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

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Al Bruno murder case goes to jury, with Geas brothers, Artie Nigro facing life sentences

After three weeks of testimony in a Western Massachusetts mob murder case, jurors in a federal court in Manhattan began their deliberations just after 3 p.m. on Thursday.
Facing life sentences if they are convicted on charges of murder, racketeering and extortion are onetime organized crime enforcers Fotios "Freddy" Geas, of West Springfield, Mass., and brother Ty Geas, of Westfield, Mass., along with Arthur "Artie" Nigro, of Bronx, N.Y., reputed former acting boss of the New York-based Genovese crime family.
Jurors deliberated for about two hours before being dismissed. They will resume deliberations Friday at 10 a.m.
Over three weeks, witnesses – including four Mafia turncoats – offered testimony about violent shakedowns from Springfield, Mass., to New York, Connecticut and Florida, plus the grisly murder of Springfield drug dealer Gary D. Westerman in 2003 and the contract hit on Massachusetts mob capo Adolfo "Big Al" Bruno the same year.
Those murders, a third attempted murder of a Bronx union boss and unsuccessful murder plots against Springfield mob associates Guiseppe Manzi and Lou "the Shoe" Santos played out as "an epic spasm of violence" by a crew of young upstarts looking to wrest power from 57-year-old Bruno, according to federal prosecutors.
The violent tear by the Geases and Anthony J. Arillotta, of Springfield, who sought to succeed Bruno as regional boss, with an assortment of minions, was encouraged and endorsed by Nigro, who expected higher “tribute” payments in return, the prosecution says.
Arillotta was the prosecution’s star witness after “flipping” last year and joining forces with the government almost immediately after his arrest.
Over the course of several days on the witness stand, Arillotta dispassionately told jurors of beatings, murders and shake-downs of Western Massachusetts business owners in his pursuit of power, including threatening Springfield vending machine owner Carlo Sarno with “getting runned over 85 times with a car” if he didn’t fork over a chunk of his business.
In another instance, Arillotta testified that he began extorting strip club owner James Santaniello for payments of $12,000 a month, using Springfield attorney Daniel D. Kelly, a former city councilor, to tote the payments from Santaniello to him and the Geases for nearly two years.
That and other testimony about Kelly’s alleged interference with witnesses in criminal cases prompted the prosecutor, assistant U.S. attorney Elie Honig, to label Kelly a “corrupt” conduit for the mob during a closing statement to jurors on Wednesday.
Also providing graphic testimony during the trial was Bruno shooter Frankie A. Roche, who also turned government witness when faced with a federal death penalty in 2008. Roche told jurors he relished shooting Bruno six times on Nov. 23, 2003, at the behest of Arillotta and the Geases because Roche had coincidentally gotten into a beef with Bruno over a bar fight two weeks before.
When Geas defense lawyer Harvey Fishbein asked Roche on cross-examination whether his heart beat faster or his palms grew sweaty in a fit of nerves as he filled Bruno with bullets from a .45-caliber gun in a dark parking lot, Roche repeatedly answered: “Nope.”
Defense lawyers skewered Arillotta, Roche and other wiseguys-turned-witnesses during their closing statements to the jury, painting them as opportunists at best and as lying murderers trying to escape the same fate that threatens their clients: lives behind bars.
Frederick Cohn, a lawyer for Freddy Geas, observed that Arillotta would “sell out his own wife and children” and Roche was “reckless ... bordering on insanity.”
Jurors will consider whether Fotios Geas is guilty of racketeering, racketeering conspiracy, Bruno’s murder, Westerman’s murder, the attempted murder of union official Frank Dadabo, the plots against Manzi and Santos, extortion, extortion conspiracy and interstate travel in aid of racketeering.
Ty Geas faces the same counts but for interstate travel in aid of racketeering.
Nigro faces charges of racketeering, racketeering conspiracy, Bruno’s murder, the attempted murder of Dadabo, the plot against Santos, loan-sharking, extortion conspiracy and interstate travel in aid of racketeering.


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