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

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Admitted hit man Frankie Roche takes witness stand in Al Bruno murder trial

Frankie Roche, the admitted hit man in the 2003 murder of mob boss Adolfo "Big Al" Bruno in Springfield, Mass., began testifying late Wednesday on an ongoing trial in federal court - telling jurors that fresh out of prison, he slipped into a crew with murderous intentions.
Standing trial are Roche's onetime friends and alleged co-conspirators in the Bruno murder, Fotios "Freddy" Geas, of West Springfield, Mass., and brother Ty Geas, of Westfield, Mass., along with the reputed former acting boss of the New York-based Genovese crime family, Arthur "Artie" Nigro, of Bronx, N.Y.
The gem of the prosecution's case, Anthony J. Arillotta, of Springfield, a "made man" in the Genovese family, concluded days of testimony for the government earlier on Wednesday. Arillotta, who turned informant within a week of his arrest in the case in February of 2010, told the panel he sought Nigro's permission for the hit amid a power play and because he and other gangsters suspected Bruno, the then-regional boss, was feeding information to law enforcement.
After several failed attempts to kill Bruno, Arillotta said Freddy Geas, who befriended Roche in 2000 while the two were in a Massachusetts state prison, recruited his "crash dummy" jail buddy to do the job.
Roche, 38, formerly of Westfield, is now in the federal Witness Protection Program since pleading guilty to Bruno's murder in U.S. District Court in Springfield in 2008. He appeared in public to testify Wednesday for the first time since his guilty plea that year, dressed in prison khakis and escorted by U.S. Marshals.
Roche did not testify long enough to begin recounting the night he shot Bruno six times in a dark parking lot on Nov. 23, 2003, but did tell jurors about a lifetime of arrests dating back to when he was 12 and continuing with adult incarcerations until he met Freddy Geas while doing a six-year bid for robbing a liquor store because it was closed and he wanted a drink.
"Did you have conversations about your future together while you were in jail?" Assistant U.S. Attorney Daniel S. Goldman asked Roche on direct examination.
"We talked mainly about scores ... robberies," Roche responded.
In the spring of 2003, Roche said he reconnected with Geas, became friendly with his younger brother and fell into a life of drinking, bar-hopping and mulling potential "scores" with the brothers, which turned to mulling potential murders as the months wore on.
Two of his crew's intended targets were bookmaker Louis "Lou the Shoe" Santos, of Longmeadow, whom Roche was told was a police informant, and Guiseppe Manzi, a restaurant owner and marijuana dealer from East Longmeadow with whom the Geases had a protracted feud.
Roche and Ty Geas staked out Santos' physical therapy office on Main Street in Springfield and plotted to kill him in the parking lot as he went to his car, according to Roche. That never happened, because the crew became consumed with planning to kill Manzi, whom they considered a more aggressive thorn in their sides.
"He's a headache, he's gotta go. We've had enough of him. We gotta kill him," Roche said of the Geases' attitude toward Manzi. "(Freddy) asked if I would kill him ... I said yes."
Roche testified that he was offered $10,000 apiece to participate in both murders, but neither happened.
Arillotta told jurors previously that was because the so-called Springfield Crew then became fixated on Bruno.
Roche will continue his testimony on Thursday in U.S. District Court in lower Manhattan. He told jurors he hopes to avoid a life sentence by testifying for the government, as did Arillotta and scheduled witness Felix Tranghese, another East Longmeadow gangster who participated in the Bruno murder and is slated to testify in this trial following Roche.



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