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

Monday, April 23, 2012

Turncoat Anthony Arillotta concludes testimony as star witness at Emilio Fusco mob murder trial

Anthony Arillotta on Monday bolstered his role in the growing ranks of mob turncoats who have taken down legions of their former comrades; not with guns, but from witness stands in federal court.
Following in the footsteps of notorious Mafia “cooperators,” Salvatore “Sammy the Bull” Gravano, Michael “Mikey Scars” DiLeonardo and Michael “Cookie” D’urso, all homegrown gangsters from New York City, Arillotta, of Springfield, concluded four days of testimony in Manhattan as the star prosecution witness in his second mob murder trial.

Like his predecessors, all of whom testified in separate trials against separate Mafia bosses and cohorts, Arillotta offered an unvarnished look at the lifestyle: the mechanics of loan-sharking, beatings, beefs over drugs and other illicit deals, plus contract hits against total strangers, longtime friends and even family members.

Arillotta took the witness stand starting last week in the trial of Emilio Fusco, of Longmeadow, accused in the 2003 murders of onetime Genovese family crime captain Adolfo “Big Al” Bruno, of Agawam, and police informant Gary D. Westerman, of Springfield. Arillotta said Fusco joined him in a violent run while the two were trying to grab absolute power over the local rackets around the time of the killings. Fusco has denied involvement in the killings.

Arillotta turned government informant after his own arrest in the Bruno case in 2010, cutting a deal with prosecutors that has yet to yield fruit. But, as Fusco’s defense lawyer, Richard B. Lind, quoted Arillotta during cross-examination in U.S. District Court: “I don’t want to see my (6-year-old) daughter again when she’s 26 years old.”

Lind was quoting from a recorded 2010 phone conversation Arillotta was having with his now-ex-wife while he was contemplating turning on his co-defendants – two of whom, Bruno shooter Frankie Roche and mob heavy John Bologna – had already turned on him.

“What they did,” Arillotta said on the recordings, referring to prosecutors before he cut a deal, “They wrote a movie based on these liars. I’m the star, almost. If one more person comes forward, they’re gonna write the movie, and it’s gonna be too late for the movie to change.”

While Gravano, DiLeonardo and D’urso took down the most notorious Mafia bosses (think the late John Gotti) and dozens of lesser wiseguys, Arillotta has been prolific in his own right, and essentially helped cripple the mob in western Massachusetts for the time being, according to law enforcement officials.
Not only did Arillotta help lead the charge in the Bruno murder case, he later implicated his two most feared enforcers and the onetime acting boss in the Genovese crime family who inducted Arillotta through his testimony in a trial in the same courtroom last year.

Fotios ‘Freddy” Geas and Ty Geas, Arillotta’s former henchmen from West Springfield, and Arthur “Artie” Nigro, the former boss from Bronx, N.Y., who sponsored Arillotta’s rise in the Mafia, are serving life sentences in connection with the Bruno plot.

Arillotta was twice required to reveal to jurors the most unflattering details of his life in the Mafia: ambushing with a gun a union official whom he had never met and whose name he hardly knew; sleeping with his former sister-in-law; killing Westerman, his brother-in-law; plotting against his former mentor Bruno; and hatching an unsuccessful ambush against his friend for 20 years, Louis Santos, a suspected informant.

“Louis Santos had been a friend of yours right? Since the 1980s? And at no point did you say a word to try and spare this guy, did you?” Lind asked on Monday.

“No. That’s the life. That’s the Mafia life,” Arillotta responded mildly.

While Fusco faces 20 years to life if convicted of the murders, Arillotta will likely be sentenced to drastically less at a proceeding that will not be scheduled until the conclusion of this trial. However, the sentencing break will be determined solely by U.S. District Judge P. Kevin Castel, who has presided over both trials.

Of course, there will be some enthusiastic prodding by assistant U.S. attorneys in the case, who will file motions for consideration based on the value of Arillotta’s testimony. And, Arillotta has been a wealth of information.

A crime scene expert from the FBI testified on Monday that Arillotta was so precise when he led investigators to the site where he said he, the Geases and Fusco killed and buried Westerman in a large wooded lot in Agawam, that agents only had to dig one hole to find his remains seven years after the fact.

Arillotta should get a break when he is sentenced, if history is any guide: Gravano was sentenced in 1991 in a New York court to 5 years in prison, despite admitting to 19 murders. Of course, he was the first, most high-profile mob cooperator as an underboss in the Gambino crime family, and sent John Gotti to prison for life.

D’urso in 2007 received five years’ probation and a $200 fine after admitting to one murder, but had covertly recorded hundreds of mob conversations for the government using a rigged Rolex watch.

DiLeonardo put a record 80 gangsters in prison and testified at 14 trials, receiving time served (nine years in federal prison since his 2002 arrest) at his sentencing in federal court, despite admitting murdering three people. However, investigators supporting DiLeonardo at his sentencing lauded his “encyclopedic knowledge” of mob life and help with long-stymied investigations, both of which Arillotta has logged with his cooperation.

Victor Bruno, of Springfield, who has come to watch every day of testimony in both trials of his father’s alleged murderers, snorted at the notion that Arillotta should get a lighter sentence in exchange for his testimony.

“He always had an exit plan ... He was the master manipulator in all of this. Do I think he should get five years or time served? No I do not. I think he should sit in the same cell with Freddy and Ty (Geas),” Victor Bruno said after the conclusion of Arillotta’s testimony Monday afternoon.

The trial is expected to last up to another two weeks.



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