Updated news on the Gambino, Genovese, Bonanno, Lucchese and Colombo Organized Crime Families of New York City.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Lawyers Try And Move Bruno Hit Case To New York

Lawyers for Fotios “Freddy” Geas, who is set to be tried here next month for the 2003 Mafia hit of Adolfo “Big Al” Bruno, are asking a federal judge to move the case to New York.
The request comes in the wake of last week’s indictment of two of Geas’ alleged co-conspirators in a federal court in Manhattan.
The defense motion on behalf of Geas also suggests prosecutors believe a then-swelling mob faction in Springfield may have been responsible for a series of unsolved crimes, including the disappearance of a convicted drug dealer that occurred the same year Bruno was killed.
Geas was indicted in 2008 in connection with the contract killing of Bruno. The regional leader of the New York-based Genovese crime family was gunned down in a parking lot after his regular Sunday night card game on Nov. 23, 2003. Admitted killer Frankie A. Roche claims Geas, the reputed “muscle” for a rival faction, recruited him for the shooting and attached a $10,000 bounty.
Jury selection in the Geas case is scheduled to begin in U.S. District Court in Springfield on March 22. Two other men – including reputed Bruno successor Anthony J. Arillotta – were charged with the same crime in U.S. District Court in Manhattan on Feb. 16.
Geas was curiously absent from the New York indictment, which charged Arillotta, of Springfield, and former acting Genovese boss, Arthur “Artie” Nigro, 65, with Bruno’s murder and other crimes. Four other New York organized crime figures also were accused in the charges of unrelated gambling and extortion conspiracies.
Investigators have long suggested the conspiracy to eliminate Bruno stretched from here to New York City. But, law enforcement officials have refused to explain why the prosecution would be split between two jurisdictions.
Defense attorneys recently argued that dividing the case was not a matter of legal strategy but territorialism by federal law enforcement officials.
“Indeed, it appears that the only reason that (the cases have not been consolidated) is jurisdictional squabbling within the Department of Justice,” states a motion filed Monday by Geas’ lawyers, David P. Hoose and Peter L. Ettenberg.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Paul H. Smyth, who leads the Geas prosecution in Springfield, did not respond to a call for comment.
The late-coming satellite charges in New York add yet another layer to an already convoluted prosecution.
Roche, 36, told investigators he fled Western Massachusetts after shooting Bruno six times outside the Mount Carmel Society club in the city’s South End. He was captured in Florida months later by the FBI. An agent accidentally shot him in the back during his arrest – prompting a $150,000 legal settlement for Roche – who was charged with murder in Hampden Superior Court in 2005. He was days from being tried in that venue in 2007 when he turned government informant.
Roche implicated Geas, 42, who was then charged in state court along with Brandon D. Croteau, 30. Croteau helped him plan the murder and sweep him out of town, Roche said.
Roche later admitted to murder in federal court under a deal with prosecutors that allowed him to duck a potential death penalty and perhaps a life sentence. He is in an undisclosed prison under the federal Witness Security Program.
Geas was subsequently charged in federal court while Croteau dangles in state court. The federal case lumbered along until U.S. attorneys recently sought delays in the trial and the lead prosecutor was bounced under mysterious circumstances.
Smyth has insisted the Geas trial will go off as planned despite the New York indictment. But, defense lawyers argue the government should not get multiple bites at the apple.
“It’s bad enough he’s already charged with murder in state and federal court,” Hoose said. “It’s unfair to take a third opportunity.”
Their motion contends that Geas could conceivably be acquitted for murder in aid of racketeering in Springfield, and then charged in the New York indictment under separate federal statutes.
In comparison, Geas’ lawyers offer the case of John “Junior” Gotti, son of the late “Dapper Don” Gambino family crime boss.
The younger Gotti was charged and tried multiple times in New York for an array of federal offenses. That case yielded four hung juries in as many years before prosecutors said they would not be inclined to seek a fifth trial. Gotti, who earned the nickname “Deadlock Don,” was indicted the fourth time with murder conspiracy and other crimes in Florida on peripheral grounds, but a judge sent the case back to New York.
Beyond objecting to the division in the Bruno murder case, the defense motion for Geas suggests there was a seismic shift in the Springfield prosecution when the government on Feb. 3 told the defense it would attempt to bolster its case by telling jurors of a litany of additional offenses.
Court filings state prosecutors intend to present evidence that Geas, his younger brother, Ty Geas, and Arillotta were involved in a series of increasingly violent capers designed to boost street credibility and revenue, and erase competition.
According to the motion, they included:
• In 2002 and 2003, Arillotta and New York mobster John Bologna, now believed to be among the government’s top witnesses, extorted money from the Mardi Gras strip club in Springfield;
• In 2003, Fotios Geas allegedly offered Roche $10,000 to kill rival gangster Giuseppe Manzi, and later fired shots into a downtown bar at members of Manzi’s crew;
• In October of 2003, Fotios and Ty Geas allegedly paid Roche $1,000 to beat a man “who needed to be taught a lesson;”
• In the fall of 2003, Fotios Geas allegedly offered Roche another $10,000 to kill bookmaker Louis Santos and obtained a stolen car to use in the endeavor;
• In November of 2003 the Geases and Arillotta killed Gary D. Westerman, an ex-convict and close associate who went missing that month; no arrests have been made in that case; and
• The Geases allegedly beat another member of the Genovese crime family. (The court filings do not identify the target or timing of this allegation.)
U.S. District Judge Michael A. Ponsor, who presides over the Springfield case, may not let any of that evidence reach a jury – primarily because none of those allegations has produced criminal charges.
Lawyers are scheduled to argue over the transfer issue during a pretrial hearing on Wednesday.



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