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

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Feds say Emilio Fusco angled for mob boss Al Bruno's murder since 1990s

Jurors in an upcoming mob murder trial will hear details about Longmeadow loan shark Emilio Fusco's rise in the Springfield faction of New York's Genovese crime family, including his longstanding desire to kill rival Adolfo "Big Al" Bruno, according to prosecutors.
Emilio Fusco 91311.jpg 
Emilio Fusco
Jury selection in Fusco's case will begin in U.S. District Court in Manhattan on Monday, one year after three co-defendants were tried and convicted on parallel charges. Fusco earned a year-long reprieve after he fled to his native Italy, prosecutors contend, to escape the repercussions of an FBI investigation into the 2003 murders of Bruno, Fusco's then-crime boss, and police informant Gary D. Westerman.
Fusco is charged with racketeering conspiracy, extortion and other crimes. He has denied any involvement in the murders and has argued he traveled to Italy on routine family business, not to escape prosecution.
Bruno and Westerman were killed in what federal prosecutors have called an "epic spasm" of violence in Greater Springfield spearheaded by a group of upstart gangsters looking to usurp power from Bruno, a longtime fixture in organized crime in Western Massachusetts. Fusco is accused of winning permission from New York crime bosses to kill Bruno by producing a reference in a court document stating that Bruno had discussed Fusco's standing in the Genovese family with an FBI agent in 2002, then furnishing a hitman with the .45-caliber gun used to kill Bruno.
Government witness Anthony J. Arillotta, Bruno's young successor before turning informant in 2010, led the charge against Bruno and Westerman, who disappeared in 2003. Also Arillotta's brother-in-law, Westerman was regarded as a slippery thug who had secretly cozied up to police. Arillotta testified in the previous trial that he and Fusco were among four who had lured Westerman to a property in Agawam under the guise of a home invasion, then shot and bludgeoned him to death before burying him in a wooded lot behind the house.
Westerman's remains were not unearthed until 2010; Arillotta led investigators there after he was arrested in the Bruno case. His testimony was critical in the trial of Fusco's co-defendants: Fotios "Freddy" Geas, Ty Geas, both formerly of West Springfield, and Arthur "Artie" Nigro, the former New York crime boss who sanctioned the Bruno hit. The Geas brothers were once Arillotta's enforcers who bolstered Arillotta's bid for the top spot in Springfield's underworld, central to every violent plot Arillotta hatched. They and Nigro are serving life prison sentences.
Arillotta is expected to be among the earliest witnesses in Fusco's trial, federal prosecutors told U.S. District Judge P. Kevin Castel during a final pretrial hearing on Friday.
During the hearing, lawyers on both sides of the case wrangled over the breadth of evidence jurors will hear over what is expected to be a two-week trial. Fusco's defense lawyer, Richard B. Lind, attempted to restrict testimony about his client's alleged rise in Springfield's organized crime rackets.
According to prosecutors, Fusco was cherry-picked by late crime boss Albert "Baba" Scibelli to be his driver and protege when Fusco emigrated to Springfield from Italy in the early 1990s. Fusco, 43, served as Scibelli's driver in the early years and impressed Scibelli with his brashness and dislike for Bruno, said Assistant U.S. Attorney Daniel S. Goldman.
"Fusco said he wanted to kill Bruno in the mid- to late-1990s. Anthony Arillotta will testify that Baba Scibelli laughed about it but didn't take it seriously. (Scibelli) told him you didn't do that, Bruno was another made member, but it was one of the reasons Scibelli liked Fusco," and ultimately sponsored Fusco to be inducted into the crime family in 2001, Goldman said.
Fusco ultimately realized his goal to take Bruno out in 2003, according to prosecutors, while awaiting sentencing on loan-sharking and illegal gaming charges that year. It was revealed in a pre-sentence report that Bruno had confirmed to Springfield FBI agent Clifford W. Hedges that Fusco had been "made." The agent caught Bruno at a political fund-raiser in 2002 and "squeezed" him for information, according to court records, most of which have not been made public.
The political event and its beneficiary was not detailed in court. But, the interview was memorialized in a two-page FBI report and yielded a reference in Fusco's pre-sentence summary, which Fusco then delivered to New York gangsters as proof Bruno had committed the ultimate sin in organized crime circles: talking to law enforcement officials about the inner workings of the business.
Lind argued to Castel that the government had been cagey about producing Hedges as a witness to expand on the context and other details of the Bruno-Hedges conversation for jurors.
"I'd ask the court to direct the government to make this witness available," Lind said.
Goldman said he had informed Lind that the defense lawyer must submit an affidavit detailing why a government agent should be called to testify.
"He's basically trying to do an end-run around the regulations," Goldman said.
Fusco faces 20 years to life in prison if convicted of the murders. Goldman told Castel that the parties started tentative, informal plea talks over the winter, but when prosecutors told Lind they would require Fusco to admit to the murders, "it was a non-starter" for Fusco.



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