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Klarinet Archive - Posting 000029.txt from 2000/04

Subj: [kl] The Curse of the Stolen Viola
Date: Sun, 2 Apr 2000 03:52:47 -0400

From: (Orchestra-L)

Thursday March 30 8:02 AM ET
Woman Sentenced in Viola Murder Plot

CHICAGO (AP) - A woman who stole a rare Italian viola from a junk
dealer, conspired to have him murdered and later married him, has been
sentenced to two years in federal prison.

Wednesday's sentence ended a strange saga that went awry when Quintella
Benson and her co-conspirator hired an undercover FBI agent masquerading
asa professional killer to bump off Boisie Watson.

Benson, 35, pleaded guilty to federal murder conspiracy charges last
August. She could have been sentenced to five years in prison but got a
break from U.S. District Judge William Hart who noted that she helped
prosecutors to gather evidence against her co-conspirator, Robert Heiss,
a 73-year-old cookie maker and building owner with severe money trouble.

The 274-year-old Dom Nicolo Amati viola belonged to the Chicago Symphony
Orchestra. It had been left on the sidewalk by one of the musicians and
purchased by Watson for $90 at a flea market.

Benson, then Watson's common-law wife, admitted stealing the instrument
from under Watson's bed and giving it to Heiss, who took it to a dealer
for appraisal. The dealer recognized it as the symphony's and called the

Benson and Heiss admitted planning to hire a hit man to kill Watson and
his business partner. But their gun-for-hire turned out to be Frank
Marrocco, a Chicago-based FBI agent who specializes in posing as a
professional killer.

Benson and Watson have since reconciled and are now married.

Heiss pleaded guilty to conspiracy in September and was sentenced to
seven years and three months in prison.

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