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LAPD: 2002 execution murders tied to Wall Street scheme, stolen jewelry

Sandy_mandy_bentley Los Angeles Police Department detectives believe a mysterious 9-year-old double murder was tied to an elaborate Wall Street ponzi scheme and a plan to sell expensive jewelry.

The killing of the two men on a quiet Studio City street has perplexed detectives, who have been slowly trying to unravel what happened.

Despite initial progress in the case, police said they need more help to close it. They hope it will come in the form of information generated by a $75,000 reward being proposed Friday by Los Angeles City Councilman Paul Krekorian, whose district includes the crime scene.

On Labor Day 2002, a Mercedes-Benz sport utility vehicle was found ablaze on a quiet street in Studio City. Inside were the bullet-riddled bodies of two friends -- nightclub doorman Michael Tardio, 35, and 31-year-old storage business owner Christopher Monson.

As they delved into the case, detectives uncovered an intriguing back story that included a Playboy cover model, a $40-million Wall Street investment ponzi scheme and an ill-fated bid by Tardio to sell as much as $700,000 worth of jewelry purchased with ill-gotten proceeds.

Tardio, a former model and nightclub doorman who moved to Los Angeles from New York in 1998, and Monson, an aspiring actor who ran a self-storage business in Culver City, were part of the Hollywood club scene, police said. 

It was in that world where Tardio met Sandy Bentley, who with her twin sister, Mandy Bentley, became minor celebrities by appearing on the May 2000 cover of Playboy and dating the magazine's founder, Hugh Hefner, living with him at his mansion in Holmby Hills in 1999 and 2000.

By the fall of 2002, Sandy Bentley was dating Tardio, whom she persuaded to quietly sell off her cache of jewels, the gift of another former boyfriend, disgraced Wall Street trader Mark Yagalla, police said.

Tardio made several efforts to sell the jewels on behalf of Bentley, who is not a suspect in the case. After those efforts failed, Tardio believed he had found a person to buy the jewelry, which was being claimed by a federally appointed court receiver in connection with the prosecution of Yagalla.

Monson, Tardio's friend and motorcycle-racing buddy, agreed to join him on the mission, though he had misgivings about the plan, detectives said.


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--Andrew Blankstein

Photo: Sandy Bentley, bottom (with twin Mandy), was Michael Tardio's girlfriend at the time of the slayings. Credit: Los Angeles Times

Comments () | Archives (14)

Well, a great lead-in, but then the article does nothing to illuminate any Wall St. connection (is that Yagala?), or in fact shed much light on anything. It's all tease. Go write for the NY Post.

When it is all said and done with our economy, we will all find out, labor is not paid too much, pensions are not the enemy, and unions are not the enemy. We have the same problem today as Jesus had during his time that is why two thieves were hung on the cross with him, it brought to light the problem of theft in the world at that time. He was trying to bring attention to the biggest and most exercised crime on the planet earth. THEFT IS RUINING ALL INDUSTRIES AND AGENCIES OF OUR GOVERNMENT. Theft in Medicare, pensions, businesses, government, religions, and every place else and workers are being blamed for this bad management and bad security. This all has to do with bad management. Come on educated guys, let us get our crap together and stop theft, graft and corruption and quit blaming wages of the working class people. People in position of trust are usually the people stealing, you know that.

Seems the reporter went on a coffee break because the story ends very abruptly and is missing many details. Great reporting by the Times.

I really should've become a detective. Much more interesting than my day job.

This sounds like a made for TV movie. The perfect plot at least. Two guys in a scandal that they know nothing about and end up in death's hands because of a Playboy model and Wall Street trader's scheme.

What does this have to do with a Wall Street ponzi scheme??

Aren't you tired of over-reaching? Trying to villify Wall Street again? What the %*&@ does this have to do with Wall Street?

Poorly written story. No facts, no details, and then the story ends adbruptly...

I want to read more, tell me tell me

talk about abrupt endings. whereTF is the rest of this article? a conclusion, anything even a "..." would have been better than the sentence which concludes this article.

...If you need editors, I need a good job.

greed and corruption in the United States!
It is funny how this story is written like a made for Television movie.
If this would have happened in a foreign country like Mexico the article would have had a definite different tone.
You gotta love the U.S. media!

This article states that the Wall Street ponzi scheme was done by Mark Yagalla, the "disgraced" trader who gave Sandy Bentley expensive jewelry bought with the money he made from the ponzi scheme. After Sandy Bentley broke up with Mark Yagalla, she dated Michael Tardio and at Sandy Bentley's request, Tardio tried to sell off the jewelry for cash. The court appointed receiver who is trying to gather all the ill gotten gains from the ponzi scheme in order to pay restitution to Mark Yagalla's victims also claimed ownership of the jewels since it was bought with the ill gotten money by Mark Yagalla. Michael Tardio enlisted his friend, Christopher Monson to help him sell the jewelry (Tardio most likely felt that having another person with him would give him greater safety while conducting the transaction of selling $700,000 worth of jewelry) and they both ended up shot and killed and burnt in a car. The mystery is who did the killing, whether it was simply for the jewels, or someone connected to the victims of the ponzi scheme who wanted revenge, or something else. Since the court appointed receiver also claimed ownership, Tardio couldn't just simply sell it to a pawn shop or on ebay I guess.

I'll bet that's not the only thing you'd find tied to Wall Street.

if they lock up those playboy bunnies, the guards will be happy and will give them "special attention."


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