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

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Former crime boss Anthony J. Arillotta details rise in Genovese family during trial for 3 defendents in Adolfo Bruno's murder

Imprisoned former Springfield organized crime boss Anthony J. Arillotta began absorbing the underworld at a young age.

According to testimony in an ongoing mob murder trial in federal court in Manhattan, Arillotta was surrounded by mobsters at his father’s Springfield fruit and vegetable business as a boy. While his uncle was a driver for a local boss, he eased into a life of crime as a young man.

Standing trial for the 2003 murder of Arillotta’s predecessor, Adolfo “Big Al” Bruno, and a laundry list of other crimes, are Arillotta’s onetime enforcers and closest friends, Fotios “Freddy” Geas, of West Springfield, his brother Ty Geas, 39, of Westfield, and reputed former acting boss of the New York-based Genovese crime family, Arthur “Artie” Nigro, of Bronx, N.Y.

In an earlier plea agreement, Arillotta has admitted his role in Bruno’s murder as did the man who pulled the trigger, Frankie Roche, of Westfield.

According to investigators and Arillotta’s own testimony, which began Wednesday afternoon just before 3 p.m. in U.S. District Court, the street-savvy, violent Geases helped him ascend to a position of power in the local rackets in 2003, while Nigro gave the go-ahead for Arillotta to take Bruno out of the mob hierarchy.

Referring to John Bologna, a New York emissary for Nigro who traveled to Springfield every weekend for nearly two years, Arillotta testified that the Geases once dazzled the out-of-towner by beating several people to a pulp outside a downtown Springfield bar in 2002.

“He seen Freddy and Ty fighting and beating kids. He actually seen it with his eyes and he liked it. He said: ‘Keep them close,’” Arillotta told jurors under direct questioning by Assistant U.S. Attorney Mark D. Lanpher, who methodically led Arillotta through his ascension through the ranks of the Genovese hierarchy.

In addition to being charged with the 2003 murder-for-hire of Bruno, the Geases are charged with the gruesome shooting and burial of drug dealer Gary D. Westerman (also Arillotta’s brother-in-law) who was killed the same year and dumped in an eight-foot grave in a wooded lot in Agawam. The trio also faces charges of racketeering, extortion and attempted murder.

Arillotta, who also has admitted his role in Westerman’s murder, will surely be the gem of the prosecution’s case, considering he was at the heart of nearly every crime charged in the indictment and will offer a rare, candid glimpse at being a “made guy” in one of New York’s most feared of five crime families.

The 42-year-old Springfield man calmly took the stand in drab khakis and was careful not to look at Nigro or the Geas brothers after he was forced to point them out for the jury. After telling the jury about his current living arrangements – “prison” – he recounted the tides of the organized crime landscape in Springfield since the late 1980s. Bosses came and went. Gaming, loan-sharking and drug-dealing were status quo. He survived a two-year falling out with Bruno after a drug arrest, which angered Bruno since drugs were taboo among Italian mobsters.

He revived his image with Bruno, his former mentor, in the late 1990s, when drug charges were dismissed and he was summonsed to the basement of Bruno’s former restaurant, Cara Mia, for a meeting.

“He was just coming home from jail himself. He wanted to know if I was done dealing in drugs and I said I was. He asked if I wanted to be with him, to be ‘on record’ with him as part of his crew. I said I did,” Arillotta said, although he admitted he just “tightened up” the drug-dealing aspect of his annual revenues afterward.

Arillotta soon became Bruno’s go-to person to bring pricey booze and homemade wine to higher-ups in New York at Christmastime, traveled with him, and ultimately became an usher of sorts to squire New Yorkers around Springfield. This ultimately led to Bruno’s demise, it seems.

Out-of-towners thought Bruno wasn’t “kicking enough (revenue) upstairs” although he had his hand in everything, Arillotta testified.

“You should reach out to these guys (in New York) more because when you’re in trouble, you’re going to need them,” Arillotta recounted, referring to advice passed on to Bruno by other New Yorkers.

Bruno was shot six times by Roche, a paid gunman, on the eve of his 58th birthday outside the Italian-American club he frequented in Springfield’s South End.



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