in our country.
WHITFIELD: Has he said anything about what it feels like to hear the ravens current player really wrap his arms around him and say, you know, we need to be embracing everyone?
WIRE: Those are the guys who are really empowering people like Kwame and giving them the peace to be able to speak openly about this this, which ultimately will help the youth, right? That is what is important now, to have the people embracing this gay community and saying that it is OK, that equality is necessary.
WHITFIELD: Coy Wire, thanks so much for bringing that to us, really very touching.
Ted Olson and David Boyd battled each other over the presidential election in 2000. Today they're working together in the same sex marriage debate now before the high court. We go in-depth with them in a special report on CNN, "Marriage Warriors," tonight at 7:30 eastern time.
Boston students say what they're doing is a matter of health and safety, but their college is ordering them to stop handing out condemns.
WHITFIELD: A major Catholic University is telling its students to stop handing out condoms. Our senior medical correspondent Elizabeth Cohen has the story from Boston College.
ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Boston College, a deeply Catholic institution, where crosses don't go well with condoms.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Male condoms, female condoms.
COHEN: Senior Lizzie Jekanowski has organized a condom distribution network on public street corners and in dorm rooms marked with this symbol. If you're in need of condoms, you may knock on one of these doors and just ask, the group's website says.
LIZZIE JEKANOWSKI, SENIOR, BOSTON COLLEGE: We go through almost 2,000 condoms every semester for students that need them. It is very much an important need here.
COHEN: And that is getting these students in trouble.
Boston College sent this letter to the students demanding they stop. Distributing condoms here, isn't in concert with the mission of Boston college as a Catholic and Jesuit university, and if you don't stop, they said, there could be disciplinary action.
Jack Dunn is a spokesman for Boston College. You know the students are having sex.
JACK DUNN, SPOKESMAN, BOSTON COLLEGE: Right. If they want to purchase condoms - and have them available for their private lives, that's their business. Our issue is don't try to publicly distribute condoms on our church steps, on our campus, through our dormitories.
COHEN: He says even he was approached while coming out of a church service.
DUNN: A person from this group attempted to hand me a condom, and it was inappropriate. And I said really? Do you really need to do that?
COHEN: But Jekanowski says the group has never distributed on campus except in dorm rooms. This isn't the first high profile condom dispute on a Catholic campus. In 2009 the "Boston Globe" reported stone hill college in Massachusetts confiscated condoms being handed out for free in opportunity dormitories. Sometime he hopes to sit down and work it out after Easter break.
But Jekanowski doesn't seem to be in a mood to talk. She says this is a health issue and stopping unwanted pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases, and even if BC threatens to yank her diploma this spring, she won't stop.
JEKANOWSKI: The work that we're doing is invaluable, and that will not compromise what we're doing in any way.
COHEN: Elizabeth Cohen, CNN, Newton, Massachusetts.
WHITFIELD: And Chris Wright was playing professional basketball in turkey last year working toward achieving his lifelong dream of playing in the NBA. Then one day at practice something happened that changed his life but not as goal. Chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta has his story in this week's human factor.
DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: With less than three minutes left in the game against the Atlanta Hawks, Dallas Mavericks point guard Chris Wright is in the game. Playing in the NBA has been his lifelong dream, but it almost didn't come true.
CHRIS WRIGHT, NBA PLAYER: My foot started to get numb, and progressively worse and the next morning I got up to shoot and early in the morning and probably like 7:00 in the morning, something like that and I got up and shot and while shooting my whole right leg went numb. Right foot went numb. Basically it all went all the way up to my back.
GUPTA: Last year wright was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, MS, a disease that damages the protective covering of nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord. It is a disease he had never heard of.
WRIGHT: I didn't know what it was. I just was being positive about it and once I found out I was still positive, OK, I have to do what I have to do to maintain my life.
GUPTA: Doctors told Wright he would never play basketball again. But he responded well to treatment and less than three months after his diagnosis, wright was back on the court. He made history when he signed a 10-day contract with the Dallas mavericks, becoming the first person with MS to play in the NBA. While it may have only been a short stint, wright believes this won't not last time he will play in the NBA.
WRIGHT: Everything happens for a reason and everything you go through definitely is not a coincident and can happened during MS awareness week, so everything kind of fell into place.
GUPTA: Monthly treatments are keeping his MS from progressing and he is not shying away from his diagnosis. Wright says he is proud to be the face of MS.
WRIGHT: Don't be afraid to step out and do what you want to do. That's my message to everyone ahead. Don't believe a crippling disease may wreck your life. There may be limitations but you can still live your life. I wear that on my chest proudly. I am a part of the ms society, and that's what I am.
GUPTA: Dr. Sanjay Gupta, CNN reporting.
WHITFIELD: And caring for our vets -- coming up, a new study says the government can't keep up with the veterans who need care. We're live from Washington with details.
WHITFIELD: The Pentagon says North Korea's latest threat amounts to nothing more than war mongering rhetoric. Today North Korean media announced that Pyongyang was entering a, quote, "state of war" with its southern neighbor. It also compared the U.S. a boiled pumpkin, saying it was vulnerable to attack. The comments were just the latest in a string of increasingly belligerent threats.
The U.S. Navy is looking into what caused a deadly parachute accident involving Navy Seals. One Seal is dead. He is identified as special warfare operator chief Brett Chadle. It happened on Thursday during a training exercise at the command facility in Arizona. They were doing a free fall routine before opening the parachutes. A second Seal is hospitalized with injuries.
And 35 educators in Atlanta have been indicted in one of the largest cheating scandals to hit the nation's public school system. They're accused of fabricating test scores for years and profiting from it. Former superintendent Beverly Hall is among those indicted, but in 2009 she won national superintendent of the year. Hall faces up to 45 years in prison.
A steel beam cross found in the degree from the World Trade Center will not be removed from the 9/11 museum in lower Manhattan. A judge tossed out a lawsuit that tried to get it removed. It was filed by a group of atheists that says the cross is a religious symbol and say it does not honor the memory of the non-Christian victims. The judge said the cross has historical significance.
Here is a look at what's trending online. UPS has agreed to pay a $40 million fine to end a federal investigation into allegations that it did business with illegal online pharmacies. In exchange the U.S. department agreed not to prosecute the company.
Former South African president Nelson Mandela is resting comfortably in the hospital this afternoon. A statement from the president's office says the soon to be 95-year-old was admitted this week because of pneumonia. Doctors say the treatment is going well and he is able to breathe without any difficulty.
And Pope Francis washed and kissed the feet of 12 prisoners this week, all juvenile offenders. He also broke with tradition and washed the feet of two women, one of whom is Muslim. It was part of the Holy Thursday rituals ahead of Easter.
Two former political powerhouses and a Hollywood star made some news in the nation's capital this week. CNN political editor Paul Steinhauser has the stories you may have missed.
PAUL STEINHAUSER, CNN POLITICAL EDITOR: Hey, Fred, same-sex marriage, gun control, and immigration reform, they dominated the headlines this week. And that means some stories were overlooked. But that's OK. I've got your back.
ASHLEY JUDD, ACTRESS: I loved being at the University of Kentucky.
STEINHAUSER: Ashley Judd may have loved being a senator from Kentucky as well, but that's a role the actress won't be playing any time soon. Judd announced she won't launch a Democratic challenge to Mitch McConnell, the top Republican in the chamber.
SARAH PALIN, (R) FORMER ALASKA GOVERNOR: The next election is 20 months away. The last thing we need is Washington, D.C. vetting our candidates.
STEINHAUSER: Sarah Palin is back. Just two weeks after her well received speech at a major conservative conference, her political action committee is out with a new video.
PALIN: Time for we the people.
STEINHAUSER: The message appears to be the former Alaska governor and Republican vice presidential nominee will be a player in next year's mid-term election.
Is it back to the future for Bob Barr?
BOB BARR, (R) FORMER CONGRESSMAN: I decided to jump back in the fray because we desperately need some experience and some leadership in Washington.
STEINHAUSER: The former Republican representative from Georgia announced he is running to return to congress. Back in the '90s, Barr, who was a ring leader in the impeachment of Bill Clinton was considered one of the most conservative men members of the House. When he lost his seat and later made a bid as a libertarian, and now he is back with the GOP and hoping to return to Capitol Hill. Fred?
WHITFIELD: Thank you so much, Paul Steinhauser.
From PTSD to pain, a new study says America's veterans aren't getting the care they need. The Institute of Medicine says backlogs and red tape are keeping the government from keeping up with the claims. Athena Jones has more from Washington.
ATHENA JONES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, 10 years of fighting, a lifetime of pain for millions of veterans.
GEOFF MILLARD, IRAQ WAR VETERAN: At nighttime I have terrible nightmares.
JONES: And 32-year-old Geoff Millard suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder and back pain after a 13 month tour in Iraq. He hasn't gotten a full night's rest in years.
MILLARD: I have a lot of pain that will wake me up throughout the night a bunch of times.
JONES: He has a full time job working with homeless veterans and gets 50 percent disability benefits but needs more government help to get the intensive treatment he needs.
MILLARD: There are programs, but they're usually pretty intense and they're offered during the daytime, and I work full time.
JONES: Veterans like Millard are frustrated with the government system that wasn't ready for them. He has appealed for 100 percent disability, but his appeal is stuck in a claims backlog of more than 600,000 cases.
MILLARD: The fact is that they should have been ready for this. They should have known. They should have been putting in dollar for dollar into the VA what they were putting into the war.
JONES: A new study by the Institute of Medicine shows the federal government can't keep up with the needs of more than 2 million Americans who served overseas since 9/11.
GEORGE RUTHERFORD, UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA, SAN FRANCISCO: These people have volunteered for the service. There is an inherent commitment of society to take care of them. If they have been unfortunately wounded in action, either mentally or physically, and we're basically going to be taking care of some of these people until the day they die.
JONES: The Pentagon plans a careful look at the study's key findings and says they will work with the Veterans' Administration to provide a response to Congress by June. VA officials say they have a plan to fix the backlog.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Our commitment is we're going to end the backlog in 2015. This has been decades in the making, ten years of war.
JONES: But 2015 is a long way away for Millard.
MILLARD: To me two years of waiting is two years without treatment. Imagine you had a debilitating injury and had to wait two years for treatment.
WHITFIELD: Athena Jones joining us live from Washington. So apart from ending this claims backlog, is there anything else the VA can do to help veterans like him?
JONES: Well, there is. Particularly the veteran we spoke with, this is someone who works a full time job. He has to work a full time job to help support himself, and that means that he can't go to treatment during the day and for folks like him and lots of other vets. If the VA had treatment programs that were available, for instance, at night, sessions at night, or on the weekend, that could make it easier for these folks to both work and get the treatment they need, Fred.
WHITFIELD: Is this an issue of supply and demand, you have a whole lot of people that have a lot of needs all at the same time?
JONES: Exactly, a lot of people. They spoke about 2 million people who have served overseas since 9/11. Some of those people of course are still active duty, but a lot of them, hundreds of thousands are veterans. And you have issues across the country in rural areas you have veterans who are far away from a VA hospital or VA center.
And in urban areas you have folks who may have post-traumatic stress disorder in a big city, hundreds or even thousands of veterans, and there are not enough therapists in the city to treat all of those people. It is a complicated problem, and it is a problem all over the country, Fred.
WHITFIELD: Athena Jones, thanks so much, in Washington.
Around 800,000 government workers will have fewer furlough days. Coming up, why there won't be as many forced days off for some people in the defense department.
WHITFIELD: There is a little good news for civilian defense department employees. The Pentagon says its furloughs will be 14 days instead of 22. Defense secretary Chuck Hagel says Congress gave the agency some wiggle room in its budget. This impacts nearly 800,000 workers. The Pentagon has to trim as many as $41 billion because of forced budget cuts that went into effect earlier in the month.
"American Idol" seems to be falling off the ratings cliff. The singing competition had just over 7 million viewers Thursday, the lowest rating in the show's 12-year history according to entertainment reports. It was also down seven percent from the previous week's show. Hard to believe it has been on the air that long.
So from the housing market to the stock market, it was another record breaker on Wall Street. Here is Dane Asher.
DANE ASHER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Fred, it was another week for the record books on Wall Street, this time the S&P 500 stole the spotlight, the index that tracks mutual and retirement funds broke through its previous all-time high to hit levels we haven't seen since October of 2007. The Dow touched a new record level as well, brings to a close what was a stellar quarter for the three major averages, the Dow, the NASDAQ, and the S&P 500 all gained eight to 11 percent in the first three months of the year, mainly thanks to the open flow of stimulus from the fed along with a slowly improving economy.
And it wasn't just a retirement funds making money. We learn this had week home prices also rose, too. S&P Schiller says prices rose more than eight percent in January compared to a year ago with home values going up in all 20 cities that it surveyed. It adds to a string of upbeat news from the housing market including improving home sales and construction and falling foreclosures.
Can you imagine being 17 years old and never having to worry about money again? Yahoo! announced it is buying Sumly app for a reported $30 million. A teenager built the app to make it easy to study for exams. It boils down news stores into chunks of readable text on your phone. It is a big news for Yahoo! which has been trying to expand its presence in the mobile arena. Fred?
WHITFIELD: Very impressive. How did he do that?
All right, 13 works of art cut out of frames and simply stolen, and haven't been seen in more than 20 years. Now there is new hope the painting could be found.
WHITFIELD: A break in a 23-year-old mystery could bring investigators one step closer to finding 13 stolen pieces of art. They were cut right out of their frames in the dead of the night from the Isabella Stewart Gardner museum in Boston, and now the FBI says they know who did it. Lisa Sylvester takes us through the heist.
LISA SYLVESTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: At 1:24 in the morning in Boston, the day after St. Patrick's Day in 1990, two men dressed as police officers bluffed their way in, saying they hear there was a disturbance at the Isabella Stewart Gardner museum. They tied up the guards on duty and took them down to the basement. During the next 81 minutes they committed one of the largest property thefts in history, taking 13 different artworks, now worth about half a billion dollars.
ANTHONY AMORE, CHIEF OF SECURITY, GARDNER MUSEUM: Imagine if you could never hear Beethoven's Fifth or any great piece of music that you enjoy, it is just dedicated to memory. That's the same when you lose a painting like the ones we lost, these singular master works but some of the world's greatest artists.
SYLVESTER: The thieves entered the first floor and went to the blue room and stole a Monet painting. Then they went up to the second floor. In the Dutch room they stole six paintings, some of them cut out of the frames. Among them, three Rembrandts including the artist's only seascape, and a Vermeer. There are only 34 Vermeer paintings believe to exist. Then they crossed into the short gallery and took another six art pieces, including five Degas paintings.
The 13 masterpieces have never been recovered, no arrests made. But after combing through thousands of leads that have taken investigators around the world, the FBI announced it now knows who took the artwork. Investigators say they're reasonably sure organized crime was involved.
RICHARD DESLAURIERS, SPECIAL AGENT IN CHARGE, BOSTON FBI: We have reason to believe it is likely the artwork has changed hands several times and that those who might be in possession of the paintings right now might not necessarily have been those that were involved in the original theft.
SYLVESTER: But where are those 13 pieces of art now? The FBI says it does not believe the pieces ever left the country. They say about 12 years ago some of the masterpieces were seen in Connecticut and Philadelphia where someone tried to sell them.
GEOFF KELLY, SPECIAL AGENT, BOSTON FBI: I don't know if all 13 pieces are still together. We have received information we have been able to corroborate showing the paintings may have been in different locations at different times.
SYLVESTER: The two men who committed the crime will likely never be charged because the statute of limitations was up after 20 years. And prosecutors are open to the idea of immunity for anyone with information about the artwork. At the gallery empty frames hang on the wall.
AMORE: It is incredibly rare for a painting to be destroyed beyond a conservator's ability to repair it.
SYLVESTER: One reason for the high level of confidence is they are offering a $5 million reward. The museum says it is one of the largest private rewards ever put up. They're someone may have seen these paintings in an attic, a basement, a home. They're asking if you have information, contact the FBI.
Lisa Sylvester, CNN, Washington. (END VIDEOTAPE)
WHITFIELD: For 23 years those works have been missing, but you just heard the official say. They believe they are still in the U.S. I am joined now by Chris Marinello, a lawyer that specializes in the recovery of stolen art. Good to see you. How likely is it that these works of art will really be recovered?
CHRIS MARINELLO, ART LOSS REGISTER: I think it is very likely that they will be recovered and I think they will be recovered soon.
MARINELLO: The FBI in my opinion is very close and they're getting closer.
WHITFIELD: Why do you suppose that is? What is it going to take? Obviously they can't sell them. They came close to thinking they had a sale and didn't. What is it going to take in order for authorities to get their hands on these stolen pieces of art?
MARINELLO: That reward of $5 million has been out there for some time, and I believe it has been increased from $1 million or $2 million when the theft first occurred. What is needed is I think an intermediary, and I volunteered a few weeks ago to serve as an intermediary in case the people that have this artwork are a little reluctant to approach law enforcement, maybe out of fear they might be a sting operation involved. But it has been approved by the FBI, and I am willing to do that.
WHITFIELD: And so is this how you helped recovery a painting in 1987 where you acted as intermediary or is there another role you played.
MARINELLO: I have done this before. The Matisse painting was offered to my organization just a few weeks during Christmas. And we checked the marketplace to see if stolen art is being sold, and someone tried to sell this Matisse after 25 years. So 25 years is not that unusual for stolen art of this magnitude to resurface.
WHITFIELD: So the other pieces of artwork we're talking about that was stolen previously, they're now searching for, have they lost their value since they were cut out of the frame?
MARINELLO: Well, that is a major problem, but art can be restored, and there are professionals out there that will restore these pieces to what they once were. I don't think that that's diminished their value at all.
WHITFIELD: OK, all right, Chris Marinello, thanks so much for your time and all the best in the ongoing search. Let us know if you end up being a roped into this search since you are volunteering. Let us know.
MARINELLO: I have no interest in ending Boston harbor, but I would like to see these pieces back in the Walden museum. WHITFIELD: You and many people, of course. Thank you so much, Chris. Good to see you.
MARINELLO: Thank you.
WHITFIELD: Keeping yourself safe from germs and avoiding crazy charges at hotels. Forget what you think you may know because we have some dos and don'ts you will want to hear next.
WHITFIELD: The Cinderella story of March Madness is over. Last night Florida Gulf Coast University started out strong and led the Florida Gators, but in the end the 15th seed couldn't handle the power. The Michigan wolverines came from behind against number one team Kansas. Forcing overtime, Michigan took the lead and held onto win by just two points. In other action, Louisville defeated Oregon and Duke won over Michigan State to advance.
Hotels, they always invite to you make yourself feel at home. Even with the warmest hospitality there are still areas you don't want to get too comfortable. Here is Karin Caifa.
KARIN CAIFA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Smarter Travel recently compiled a list of hotel dos and don'ts, and the first habit to avoid starts as soon as you check in.
ANNE BANAS, SMARTER TRAVEL EXECUTIVE EDITOR: Never reveal your room number. A lot of times when you check in they will say it out loud. Ask them to write it down on paper first. That gives you a lot of protection. You never know who is listening.
CAIFA: By now everyone has heard stories about the remote control being the ickiest item in the hotel room. Resist the urge to flop around on the bedspread.
BANAS: You don't want to take any risks. Throw it on the floor and go from there.
CAIFA: No one wants to think about washing dishes on vacation. But drinking from in room glasses or mugs without a rinse can also be a major don't.
BANAS: There have been reports with housekeeping staff actually cleaning those with Windex, and not just the low end hotels. There are also high end hotels, so give them a quick rinse.
CAIFA: Speaking of beverages, be careful with the mini bar. Many have sensors and even picking up an item and setting it back down could cost you at checkout.
Karin Caifa, CNN, Washington.
(END VIDEOTAPE) WHITFIELD: And he has been described as a man of a breathtaking cynicism, and when you hear his story, you will know why. Coming up, the fake lawyer that duped the fame us and powerful.
WHITFIELD: It's 3:00 p.m. on the east coast, noon out west. For those of you joining us, welcome to the CNN Newsroom. I'm Fredricka Whitfield. Here is a look at the top stories.
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