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

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Emilio Fusco teed up for trial in Al Bruno murder case

Lawyers for Emilio Fusco – a convicted loan shark from Longmeadow soon to stand trial in federal court in Manhattan for two organized-crime murders – have long denied his ties to the Mafia.
Prosecutors contend, though, that Fusco was recruited in the early 1990s for the Western Massachusetts faction of the Genovese crime family by onetime capo Albert “Baba” Scibelli, who died in February from Alzheimer’s disease at the age of 91. Fusco began building his stock in the rackets here as a driver for Scibelli, according to recent filings U.S. District Court in New York City, where faces trial beginning next week.
Fusco is accused of a litany of organized-crime conspiracies, including the 2003 murders of regional mob boss Adolfo “Big Al” Bruno and low-level associate Gary D. Westerman, narcotics trafficking and extorting bar and business owners. He has denied any involvement in the plots, much of which was documented in last year’s trial of three other defendants in the same court.
The prosecution contends Fusco fled to his native Sorrento, Italy, in the spring of 2010, days after law enforcement officials began digging for Westerman’s remains in a wooded lot in Agawam on the advice of newly-minted informant Anthony J. Arillotta. Fusco was arrested in August of that year in the small Italian village where, his lawyers have argued, he had traveled on family business, not to avoid prosecution.

Fusco could face 20 years to life in prison if convicted on racketeering and racketeering conspiracy charges that include the murder allegations. He is accused of lobbying mobsters in New York and Springfield to kill Bruno, and also charged with helping to shoot and bludgeon Westerman to death.
Heading to trial, federal prosecutors have filed motions to introduce a web of evidence against Fusco that details his beginnings in the “Springfield crew” of New York’s Genovese crime family.
“Fusco was ‘made’ into the Genovese Crime Family in approximately the late 1990s in Springfield. Albert Scibelli sponsored Fusco for membership and the ceremony was attended by Scibelli, Felix Tranghese, Anthony Delevo, a member of the Genovese Crime Family who replaced Albert Scibelli as capo and head of the Genovese operations in Springfield, and Anthony Torino, another Genovese soldier based in Springfield,” one motion reads.
The history of organized crime in Greater Springfield has become dense with death and betrayal over the past decade. While Torino died in 2000 and Delevo died in prison in 2005, Tranghese and Arillotta turned government witness over the course of the Bruno prosecution. Mob watchdogs here and in New York contend the organized-crime structure in this region has essentially crumbled as a result.
Tranghese and Arillotta were two of the government’s star witnesses against brothers Fotios “Freddy” and Ty Geas, two of Arillotta’s onetime enforcers from West Springfield, and the former acting boss of the Genovese family, Arthur “Artie” Nigro, all of whom were tried and convicted in March 2011 for the same murders. The three men are serving life prison terms.
Tranghese and Arillotta are expected to deliver similar, damning testimony against Fusco during his trial to outline the tensions that grew among Fusco, Bruno and Westerman over several years.
“Fusco himself organized two sit-downs so that the Scibellis could decide ‘beefs’ between Bruno and Fusco. However, after Fusco ascended to power in 2001, Fusco fell into line with Bruno and received proceeds from various extortions even while he was under indictment (in a federal racketeering case brought in Springfield in 2000),” a government motion reads.
The extortions were leveled at Springfield strip-club owner James Santaniello, who is expected to testify in the case, as well as other downtown bars and pizza shops and an Italian food vendor at the Eastern States Exposition, according to prosecutors. Fusco also allegedly squeezed business owners for “Dumpster accounts,” after launching a trash-removal business when he was released from prison in 2006.
Fusco’s lawyer, Richard B. Linds, did not respond to requests for comment.
In 2000, Quincy lawyer George McMahon represented Fusco in a loan-sharking and illegal gambling case in which Fusco ultimately pleaded guilty and received a 33-month prison sentence. It was also a case that yielded what seemed to be the last nail in Bruno’s coffin. Bruno was a powerful, colorful gangster who was killed in a power play spearheaded by Arillotta and fueled by Fusco when he produced documentation that Bruno had in early 2002 complained to a FBI agent Clifford W. Hedges about him at Red Rose Pizzeria.
The meeting was memorialized in Fusco’s sentencing report on the loan sharking case, some believe recklessly and with no thought of protecting Bruno, who has never been identified as an informant for the government in court records or public proceedings.
“It’s not like the old days, Cliff. (Baba Scibelli) should not have done this while I was away,” an excerpt of the conversation reads. “Fusco is a hothead, and I hear some bad tapes have been made of him talking a lot of s***. He is too young and needs to learn how to respect people.”
During the Geases’ trial, Arillotta and Tranghese testified that Fusco became incensed at the reference in his paperwork and marketed it as proof to gangsters here and in New York that Bruno deserved to be taken out. Court records provide no context as to why or how the Hedges-Bruno conversation took place.
Fusco’s lawyer in the 2000 loan-sharking case vehemently denied his client had ties to the Mafia, scoffing at the very idea that the organization was alive and well in Massachusetts and dismissing Fusco’s role as a loan shark.
“We have to beat him up. So, find out where he goes, guy,” Fusco said, according to a transcript of wire-tapped recordings between Fusco and a collector in 1998.
McMahon wrote it off to a federal magistrate judge as “colorful expressions,” and the debate between defense and prosecutors ensued about Fusco’s standing in the Mafia.
Court filings by prosecutors in the pending case state that Fusco boosted his position in the regional mob by getting chummy with Ernest Muscarella, a street boss in New York and member of the family’s so-called ruling panel in the city. Muscarella allegedly put the word out to Nigro that Fusco was dissatisfied with the $2,500 per week which Fusco’s wife was receiving from Springfield gangsters to stay afloat while Fusco was in prison.
The trial is expected to last around two weeks. A final pretrial hearing is scheduled for April 13 and jury selection is set to begin April 16.
Fusco is being held in the Metropolitan Correctional Center just across from the courthouse in southern Manhattan.



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