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

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Genovese turncoat Anthony Arillotta continues testimony

Defense lawyers on Monday began trying to chip away at the credibility of former Springfield mob captain Anthony J. Arillotta, the prosecution’s star witness in an ongoing Mafia murder trial in federal court.
Arillotta, 42, of Springfield, testified over nearly three days of a multi-year tear he and his supporters went on before and after the year he was formally inducted into the New York-based Genovese crime family.
The rampage included the 2003 murders of one-time Springfield Genovese boss Adolfo “Big Al” Bruno and Gary D. Westerman, a rival drug dealer and Arillotta’s brother-in-law.
Standing trial are Arillotta’s former “muscle,” Fotios “Freddy” Geas, 44, of West Springfield, and his brother Ty Geas, 39, of Westfield, along with reputed onetime Genovese acting boss, Arthur “Artie” Nigro, of Bronx, N.Y.
Arillotta has testified that he and the Geases carried out murders, attempted murders, brazen shake-downs of strip clubs owners from Springfield to Manhattan and extortions of “Joker Poker” machine owners, because, Arillotta reasoned, the lucrative illegal machines “belonged to the streets.”
He has testified Nigro not only gave his blessing for the murders, but encouraged Arillotta to carry out more aggressive crimes in order to “kick more upstairs,” mob jargon for passing on illegal profits to higher-ups.
Arillotta offered his direct testimony about startling violence unwaveringly and attempted to bring the same bland delivery to cross-examination by Nigro’s lawyer, Lawrence Hochheiser.
“Do you maintain the same lack of emotion when you hit a dying man in the head with a shovel?” Hochheiser asked mildly, referring to the grisly fashion in which Arillotta said he, the Geases, and fellow gangster Emilio Fusco shot and buried Westerman in a makeshift grave in Agawam.
“I dunno. You’re doing the act and it just happens,” he responded.
Over three hours of cross-examination on Monday, Arillotta also admitted he squirreled away about $80,000 in illegal cash in a plastic bag in his basement after he was arrested in this case in March of 2010. He turned government witness almost immediately after his arrest, he said, despite “viciously abusing” and murdering others he suspected in the past of cooperating with law enforcement.
He hid it from his now estranged wife, who was forced to apply for food stamps to support their three children, according to Arillotta. Instead, he paid his Boston defense lawyer $20,000 (he still owes $30,000) and estimated he spent another $30,000 on pricey jailhouse phone time.
Arillotta testified that the government never made any attempt to retrieve the money, and his mother and teen son secreted the money out of the basement after his arrest.
Hochheiser also spent a significant amount of time trying to bait Arillotta into admitting he boasted to family members and his girlfriend that he would be out of prison in no time after cutting a deal with the government. Hochheiser led him into admitting he had discussed plans to marry his girlfriend, an exotic dancer in Springfield.
“The plan to get married is not a plan to get married while you’re in jail, right? You’d like to move to Arizona ... start a business ... have a white picket fence and a cocker spaniel?” the lawyer asked.
“I’m hoping to go home immediately, not that it’s realistic,” Arillotta responded.
He said he signed a cooperation agreement with the government in the hopes of testifying in exchange to shave as much time as he can off his prison sentence, which could theoretically amount to life.
Prosecutors make no promises about sentencing before it is decided by a judge. But lawyers involved in the case have said the best deals in the country for cooperating witnesses come from the southern district of New York.
Arillotta has not yet been scheduled for sentencing. The Geases and Nigro face mandatory life in prison if convicted.
Cross-examination of Arillotta is expected to continue through Wednesday, including by the Geases’ defense teams.



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