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

Monday, April 16, 2012

Jurors seated in Emilio Fusco mob murder trial in Manhattan

They include a fashion house assistant, an accountant, a reporter, a genetics scientist and a hotel lounge employee.
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Those were among 16 anonymous jurors empaneled Monday for the trial of Emilio Fusco, a Longmeadow man accused in a racketeering conspiracy that spanned a decade and included the murder of onetime Greater Springfield Mafia boss Adolfo “Big Al” Bruno, plus a string of extortions and drug deals, according to federal prosecutors.
Although jurors were subjected to an entire day of vetting about their philosophical leanings, views on law enforcement, potential connections to organized crime and even their favorite television shows, they were prevented from providing their names, addresses and specific places of employment. U.S. District Judge P. Kevin Castel had previously granted a prosecution request to seat an anonymous jury – fairly routine in this city for organized crime cases in federal court.

Fusco, 43, is charged with five criminal counts in connection with the violent maneuverings of a young, upstart faction of mobsters intent on wresting power from Bruno, the Greater Springfield head of the New York-based Genovese crime family around the time he was shot dead on Nov. 23, 2003.

Prosecutors say Fusco lobbied New York gangsters for permission to kill Bruno after Fusco discovered Bruno had outed Fusco as a “made man” in the Genovese crime family to an FBI agent in 2002. Investigators also contend Fusco helped kill police informant Gary D. Westerman just weeks before Bruno’s murder.

Fusco will stand trial one year after three co-defendants were tried on nearly identical charges in the same courtroom. Fotios “Freddy” Geas and his brother Ty Geas, former mob enforcers from West Springfield, and onetime Genovese acting boss, Arthur “Artie” Nigro, of Bronx, NY, were tried and convicted last year and are serving life sentences in federal prison.

Fusco’s trial was held up because he was in his native Italy when the charges came down in 2010. Prosecutors say he fled to Sorrento, a small village in southern Italy, to avoid the repercussions of the investigation while his lawyers have argued he was there to attend to family business and was delayed in returning by an Icelandic volcano eruption that year and other factors.

Fusco was captured in Italy last year by authorities dressed as a garbagemen and utility worker, Italian police said. With dual citizenship, he fought extradition but was returned to the United States to stand trial.

He has denied any involvement in the murders, in addition to allegations he shook down Springfield bar owners and other businesses and made money off marijuana and cocaine deals before and after a 2003 conviction for loan-sharking and illegal gaming. The entire case has shone a spotlight on the ebb and flow of power in Springfield’s rackets since 2001.

Jurors were culled down from 70 candidates to 11 women and five men, including four alternates. They began getting weeded out for undue hardships, primarily related to work and health constraints, and were further reduced by their responses to a battery of questions. The final cut focused on profession, home ownership, family life, military and previous jury service, where they routinely get news on current events and favorite television shows.

Several jurors informed Castel they were followers of “Downton Abbey,” “Law and Order” and “Modern Family.” One woman told lawyers she is a huge fan of the former HBO New Jersey Mafia-focused series, “The Sopranos,” and got a spot on the panel.

Castel got into a brief skirmish with a juror, a court clerk from the Bronx, who tried to wiggle his way off the jury at the last second and after a long day.

“This is an obstruction and a thwarting of the process. Your application is denied,” Castel told the man acidly, leaving the man to walk away, muttering: “Jerk.”

Opening arguments and testimony will begin Tuesday morning.



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