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Suspect's dog is cooling its paws

With its owner -- a Long Beach man accused of stealing two valuable violins -- in a Paris jail, Jumper is in an Amsterdam shelter.

March 15, 2007|J. Michael Kennedy | Times Staff Writer

Jumper the dog is alive and well and currently residing in Amsterdam.

That would qualify as the good news about the Shiba Inu, whose master is now cooling his heels in a Paris jail, wanted by the FBI and Los Angeles police in the theft of two valuable violins. The other piece of bad news is that Jumper may be in Amsterdam for a while because of the knotty issue of a large, unpaid hotel bill.

To recap the ongoing saga: Last week, a fairly well-known -- at least to police -- small-time crook named Anthony Eugene Notarstefano was arrested in Paris as he allegedly made the rounds of music shops trying to sell two violins, together worth about $300,000 and stolen last December from the home of a Los Angeles Philharmonic musician.

In the course of the investigation, detectives learned that Notarstefano, 42, of Long Beach, had flown to Amsterdam from Los Angeles accompanied by his dog, Jumper. As police recount the story, Notarstefano left Jumper in the Amsterdam hotel when he took a train to Paris.

Presumably, Notarstefano would have returned to Amsterdam, collected his dog and checked out of his hotel were it not for the fact that he was arrested. And therein lies the story of Jumper, who was locked in a hotel room with no arrangements made for either walking or feeding him.

Enter Wim Schrumph, the jovial manager of the 47-room Europa 92 Hotel, where Notarstefano was staying in Amsterdam. An avowed dog lover, Schrumph said the staff knew Jumper was in the room and took measures to take care of him when Notarstefano failed to turn up after being gone overnight. A short time later, police told Schrumph of Notarstefano's arrest.

Schrumph said he personally took charge of walking the dog before turning him over to an animal shelter in Amsterdam several days ago for safekeeping.

"It was a big surprise," said Schrumph of the Shiba Inu, a medium-sized, agile breed originally used in Japan for hunting. "We knew the dog was in the room and we took care of him because [Notarstefano] did not come back that night and the next morning."

The next player in this canine melodrama is Notarstefano's estranged wife, Eva-Marie, who works as a dispatcher for a Long Beach plumbing company.

She said she and Notarstefano have been separated since November, but that did not diminish her fondness for the 3-year-old dog.

"Jumper is the best dog in the world," she said. "Anyone who meets that dog just loves him."

She said that as far as she knew, her husband was planning on being in Europe for only two weeks, though the number of bags he brought made police believe he was planning on a much longer stay.

"I had no idea what he had going on," Eva-Marie Notarstefano said. "I was like, flabbergasted" about the arrest.

She said her first thought was of Jumper, and she spent time e-mailing Schrumph once she found out where the dog had been left.

Schrumph is more than willing to ship Jumper back to the United States, but first there is the matter of the $1,400 hotel bill that Notarstefano ran up.

That has to be paid, Schrumph said, before anything happens.

"I don't know the rules in the states," Schrumph said. "In the Netherlands, I can keep things behind me if the bill is not paid."

That would include the dog and five very large suitcases Notarstefano brought with him.

Eva-Marie Notarstefano said she doesn't have the money.

"He was very kind and very helpful," she said of Schrumph. "But when I told him I couldn't pay the bill, everything kind of got short."

Meanwhile, FBI agent Chris Calarco, an investigator in the case, filed an affidavit in which he said the arrested man's girlfriend described Notarstefano as paranoid about the violins and said he had told her he was going to Europe to sell them.

Calarco said another witness told him Notarstefano was planning to sell the violins outside of the United States so they couldn't be traced.

The man also said Notarstefano knew the violins were stolen, according to the affidavit.

"It's quite possible he stumbled on something like that," Eva-Marie Notarstefano said.

"He does have an extensive troubled past," she said. "He wanted to keep ripping and running."

michael.kennedy@latimes.com

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