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

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Judge rules Genovese soldier was complicit in murder and sentences him to 25 years

A federal judge in Manhattan sentenced Emilio Fusco, a Genovese organized crime family member from Longmeadow, Mass., to 25 years in prison on Thursday after ruling that Fusco was complicit in the 2003 murder plots against onetime Mafia boss Adolfo "Big Al" Bruno and police informant Gary D. Westerman.
emilio fusco.jpgEmilio Fusco
U.S. District Judge P. Kevin Castel's rulings frustrated Fusco's defense lawyer, as Fusco was acquitted of those murders after a three-week trial in April.
"I think it's unreasonable and I think it's excessive," defense lawyer Richard B. Lind said of the sentence during the court proceeding.
Under federal law, judges may consider so-called "relevant conduct" in sentencing proceedings and find defendants responsible for certain crimes using a lower threshold of proof than a jury's barometer of beyond a reasonable doubt.
Fusco was convicted of racketeering and extortion conspiracies, plus interstate travel in aid of racketeering, connected to what prosecutors characterized as a 20-year career with the Mafia.
The defendant received the sentence as prosecutors lobbied for a 45-year prison stint and Lind argued for lower than U.S. Probation officials' recommendation of approximately seven years. He was the fourth to be sentenced in the case. Three defendants who went to trial in 2011 for parallel charges – including mob enforcers Fotios and Ty Geas, brothers from West Springfield, and onetime Genovese acting boss Arthur "Artie" Nigro, of Bronx, N.Y. – are serving life sentences.
Fusco's wife and three sons were present during a sentencing hearing that spanned two days. His sons sobbed after the judge delivered the sentence. Fusco shot his family something of a helpless look over his shoulder before he was led from the courtroom. Before adjourning, Castel told Fusco he should make amends with his family and others he had "injured" through his affiliation with the mob.
Fusco, an Italian native, gave an emotional statement in broken English, essentially thanking his family for supporting him and thanking the court for indulging his constitutional right to defend himself. He also repeatedly professed his innocence of the murders.
Prosecutors, however, have insisted all along that Fusco was among the co-conspirators in both murders and argued that the maximum sentence was the only just penalty.
"Emilio Fusco devoted his life to committing crimes for the Mafia, one of the country's most treacherous institutions," Assistant U.S. Attorney Daniel S. Goldman told Castel, noting that Fusco never denounced the Genovese family or rescinded his membership.
One of Bruno's five sons, Victor Bruno, of Springfield, made a pitch for leniency before U.S. District Judge P. Kevin Castel, castigating the government's practices of allowing cooperating witnesses to testify in exchange for lighter sentences. Victor Bruno also described his father's last moments in unsettling detail.
"That night he was killed was a night that I play over and over in my head," he told Castel. "At 9:15 I got a call that my father had been shot. I saw him covered with blood and paramedics trying to resuscitate him," Bruno said, describing laying his head on his father's chest at the emergency room, begging him to stay alive. "I cannot seem to forgive myself."
Bruno was shot six times at close range on Nov. 23, 2003, by paid hitman Frankie Roche, among four co-conspirators who turned informant during the prosecution.
Fusco, 43, was convicted in 2003 in a separate racketeering and loan sharking case in federal court in Springfield. He served a three-year sentence in that case. Investigators argued he played roles in the Bruno and Westerman killings while out on bail, just weeks before reporting to prison.
The previous racketeering conviction figured prominently in Fusco's trial in April, in that the government contended a reference in a presentencing report in that case – specifically, that Bruno confirmed to an FBI agent that Fusco was formally inducted into the Genovese family – branded Bruno an informant and was the gangster's ultimate undoing.
Already at odds with Mafia leadership in New York, witnesses testified that Fusco circulated the reference to Bruno's conversation with the law enforcement official among criminals in Western Massachusetts and New York, prompting Genovese family leaders to sanction a hit on Bruno.
He was gunned down in a dark parking lot one one day shy of his 58th birthday.
A fellow government witness, Anthony J. Arillotta, Bruno's successor in Springfield, testified that Fusco was recruited to help kill Westerman, a low-level criminal associate and Arillotta's brother-in-law, three weeks before Bruno was murdered. Arillotta told jurors Fusco helped bludgeon Westerman to death after two other mob enforcers shot him, and the group buried the body in an eight-foot hole in a wooded lot in Agawam, Mass. He also told jurors he and the Geases decided to kill Bruno "cowboy style" after mulling several other plans and Bruno proved hard to target.
Victor Bruno said in his statement to Castel that Arillotta was "the real culprit" in his father's murder and would ultimately "win" if he got a significant break in his sentence. Arillotta conceded on the witness stand that he had been "made" by Nigro and other gangsters in New York, but kept the ceremony quiet as he lobbied for power in Springfield in 2003.
Castel labeled Arillotta as an exceedingly credible witness and hung his rulings in the Fusco proceeding, in large part, on his testimony and that of other cooperating witnesses.
Westerman's remains were uncovered once Arillotta broke ranks after his arrest in the Bruno case in 2010. Fusco traveled to his native Italy as the dig for Westerman's body became public; he stayed there until his arrest by Italian officials late that summer. Prosecutors argued he fled there to avoid arrest, but Fusco's lawyers argued he went there to tend to his sick mother and business affairs – and his return to the United States was stymied by an Icelandic volcanic eruption that interrupted air travel across Europe.
The Bruno investigation began in Springfield but was transferred to New York in 2010, as prosecutors here built a case around the theory that the murders were part of a conspiracy that stretched between Massachusetts and here. Eight have either been convicted or pled guilty in the case, half of whom joined the federal Witness Protection program. The prosecution gutted the mob's numbers in Springfield, leaving the organizaton there essentially barren, investigators have said.
Sentencing proceedings for Arillotta and Roche have not yet been scheduled.



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