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Ex-Wife, Psychic Held in Killing of Gucci Heir

<i> From Times Wire Services</i>

The investigation into the gangland-style killing of fashion heir Maurizio Gucci took a dramatic twist Friday when police arrested the businessman’s ex-wife on suspicion of ordering the shooting nearly two years ago.

A police official said Patrizia Reggiani Martinelli, 49, known for publicly complaining about how much alimony Gucci had been paying her, was arrested in a Central Milan apartment Friday morning. Also arrested were a high-society psychic, a hotel doorman and two alleged hit men, said Ottavio Aragona, a deputy police commander in Milan. All were charged with murder.

Police said the arrests in the March 1995 slaying came after the doorman, Ivano Savioni, 40, admitted his role in the killing.

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Gucci was the grandson of Guccio Gucci, who founded the company in Florence in 1906. Family infighting ultimately drove all the Guccis out of the company, famed for shoes, wallets, handbags and other status leather goods.

On March 27, 1995, Maurizio Gucci, 45, was gunned down as he walked into his Milan office building.

Under questioning Friday, Savioni told police that he was asked by the psychic, Giuseppina Auriemma--a longtime friend--to hire the killers on behalf of Martinelli, Aragona said.

Martinelli married Gucci in 1972, and the couple separated 12 years later. Their daughters, Alessandra and Allegra, are 21 and 16.

The amount of their divorce settlement was never revealed, but in a TV appearance several years before the murder, Martinelli said it left “my children without a future.”

Martinelli and Auriemma, 51, were good friends, and the psychic at one point had a Gucci franchise store, news reports said. Aragona said Auriemma “enjoyed the trust and confidence” of Martinelli.

Using her “spiritual advisor” as a go-between, Martinelli allegedly paid more than $300,000 to hire hit men Orazio Cicala, 58, and Benedetto Ceraulo, 35, according to judicial sources quoted in Italian media.

Cicala is in jail on unrelated drug charges, and Ceraulo has a previous criminal record.


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