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Marty Tankleff's unlikely friendship with James Gandolfini

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NEW YORK (MYFOXNY) -

The sudden death of actor James Gandolfini has been heart breaking news for family, friends and fans of The Sorpanos star the world over.

One unlikely friend who is mourning Gandolfini's death is Marty Tankleff, the man cleared in the murder of his parents after spending 17 years in prison.

"James came to visit me on my birthday when I was in prison and from that day he never turned his back on me," said Tankleff.

Tankleff, who has been out of prison for six years, hired a private investigator while he was locked up.  The P.I . was also hired to work on a movie with Gandolfini. When the NJ native learned of Tankleff's case, he was determined to meet him.

"He came with his driver. He actually drove four hours; his driver was sleeping. It was a complete shock. We hit it off right away. It was a unique relationship. He was a great person," said Tankleff.

The law school student, husband and step-father, is working at a law firm specializing in wrongful conviction cases.

Gandolfini, 51, died Wednesday while vacationing in Rome. Autopsy reports confirm he died of cardiac arrest.

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