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Grand Jury Indictment Singles Out Mechanic In Death Of Tennis Star

A mechanic for a pool heating company has been charged in connection with the death of tennis star Vitas Gerulaitis from carbon monoxide poisoning, a lawyer in the case said Monday.

Bart Torpey, a mechanic for Recreational Concepts of Sag Harbor, and the company, were indicted by a Suffolk County grand jury on a charge of criminally negligent homicide stemming from Gerulaitis’ death, according to Torpey’s lawyer, John O’Brien.

“My client has been made a scapegoat in a very tragic death,” O’Brien said. “I am sure my client will be vindicated.”

Torpey, 35, will plead innocent to the charge at his arraignment today. Suffolk district attorney James Catterson declined to confirm or deny the indictment.

Gerulaitis, 40, was found dead Sept. 18 in a guest cottage on the oceanfront estate of his friend Martin Raynes.

Gerulaitis had gone to the cottage for a nap on Sept. 17 after participating in a charity tennis clinic in Southampton. He was found dead the next day by a housekeeper.

The Suffolk medical examiner attributed the cause of death to carbon monoxide poisoning. Investigators said a malfunction in the heating system for the pool was the source of the lethal gas that circulated into the bedroom where Gerulaitis slept.

The heating unit was installed by Torpey in April underneath the guest cottage. Just prior to the fatal incident, Torpey and a manufacturer’s representative had serviced the unit.

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