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My Roommate, The Diamond Thief

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What, then, might Troy have in mind for me? After all, he was still at large. Could Dino have given him my personal information? Could Troy be living as Brian Boucher at this very moment? I was so scared I called 911, convinced that he was on his way to find me. The cops looked around the apartment, twirling their batons as I tried to explain. “If you see the brother, call the police,” they said, and left.

I had better luck with the San Francisco police the following day. “We’ve really been hoping for a phone call like this,” said Dan Gardner, a robbery inspector for the SFPD. One evening just before the Republican National Convention, four men arrived at my apartment: the towering Gardner and his partner, along with two New York detectives. “So where’d ya find da jewels?” one of them cracked.

They donned rubber gloves and went to work, tearing outlets and switch plates from the wall, fondling the futon. One mentioned a Manhattan Mini Storage locker of Dino’s containing power tools and a concrete saw. I asked if they thought I’d hear from Dino again. “Look,” Gardner told me, “I don’t want to scare you, but they did catch him trying to escape from Rikers Island once already while he’s been in custody.”

In May 2005, I received a call from Jerry Coleman, a San Francisco assistant district attorney who asked me to come testify in the trial. Weeks later, I sat by myself in a San Francisco courtroom. The sole observer was a woman I’d seen in pictures from Dino’s computer, and it struck me that she and Dino had the same features. She had to be his mother.

A door opened and in walked Dino, looking sharp in tan pants and a black polo. No orange jumpsuit, no cuffs. The room fell silent. I hadn’t seen him in almost a year, and I couldn’t take my eyes off him. He sat and arranged his files, then turned to me and nodded hello with a nervous look of forced ease. “Hey, roomie. How funny seeing you here,” he seemed to say.

As they swore me in, I was afraid the microphone on the witness stand would pick up the sound of my heart pounding.

“Sir, in the events you’ve described, would you say you were acting as an agent of the police?” Dino’s lawyer asked.

Huh? I leaned into the microphone. “No, sir.” Maybe this wouldn’t be so hard.

Dino frequently shook his head, seemingly disgusted at the state’s flimsy case against him, and furiously took notes as I enumerated the identifying information he had collected on me.

The defense attorney tried to undermine the legitimacy of the computer evidence, on the basis that I’d left it with a friend to work on overnight. “So you don’t know what your friend did, by your own personal knowledge?”

“I guess that’s true.”

“No further questions, your honor.”

On June 3, 2005, based in part on evidence found on the computer he left behind, the jury convicted Dino Loren Smith, 55, on eight of eleven counts of robbery, false imprisonment, burglary, and conspiracy. On November 10, he was sentenced to 23 years in prison. He is now under processing at San Quentin, while authorities decide where to send him.

I still haven’t figured out who ransacked Dino’s room that time. Was it a would-be accomplice who’d been cut out of the jewelry-store job? Somebody who’d heard Dino bragging in the street? Was it Dino himself, trying to see how I’d react? Who knows? Nothing was what it seemed with my ex-roommate—the dead sister in Seattle never existed; the one he brought to the apartment was actually his wife.

An even bigger mystery concerns Troy, who’s still on the lam despite the FBI’s $50,000 reward. Every so often, I see a guy in the street who resembles his mug shot and I’m spooked into thinking it’s him. I tell myself I’m just being crazy, but then I’ve said that before.

I’ve since moved out of the place where I lived with Dino, into an upper-Manhattan apartment that I share with a financial planner, a dance teacher, and their 5-year-old son. I found them on Craigslist.


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