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

Monday, April 30, 2012

Emilio Fusco's fate now in jurors' hands at mob murder trial

Lawyers in the mob murder trial of Longmeadow gangster Emilio Fusco wrapped up closing statements in U.S. District Court in Manhattan Monday afternoon.
Emilio Fusco

Prosecutors argued Fusco was a shrewd Mafia killer, while Fusco’s defense lawyer countered that the prosecution relied squarely on a government witness and habitual liar looking to deflect a life sentence of his own.

Fusco, 43, is standing trial for the 2003 murders of Springfield, organized crime boss Adolfo “Big Al” Bruno and police informant Gary D. Westerman, both of whom threatened the power structure of the New York-based Genovese crime family, according to prosecutors. Fusco also is accused of racketeering acts, including extortion and narcotics trafficking. He has denied involvement in any of the alleged schemes.

In short, government witness Anthony J. Arillotta testified under a plea deal that Fusco spearheaded a movement to take Bruno out because he learned through a court document that Bruno had confirmed Fusco was a “made guy” to an FBI agent in 2002; and that Fusco was among four men who helped shoot, bludgeon and bury Westerman in a show of solidarity to the “Springfield Crew” of the Genovese family.

Arillotta also told jurors over four days of testimony that Fusco provided a .45-caliber gun to Bruno shooter Frankie Roche, and acted as the spotter to alert Roche when Bruno would be at one of his frequent haunts, the Our Lady of Mount Carmel Society social club in Springfield’s South End neighborhood.

Bruno was gunned down there after his regular Sunday night card game on Nov. 23, 2003.
During his summation, Lind argued to jurors that the government had no DNA evidence, phone records, fingerprints or other physical evidence tying his client to either murder — they just had Arillotta, who has already pleaded guilty to both killings and other crimes.

“The question is not whom did (Arillotta) lie to? It’s whom didn’t he lie to?” Lind said during a 90-minute closing.

Previously, Assistant U.S. Attorney Nicholas McQuaid told the panel that Fusco became a rising star in the Springfield Genovese faction after he emigrated there from Italy in the 1990s.

“Just like it’s the job of a baker to bake bread; just like it’s the job of a barber to cut hair, it’s the job of a mobster to commit crimes. That was Emilio Fusco’s profession,” McQuaid said.

The problem with mob trials, both sides admit: government witnesses, defendants and victims alike were predators at some point.
Al Bruno Murder Case
Springfield, MA, May 3, 1993, Adolfo "Big Al" Bruno (center) talks with attorneys in the hallway of the Hampden County Superior Court during a recess in his trial for attempted murder.
Fusco pleaded guilty in 2003 to racketeering and loan-sharking, with prosecutors playing a Massachusetts State Police recording of him threatening to put a deadbeat debtor “in cement” and other threats as part of the foundation of the alleged conspiracy. A jail guard from a federal prison in Fort Dix, N.J., testified that Fusco ambushed another inmate and beat him in the prison yard to cozy up to Genovese underboss Ernest Muscarella, incarcerated at the same time. The maneuver landed Fusco in solitary confinement for a stint but boosted his stock in the Mafia.

Lind highlighted for jurors that Arillotta lied and killed his way to the top of the Springfield faction until his arrest in connection with the Bruno murder in 2010. Lind also argued that the Bruno murder initiative was in place long before Fusco came across the document that showed Bruno had spoken to an FBI agent about mob business. And, after Arillotta’s arrest, Arillotta still hid $80,000 in a Zip-lock bag in his basement in Springfield while his now ex-wife was forced to support their three children on food stamps.

“If Anthony Arillotta could deceive his wife of 17 years, the mother of his three children ... Do you think he would hesitate to deceive you? Complete strangers?” Lind asked the jury. “The government would have you believe that Anthony Arillotta was reformed once he signed the deal.”

Arillotta admitted during direct testimony to a startling history of violence including murder plots against longtime friends, and his mentor, Bruno; and an attempted fatal shooting of a union boss he had never met at the behest of then-Genovese acting boss Arthur Nigro; plus, the grisly killing of Westerman, who had married his young sister-in-law; and the baseless extortions of several Springfield business owners just because he thought they were fair game. His sentencing will not be scheduled until the resolution of Fusco’s case.

And to be sure, Bruno himself got on board with stepped-up shakedowns and violent measures against businessmen in Springfield when he became a captain 2001. Testimony showed Bruno fell out of favor around 2002 when he himself got scammed by Florida gangsters after investing $250,000 in an ill-fated cigarette exporting deal. He began bad-mouthing Nigro, and Lind argued that was the beginning of the end for Bruno — not the court document in his client’s case.

Even Westerman, who probably had the least power among the key players in the trial, was lured to his own death by the promise of committing a home invasion at an Agawam property before learning he had been fatally duped by Arillotta and his former henchmen, Fotios “Freddy” and Ty Geas, of West Springfield. They are now serving life prison sentences in connection with this case along with Nigro after a trial last year.

An FBI agent testified that Arillotta in 2010 led investigators to the site where Westerman had been killed and buried off Springfield Street in Agawam. In the hole where Westerman’s battered skull, sneakers and clothes were unearthed, investigators also found a ski mask and a stun gun that were Westerman’s intended robbery tools.

Lind spent the balance of his closing argument arguing to the jury that the government’s evidence against Fusco was flimsy, and the cigarette filters uncovered in the dig for Westerman’s body were the victim’s, not Fusco’s.

“How stupid would that be? Why wouldn’t you just leave a business card and a photo and say: ‘I was here!’ ” Lind argued.

The government countered that the cigarettes were Fusco’s and linked him to the crime. Also, problematic for Fusco: he boarded a plane to Italy within days of the Westerman dig in April of 2010 and only returned to the United States when Italian authorities arrested him at a bus stop in July and returned him to this country for trial. Lind put on witnesses who testified Fusco was there on family business.

Jurors are expected to begin their deliberations after eight days of testimony starting Tuesday morning. Fusco faces 20 years to life in prison if convicted.


New England mob boss wants out on bail

The man federal prosecutors claim is the acting boss of the New England crime family is asking that he be released on bail pending trial.
Anthony DiNunzio, 53, of East Boston, was arrested last week and charged with seven counts in a sweeping probe into organized crime.
DiNunzio’s lawyers say there is “no likelihood” he will skip out on bail because he has been aware of federal investigation against him for more than year.
“He clearly decided not to flee, and the alleged recorded conversation cited by the government (he would ‘hide’ in his own neighborhood) reinforces this fact,” his lawyers wrote in a motion filed Monday.
Prosecutors have asked the court to hold DiNunzio without bail offering a mountain of recorded conversations as evidence that he took over as boss in late 2009, early 2010.
They claim they recorded DiNunzio bragging about hiding in plain site during a conversation with a high-ranking member of a New York crime family.
“At one point, when he was discussing his concerns about possible charges being brought against him, he told the senior made member of the Gambino family that he did not need help in escaping to New York because, ‘I got places… I could go live in my neighborhood and nobody would ever find me,’” prosecutors wrote.
According to the indictment unsealed last week by the Rhode Island U.S. Attorney’s Office, DiNunzio is accused of receiving monthly protection payments from adult entertainment businesses in Providence including the Cadillac Lounge, The Satin Doll, Foxy Lady and Desire.
The charges come in a third superseding indictment in a case that has already sparked seven plea agreements with federal prosecutors, including from the former mob boss Luigi “Baby Shacks” Manocchio.
DiNunzio has pleaded not guilty to the charges and is being held without bail at the Wyatt Detention Center in Central Falls. He is expected back in court on Thursday where his lawyers will fight for his release.


Mobster's attorney turns to Psalms for final remarks during murder trial, calls witnesses rats

It's a Mafia trial that sounds more like a scholarly lecture at a theological seminary.
The defense attorney for Colombo crime family street boss Thomas “Tommy Shots” Gioeli adopted a religious tone today in his final remarks to the jury, quoting Biblical and Talmudic passages with the authority of a religious scholar.
"Deliver me not over unto the will of mine enemies," attorney Adam Perlmutter intoned, quoting Psalm 27.
"For false witnesses are risen up against me," the attorney continued.
Those "false witnesses" are former mobsters who once were members of the Colombo crime family, who over the past six weeks delivered damning testimony at Gioeli's trial implicating him in six brutal and carefully-planned Mafia murders.
Perlmutter implored the Brooklyn federal court jury to be careful in weighing the source of the evidence amassed against Gioeli.
"You must evaluate the credibility of these witnesses to decide if you can believe them," the attorney said.
That's when the spiritual tone evaporated in the silent courtroom, as Perlmutter described the ex-mobsters who testified against Gioeli as government witnesses, calling them "untrustworthy, unreliable, desperate individuals."
"You know what else they are? Rats!" Perlmutter said of the FBI informants.
Furthermore, even if Gioeli admittedly was at the scene at one of the premeditated mob hits, the attorney argued, that doesn't mean that he played a role in the killing.
"Simply because he was there, he is not guilty of that murder," Perlmutter said.
The defense, however, skirted past several other relevant details that fall within the thematic outlines of a religious parable.
For example, the attorney has not mentioned the testimony from a close associate that Gioeli once plotted a ranking gangster’s murder in the same Long Island church garden where he regularly prayed.
Colombo underboss William “Wild Bill” Cutolo was eventually shot to death and buried in a Long Island field, prosecutors say.
There has also been no mention of the allegation that Gioeli once told a colleague that he believed he's destined for hell, because of the role he played in the 1982 murder of a former Catholic nun.
Gioeli and another mobster fatally shot Veronica Zuraw with a stray shotgun blast in Brooklyn that was intended for two other mob associates, prosecutors say.
He was not charged with the former nun's murder, but is currently on trial for a total of six other mob hits.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Five Gambino Crime Family Members and Associates Plead Guilty in Manhattan Federal Court

Preet Bharara, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, announced today that VINCENZO FROGIERO, TODD LABARCA, JOHN BRANCACCIO, CHRISTOPHER REYNOLDS, and SEAN DUNN—all of whom are either members or associates of the Gambino organized crime family of La Cosa Nostra—pled guilty to crimes including racketeering, narcotics trafficking, assault, and extortion. LABARCA also pled guilty to conspiring to commit the January 2002 murder of Martin Bosshart, which was part of a turf war over control of a Gambino family marijuana trafficking operation. These five defendants were charged along with 17 others in the Southern District of New York in January 2011 in U.S. v. Joseph Corozzo, et al. as part of a nationwide takedown of members and associates of organized crime. FROGIERO, LABARCA, BRANCACCIO, and REYNOLDS pled guilty today before U.S. District Judge Richard M. Berman. DUNN pled guilty on Monday before Judge Berman.
Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said: “For more than a decade, the vicious murder of Martin Bosshart in a mafia turf battle went unsolved. With today’s guilty plea of Todd LaBarca, one of the responsible parties will be held to account. The laundry list of illegal conduct to which LaBarca and these four other defendants pled serves as a reminder of the scourge that is organized crime and that our efforts to root it out will continue unabated.”
According to the indictment, the informations, and other documents filed in the case, as well as statements made during the plea proceedings:
FROGERIO was a soldier and LABARCA was an associate in a crew run by Gambino family captain Louis Mastrangelo. Soldiers are members who have been formally initiated, or “made,” and associates are non-initiated individuals who commit crimes with and for the Gambino family. BRANCACCIO, REYNOLDS, and DUNN were associates in a crew run by Gambino family captain Alphonse Trucchio.
In addition to LABARCA’s murder conspiracy plea, the five defendants pled guilty to racketeering charges. Various defendants also pled guilty to narcotics trafficking, assault, extortion, and other crimes.
Murder of Martin Bosshart
From the late 1990s through 2002, LABARCA and other Gambino family members and associates, including Michael Roccaforte, imported hundreds of kilograms of high-potency marijuana from Canada into the New York City area. The marijuana trafficking operation yielded millions of dollars in profits for the Gambino family. In 2001, Martin Bosshart, who was involved in narcotics trafficking and other crimes with various members of Trucchio’s crew, began making efforts to exclude Michael Roccaforte from the marijuana importation operation. In an effort to prevent Bosshart from taking over for Michael Roccaforte and from moving in on the marijuana importation business, LABARCA plotted with other Gambino family members and associates to murder Bosshart. On the night of January 2, 2002, LABARCA and others lured Bosshart to an isolated location in Queens, New York. There, another Gambino family associate shot Bosshart in the back of the head at point-blank range, killing him. Bosshart’s body was recovered at the scene, and LABARCA’s guilty plea in this case is the first conviction of any individual in connection with Bosshart’s murder.
Narcotics Trafficking and Firearms Offenses
LABARCA, BRANCACCIO, REYNOLDS, and DUNN pled guilty to narcotics trafficking offenses. From the late 1980s through 2010, Trucchio and others oversaw the Gambino family’s large-scale narcotics distribution operations, which were primarily located in Queens, New York. Numerous drug suppliers, wholesalers, and street dealers operated under the authority and protection of the Gambino family in exchange for paying the family a portion of their profits. Over the years, the named defendants and others distributed hundreds of kilograms of cocaine and marijuana, and thousands of ecstasy and vicodin pills, all of which generated millions of dollars in illegal proceeds for the Gambino family. During a search of BRANCACCIO’s home, federal agents seized quantities of cocaine and marijuana, as well as a shotgun, a handgun, a bullet-proof vest, and a machete.
Extortions and Assaults
LABARCA, BRANCACCIO, and REYNOLDS pled guilty for their roles in extorting payments from various businesses’ owners and individuals based in New York City through the use of violence and threats. In one instance, LABARCA, BRANCACCIO, and others threatened a small business owner with guns and threats of death in an effort to extort tens of thousands of dollars. LABARCA and REYNOLDS also pled guilty to committing assaults for the Gambino family.
FROGIERO, LABARCA, BRANCACCIO, and REYNOLDS pled guilty to various gambling offenses, including running Internet-based sports betting, or “bookmaking,” operations, various regular, high-stakes card games, and operating video poker machines.
* * *
The maximum penalties that each defendant faces are outlined in a chart below.
Fourteen defendants previously pled guilty in connection with the case: Gambino family captains Trucchio and Mastrangelo; Gambino family soldiers Michael Roccaforte and Anthony Moscatiello; and Gambino family associates Christopher Colon, Salvatore Tortorici, Frank Bellantoni, Michael Kuhtenia, Salvatore Accardi, Keith Croce, Frank Roccaforte, Michael Russo, Robert Napolitano, and Anthino Russo.
Charges are pending against the remaining three defendants charged in the Indictment: Gambino family consigliere Joseph Corozzo, Gambino family ruling panel member Bartolomeo Vernace, and Gambino family associate Robert Bucholz. These defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.
Five defendants who were associates of the Gambino crime family and charged as part of last year’s takedown in a separate indictment, U.S. v. John Cipolla, et al., have also pled guilty.
Mr. Bharara praised the work of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations, and the U.S. Department of State’s Diplomatic Security Service. Mr. Bharara also noted that the investigation is continuing.
The case is being handled by the Office’s Organized Crime Unit. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Elie Honig, Daniel Chung, and Natalie Lamarque are in charge of the prosecution.


Defendant Charges Statutory Maximum Sentencing
Vincenzo Frogiero Illegal gambling, wire transmission of gambling information Maximum: 10 years in prison July 12, 2012 10:00 a.m.
Todd LaBarca RICO; murder conspiracy; narcotics trafficking; extortion; assault; illegal gambling Maximum: 23 years in prison July 12, 2012 11:00 a.m.
John Brancaccio RICO; narcotics trafficking; firearms; extortion; illegal gambling Maximum: 20 years in prison July 25, 2012 12:45 p.m.
Christopher Reynolds RICO; narcotics trafficking; extortion; assault; illegal gambling Maximum: Life in prison July 24, 2012 12:45 p.m.
Sean Dunn RICO conspiracy; narcotics trafficking Maximum: Life in prison July 26, 2012 12:45 p.m.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Turncoat Hector Pagan Jr is set to testify next month in trial of Bonanno underboss

The real-life drama on “Mob Wives” is again starting to outshine the stuff on TV.
The gangster ex-husband of the show’s undisputed star, Renee Graziano, is “likely” to take the witness stand in a Brooklyn mob trial early next month — his first appearance as a government informant — sources tell The Post.
Turncoat Hector “Junior” Pagan wore a hidden microphone to tape conversations with at least six organized crime figures after he agreed last summer — while taping the VH1 reality show — to flip.
Federal prosecutors, however, appear reluctant to actually put Pagan on the witness stand. They have been settling the cases Pagan helped to make before the trial by offering the taped gangsters less-than-usual jail sentences in exchange for guilty pleas.
FAMILY ISSUES: Renee Graziano’s (with fellow ‘Mob Wife” Ramona Rizzo) ex is at the center of a Mafia family scandal.
FAMILY ISSUES: Renee Graziano’s (with fellow ‘Mob Wife” Ramona Rizzo) ex is at the center of a Mafia family scandal.
RAT TALE: Hector Pagan shown on show.
RAT TALE: Hector Pagan shown on show.
But now it appears there is a holdout, a Bonanno crime family underboss named Nicholas "Nicky Mouth” Santora.
He has turned down plea offers, according to a report in the authoritative online Web site Gangland News, and is preparing to go to trial a week from Monday.
Santora, 70, who reputedly played a significant role in the famous mob murder of Bonanno boss Carmine Galante in 1979, is charged with gambling and extortion.
Pagan, who has complained he was facing 50 years in prison on drug charges if he didn’t agree to cooperate, may not be an ideal government witness.
According to a report last February in The Post, Pagan may have neglected to tell his government handlers that he was involved in a drug-related murder in 2010 — just as taping of “Mob Wives” had begun.
“Why don’t these guys take a plea,” Junior complained in a letter to an estranged family member, according to Gangland.
The turncoat mobster’s appearance at the trial will turn what would have been a relatively minor organized crime trial into a TV event.
Pagan has not been seen on Staten Island (where the show is filmed) since he flipped, though he continues to appear on the Sunday-night show in video footage shot last fall before the truth came out.
The show has devoted three episodes to how Pagan taped conversations with Renee’s father, a reputed mob captain who stayed close with Pagan even after the divorce.

Transcripts show reputed mob boss’s violent streak

The man owed him money, tens of thousands of dollars for the purchase of his cheese shop in the North End, and Anthony DiNunzio was furious and wanted to send a message.
“So I grabbed him,’’ DiNunzio, the reputed boss of the New England Mafia, allegedly told an associate last December.
“Twenty-five [thousand dollars] comes to me.’’
DiNunzio’s associate, a senior member of the Gambino family, was sympathetic. And he responded, “He’s going to pay the twenty-five.’’
“Oh, yeah,’’ DiNunzio said, laughing and insinuating that if the payment wasn’t made, “I’ll kill him.’’
The alleged exchange, at a meeting in Clifton, N.J., was laid out in court records this week as part of prosecutors’ arguments that DiNunzio has shown a propensity for violence and that he should be held without bail, pending a trial on extortion and racketeering charges in federal court in Rhode Island.
DiNunzio is the brother of convicted New England Mafia underboss Carmen “The Cheeseman’’ DiNunzio, who ran the cheese shop.
The conversation with the Gambino member and related exchanges outlined in court records describe DiNunzio’s unforgiving management style after taking over the New England Mafia, how he bragged that he would bury alive dissenters; how he demanded payments from underlings in Rhode Island; how he sought out and intimidated members of his organization he thought were cooperating with authorities.
The court records show that DiNunzio was worried that an investigation into his Rhode Island underlings would be his downfall.
“That’s the only thing I could think that could set me up,’’ he allegedly said.
In truth, the conversations with the senior Gambino family member became just as much part of the case against him. They were recorded by authorities.
At one point, according to court records, DiNunzio could be heard telling the Gambino family member he did not need help escaping arrest.
“I got places,’’ he allegedly said. “. . . I could go live in my neighborhood and nobody would ever find me.’’
DiNunzio was arrested without incident just before 7 a.m. Wednesday. After a brief hearing later that day, at which he pleaded not guilty, he was ordered held without bail, pending a detention hearing scheduled for May 3. He faces up to 20 years in prison on some charges.
His lawyer, Robert Sheketoff, declined comment Thursday.
The Gambino family member was not identified and is listed in court records as a cooperating witness.
Current and former law enforcement officials said this week that the case against DiNunzio, part of a broader federal prosecution in Rhode Island that has already led to the conviction of six Mafia members and associates, shows that the underworld of the New England Mafia ranges from Boston to Rhode Island to New York.
Authorities allege that DiNunzio took the helm of the New England La Cosa Nostra not long after Luigi “Louie’’ Manocchio of Rhode Island stepped down in 2009.
DiNunzio immediately commanded a portion of the extortion payments that Manocchio’s crew received from strip clubs, court records say.
And he met with members of the Gambino family, asking for permission to demand payments from an unidentified member of the adult entertainment industry who was running businesses in Rhode Island.
The man was already paying protection payments to the Gambino family.
“There’s always been a relationship between the Providence people and the Boston people,’’ said Thomas Foley, a retired State Police commander who investigated organized crime in Massachusetts for years as head of the agency’s special services unit.
Those relationships extended farther still: The Gambino family, one of New York’s five Mafia families, has long had an interest in the Mafia’s workings in New England.
“They felt that if somebody in New England was a problem for them, or good for them, naturally they’ve had their input,’’ he said.
The arrests, specifically that of DiNunzio, depict the ongoing work of La Cosa Nostra, as well as the continued prosecution by law enforcement.
“Over the decades, the law enforcement network has basically dismantled New England La Cosa Nostra as we know it,’’ said Colonel Steven G. O’Donnell of the Rhode Island State Police, which assisted in the investigation.
“It’s just another boss who got arrested,’’ he said. “. . . It’s another message that if you want to become a leader, you become a target of ours.’’
DiNunzio, whose criminal record includes a previous conviction for extortion, described the immediate actions he would take once assuming leadership, according to court records.
In a conversation with the senior Gambino member in June 2011, he speculated about who was cooperating with authorities, and he concluded that it could be a former New England Mafia boss.
He went on to explain, according to court records, that he dispatched an associate to try to locate the former boss.


Acting boss seen as aspiring for the official slot

As the accused “acting boss” of the New England Mafia, Anthony DiNunzio was just a seat warmer for his caged big brother — but the taped rants in a federal indictment suggest the alleged second banana might not have been above plotting a coup d’etat, organized crime experts said yesterday.
“When I hear ‘acting boss,’ that means the boss is in prison. It’s also an opportunity to take over, if they’re that brazen,” said author Allan May, a noted gangland historian.
DiNunzio’s brother and predecessor, Carmen “The Cheeseman” DiNunzio, is due to be released in January 2015 on a six- year stretch he’s serving in New Jersey for bribery.
“It’s not uncommon for somebody to sit in a figurehead position,” while the real godfather is incarcerated, May said, but it’s “pretty rare” for someone as young as the 53-year-old Anthony DiNunzio to ride shotgun. “It’s usually an older person in the mob who serves as an overseer,” May said.
Carmen DiNunzio’s lawyer, Anthony Cardinale, said last night the brothers have remained close in the three years that ‘The Cheeseman’ has been locked up for trying to sell bad loa, to Big Dig officials.
“Anthony goes to see him. They talk on the phone,” he said.
After DiNunzio’s arrest Wednesday in the North End, and arraignment in federal court in Providence on charges of shaking down strip clubs and adult book stores in Rhode Island for “protection” tribute of up to $6,000 a month, prosecutors said he rose to be the new big cheese after his brother and the reputed Rhode Island boss were busted in 2009.
Prosecutors said DiNunzio was recorded last summer at My Cousin Vinny’s Restaurant in Malden boasting to a member of New York’s Gambino crime family that he could maintain respect and face down any disloyalty with threats: “As soon as I took over I changed everything.”
Not likely, said Robert Long, a retired state police detective lieutenant. “Organized crime is really very disorganized,” Long said.
“Nobody wants to stand up and be recognized as No. 1 because they’re targeted. They know everyone’s going to drop a dime on them. There is no honor today.”
Meanwhile, if DiNunzio is short on defense funds, he might turn to family.
His son, Louis DiNunzio, claimed a $1 million jackpot in 2008 from a Billion Dollar Blockbuster scratch ticket. He’ll receive $35,000 a year for 20 years after taxes, said Lottery spokeswoman Beth Bresnahan.


Thursday, April 26, 2012

Emilio Fusco jurors in New York hear 7 days of testimony in mob murder trial

4 more mob mugs 42612.jpg
Western Massachusetts mob figures mentioned in the Emilio Fusco murder trial in New York include, clockwise from top left, Fusco and Anthony Arilllotta, and Adolfo Bruno and Gary Westerman, both deceased.
Prosecutors rested their case Thursday afternoon against Emilio Fusco, accused of two mob-related murders in Western Massachusetts, after seven days of testimony and dozens of witnesses in U.S. District Court.
The government closed with witnesses that included the Italian police official who arrested Fusco at a bus stop in Santaniello, Italy on July 29, 2010.
Fusco, of Longmeadow, is accused in the 2003 murders of Springfield, Mass., crime boss Adolfo "Big Al" Bruno and street thug Gary D. Westerman, plus a string of extortions, drug deals and illegal gaming rings.
Fusco, 43, an Italian native who immigrated to western Massachusetts in the 1990s, had denied all charges.
Testifying through an interpreter, Massimiliano Guidone said he and eight other investigators with the "carabinieri" tailed Fusco to Santaniello, where Fusco had rented an apartment in the Italian countryside. Guidone told jurors he hid in a shed near Fusco's apartment for six hours on July 29,2010 until Fusco emerged on the road nearby and walked to a bar in the town square. The investigator said he finally approached Fusco at a bus stop to arrest him.
The government has argued Fusco fled to avoid prosecution amid intense publicity about a law enforcement dig for Westerman's body in a wooded lot in Agawam, Mass., in April of 2010 and speculation that mob captain Anthony J. Arillotta was cooperating with the FBI and state police.

Arillotta testified against Fusco for nearly four days in this trial under a plea deal, telling jurors he and Fusco were among four men who shot and bludgeoned Westerman to death before burying him in a ditch.
Defense lawyer Richard B. Lind has argued Fusco traveled to Italy to attend his sister's 50th birthday party in mid-April of 2010, and among the witnesses the defense called this afternoon was Fusco's sister, Angela Fusco, of Quindici, Italy.
Through an interpreter, Angela Fusco testified that her brother arrived for her birthday party a few days before and was delayed in coming back by their mother's health problems and a volcanic eruption that disrupted European plane travel that year.
"I told him not to leave. It's not the right time. My mother was crying," Angela Fusco told jurors.
The testimony had a stuttery feel to it when Angela Fusco became intermittently confused by the questions. She left the witness stand with her brother becoming agitated and apparently scolding her in Italian.
Other witnesses for the defense included noted Boston criminal defense lawyer Anthony M. Cardinale, who represented Fusco in a 2001 loan-sharking case that yielded a three-year prison stint for Fusco under a plea deal - and produced a court document prosecutors in this case say effectively sealed a death warrant for Bruno.
Within a presentencing summary for Fusco, there was a reference to Bruno confirming to an FBI agent that Fusco was a "made man" in the Genovese family, which incensed Fusco, according to Cardinale, until the lawyer explained to his client that the reference did not equate to Bruno being "a rat."
"I told him that (if Bruno were formally cooperating with the government) it would never be disclosed in this fashion," Cardinale testified.
The Boston attorney conceded on cross-examination that he has represented a string of gangsters over 35 years as a trial lawyer, including the late Gambino boss, John Gotti.
Defense lawyer Richard Lind told U.S. District Judge P. Kevin Castel that he intends to call Westerman's widow, Sandra Berardi, to the witness stand and Springfield businessman Carmino Bonavita, who was partners with Bruno in an ill-fated cigarette exporting deal in 2002 the defense contends was at the root of his demise in the Genovese family.
Testimony is scheduled to resume Monday in U.S. District Court.


Colombo lawyers argue lack of physical evidence in cop slay

Defense attorneys for Colombo crime family soldier Dino Saracino argued in closing statements Thursday that despite sprawling investigations and forensic analyses, not a single shred of physical evidence links the mobster to the murder of NYPD officer Ralph Dols.
Defense lawyer Sam Braverman told a Brooklyn federal court jury that an extensive forensic search of the car used in the 1997 Dols hit uncovered many fibers, but contained nothing that points to his client.
"They don't come back to match Dino Saracino," Braverman said.
The attorney also emphasized that shortly before Dols succumbed to gunshot wounds, the off-duty officer told a New York City police investigator that he thought he had been ambushed by a total of three gunman in front of his Sheepshead Bay home.
Those were "the last words of a dying police officer," Braverman told the jury.
But Assistant US Attorney James Gatta offered a very different account, saying that Dols was gunned down by Saracino and his cousin, Dino "Big Dino" Calabro, who testified about the murder earlier in the trial as a government informant.
Calabro, a former Colombo captain, told the jury that he used a .44-caliber Magnum revolver for the hit, while Little Dino packed a .45-caliber semi automatic.
The feds say Dols was targeted for the hit because he had married the ex-wife of then-Colombo consigliere Joel "Joe Waverly" Cacace.
The hit was ordered by Cacace because he was angry about the marriage, prosecutors say


Two more mobsters indicted in case against Philly mob boss

Joseph “Scoops” Licata, long-time leader of the North Jersey faction of the Philadelphia mob, was indicted on racketeering charges today as federal authorities expanded a pending case against alleged mob boss Joseph Ligambi and more than a dozen of his associates.
The indictment adds Licata and reputed North Jersey mob soldier Louis “Big Lou” Fazzini as defendants and includes two new charges against Ligambi tied to an alleged “no show” job at a South Philadelphia trash disposal company.
Ligambi, already facing racketeering charges built around gambling, loansharking, extortion, and the operation of illegal video-poker machines, now is also charged with collecting $224,424 in medical benefits for himself and his family members from a Teamsters Health & Welfare Fund.
The “benefit plan” was part of Ligambi’s no-show employment at the Top Job trash company. The New Jersey State Commission of Investigation detailed allegations that Ligambi received a weekly salary of about $1,000 from 2003 to 2010 while doing no work for the company.
A recent SCI report focused on what it said were systematic and long-standing problems of mob involvement in the solid waste disposal business. The new charges in the indictment repeat and expanded on the allegations in that report.
Ligambi, 72, has been held without bail since his arrest in May. Licata, 70, of Florham Park, and Fazzini, 45, of Caldwell, were arrested today and are scheduled to make intitial appearances in federal court in Philadelphia.


Mob Researcher Gets More Acccess to FBI Data

The FBI must release more records about one of its informants in the Mafia, Gregory Scarpa Sr., a federal judge ruled.
     In the 1980s, Scarpa, known as "The Grim Reaper" or "The Mad Hatter," was a Colombo family capo, short for caporegime, which translates roughly to captain.
     Though Scarpa's information helped the FBI take down several members of La Cosa Nostra, a New York federal judge found that Scarpa also benefitted from information leaked to him by his FBI handler, Lindley DeVecchio.
     Prosecutors said DeVecchio's leaks led to four murders, but they dropped the charges midtrial when new evidence discredited the main witness.
     Hoping to learn more about the case, self-described Scarpa expert Angela Clemente asked the FBI in 2008 to release the informant's unredacted file, and waive the copying and processing fees.
     The FBI denied Clemente's fee-waiver application, but released 500 pages of redacted records that year, along with another 653 in March 2009, withholding some information under various exemptions.
     A federal judge in 2010 ruled that Clemente was entitled to the fee waiver, but found that the FBI had conducted an adequate search for the requested documents and was not required to search any further.
     Though Clemente could have argued that the FBI should have searched for files in its New York field office, Clemente had only submitted her request for records at the D.C. headquarters, so the agency could limit its search to that location.
     After Clemente requested the redacted information, the court ruled that the FBI could withhold some information based on law-enforcement and agency-regulation exemptions, but was not allowed to withhold records of "only historical significance", such as the number of mob informants operative in the 1960s.
     In complying with the court's decision, the FBI reprocessed a sample of pages submitted by Clemente and released some information it had previously withheld, but maintained some redactions.
     Clemente renewed her motion for summary judgment, arguing that the FBI had improperly withheld nonexempt information that was not "inextricably intertwined with exempt portions," and that the agency's search for documents responsive to her FOIA request was inadequate. She claimed the FBI had to reprocess the entire set of responsive documents.
     Clemente also asked the court to reconsider the previous ruling that the FBI did not have to search for records in its New York office.
     U.S. District Judge Barbara Jacobs Rothstein sided with the FBI earlier this month on the adequacy-of-search issue, confirming that the FBI's New York office did not have to respond to Clemente's request unless she submitted it to that location.
     But the FBI does need to release more information from some of the redacted documents, Rothstein added. If the agency released information that had previously been withheld from the sample records submitted by Clemente, it is likely that other responsive documents contain information that was withheld without justification, according to the ruling.
     Rothstein ordered the FBI to reprocess the documents and release all nonexempt information to Clemente.


Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Feds takedown the acting boss of New England's Patriarca crime family

The man federal authorities say is the acting boss of the New England crime family pleaded not guilty to charges in a sweeping indictment accusing him of racketeering and extortion.
Anthony DiNunzio, 53, of East Boston, appeared in federal court in Providence wearing a black jogging suit and glasses. He is being held without bail until a detention hearing next month.
“As of this morning at approximately 6 a.m. the New England La Cosa Nostra became leaderless when its alleged boss, Anthony DiNunzio, was arrested,” said Richard Deslauriers, FBI Special Agent in Charge of the Boston office.
Rhode Island State Police Colonel Seven O'Donnell said DiNunzio was arrested "without incident" at the Gemini Social Club in the North End of Boston.
According to the indictment unsealed Wednesday by the Rhode Island U.S. Attorney’s Office, DiNunzio is accused of receiving monthly protection payments from adult entertainment businesses in Providence including the Cadillac Lounge, The Satin Doll, Foxy Lady and Desire.
The charges come in a third superseding indictment in a case that has already sparked seven plea agreements with federal prosecutors, including from the former mob boss Luigi “Baby Shacks” Manocchio.
"Make no mistake we will continue to apply unrelenting pressure on those who choose to make their living on their fellow citizens," Rhode Island U.S. Attorney Peter Neronha said at an afternoon press conference.
Beside DiNunzio, also named in the new indictment are accused mob associates Albino “Albie” Folcarelli and Thomas Cardillo. Folcarelli is scheduled to change his plea to guilty at a hearing next week.
The indictment is the clearest picture to date by federal investigators of who they say are the high-ranking members of the crime family and how they operate.
It is also the first time federal law enforcement has officially identified DiNunzio as the acting leader.
“In late 2009 and early 2010, DiNunzio, then an NELCN Capo assumed a leadership role and ultimately became the acting boss of the NELCN,” the indictment states.
The indictment alleges Rhode Island capo regime Edward “Eddy” Lato –who pleaded guilty in this case last month – would drive to Massachusetts to meet with DiNunzio and deliver protection payments.
One of those payouts totaled $5,000 and was seized by FBI agents on May 5, 2011, according to investigators.
“Organized crime likes to believe their reach is long, but our reach is longer,” Neronha said.
In June 2011, DiNunzio became aware of the investigation, according to prosecutors. The indictment quotes a conversation he had with a member of the Gambino crime family about a meeting at a Chinese food restaurant in Boston that he later learned was bugged.
“We met, me and two other guys… they had us on tape, I just found out yesterday,” the indictment quotes DiNunzio as saying. “The whole place was wired no matter what table we sat at.”
It was Lato who coughed up DiNunzio’s role in the family to a high-ranking member of the mob who was wearing a wire for the FBI. He was complaining that he thought he was being followed every time he travelled to Boston.
“They’re following [DiNunzio], I mean, not that they’re not supposed to follow him, he’s the [expletive] boss,” Lato said according to the indictment.
According to the indictment, DiNunzio was caught on tape discussing his leadership style to a member of the Gambino crime family. He said if a member of his crew failed to do as he said, he would kill them.
 “I’ll bury you right in the [expletive] ground puts all the dirt. You’re alive. They stay there. I’ll stay there [expletive] ten hours until your dead. And I’ll dig you back up and make sure your [sic] dead,” DiNunzio said according to the indictment.
DiNunzio is named in seven of the eight counts including charges of racketeering conspiracy, extortion conspiracy and multiple counts of Travel in Aid of Racketeering.
DiNunzio’s lawyer Robert Sheketoff had no comment coming out of court. But during the hearing he asked U.S. Magistrate Judge David Martin to instruct officials at the Wyatt Detention Center in Central Falls to make sure DiNunzio gets his insulin medication.
The chief of the Department of Justice's Organized Crime and Gang Division, James Trusty, flew up from Washington D.C. to take part in the press conference.
"We are determined to put La Cosa Nostra out of business and we wont stop until we have done just that," Trusty said.


Adolfo Bruno shooter Frankie Roche resumes testimony in murder trial

Frankie Roche mug 2007.jpg
Frankie Roche, the admitted shooter in the 2003 contract hit on Springfield organized crime boss Adolfo "Big Al" Bruno, offered jurors in federal court more hours of dispassionate testimony about a string of beatings, attempted killings and a murder he said he carried out almost robotically.
On trial is Emilio Fusco, a Longmeadow man accused in the plot against Bruno prosecutors say included gangsters from Greater Springfield to the highest ranks of the Genovese crime family in New York. Fusco also is charged with the 2003 murder of police informant and street thug Gary D. Westerman, plus a string of extortions, narcotics deals and illegal gambling schemes. Fusco, 43, a so-called made member of the Genovese family, has denied all charges.
Roche began testifying in U.S. District Court on Tuesday - his second time on the witness stand in a murder trial as part of a plea deal with prosecutors.He described to jurors that he was drawn into the "Springfield Crew" of the Genovese family via a prison buddy, Fotios "Freddy" Geas, a henchman for then-rising mob star Anthony J. Arillotta.
Arillotta, who also turned government witness after being charged in connection with the Bruno murder in 2010, testified early that Geas referred to Roche as his "crash dummy," and ended up being his pick for a hitman once the plan to murder Bruno gained speed with a "green light" from the New York bosses.
Roche testified on Tuesday that he was promised $10,000 to ambush Bruno with a .45-caliber pistol in the parking lot of the Our Lady of Mount Carmel Society social club in downtown Springfield, Mass. He said he emerged from behind a vending machine as Bruno approached his car after his regular Sunday night card game on Nov. 23, 2003 and called out "Hey Al ... You looking for me?" before pumping the crime boss full of bullets.
"Did you have a problem with taking $10,000 to kill a human being?" defense lawyer Richard B. Lind asked Roche during two hours of cross-examination.
"Absolutely not," Roche responded.
"You didn't have to think twice about it?" Lind asked.
"Nope," Roche said, later adding: "It's the kinda guy I was."
"Oh, you're reformed now?" Lind asked skeptically.
"I'm better now," Roche answered.
Roche also testified that after he was arrested and charged with Bruno's murder in state court in Massachusetts in 2005, he continued to communicate with Geas while the two were being held in separate prisons by passing hand-written notes through Springfield criminal defense lawyer Daniel D. Kelly. The government also offered into evidence a hand-written note drafted by Kelly to Roche, that read, in part: "I am working on other witnesses for you."
Kelly, a former Springfield City Councilor, has not been charged in the case.
Although Roche testified about his onetime distaste for "rats," he conceded he now is one himself and hopes to get out of prison as soon as possible in exchange for his testimony.
"You'd like to be out on the streets tomorrow if you could, isn't that right?" Lind asked.
"Absolutely," Roche answered.
Testimony is scheduled to continue Wednesday afternoon. East Longmeadow, Mass. gangster Felix Tranghese, who also entered the Witness Protection Program after he was charged in connection with the Bruno murder, is expected to be one of the next few witnesses to take the stand.


Former Colombo crime boss refuses to leave cell to go to court

On the day prosecutors in the Colombo mob trial were to deliver their final summations to the jury, former street boss Thomas "Tommy Shots" Gioeli suddenly refused to leave his cell -- causing a delay in the wrap-up of the murder racketeering case.
"Mr. Gioeli has refused to proceed with the Marshals to the courthouse," defense attorney Adam Perlmutter told the judge this morning.
Also noticeably absent from court were Gioeli's family members who have been a constant fixture throughout the month-and-a-half long mob trial.
His attorneys were quick to blame Gioeli's absence from the Brooklyn federal court trial on the mobster's longstanding battle with a variety of medical ailments, but they declined publicly to specify the precise problem.
Former Colombo boss Thomas "Tommy Shots" Gioeli
At the same time, Gioeli's defense team informed the judge that the wiseguy was displeased with the wording of the verdict form, which jurors will use to help formulate their decisions about the defendant's innocence or guilt.
"Mr. Gioeli is obviously upset with the verdict sheet," Perlmutter told Judge Brian Cogan.
The issue revolved around the mention of Gioeli's alleged involvement with certain so-called uncharged racketeering acts, including a bank robbery carried out years ago by his underlings in East Meadow, LI.
The verdict sheet mentions these incidents, which suggest that Gioeli may have participated in a conspiracy with other mobsters - even though he wasn't specifically charged with those crimes.
Gioeli reportedly was angry with his decision on Tuesday not to take the stand and testify in his own defense after learning that the jurors will read about these uncharged racketeering acts and made the decision last night to not appear in court today, a source told The Post.
The judge noted at today's hearing that he had decided to alter the wording of the verdict sheet solely for the sake of clarity, although the document still carries the same meaning as before.
"I have revised the verdict form, because I found it to be confusing," Cogan said.
The judge stressed that the alteration "doesn't change the substance" of charges contained in the document.
Gioeli's refusal to appear in court prompted Perlmutter to make an emergency foray to the federal Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn, where Gioeli is being housed during the trial.
It was there that by mid-morning Gioeli had a change of heart.
"He definitely wants to be present for closing arguments," Perlmutter informed the judge, after returning from his prison visit.
A sidebar discussion was held about Gioeli's health issues, but the judge ordered that the transcript should be sealed citing privacy concerns.
In the past, Gioeli's attorneys have catalogued a long litany of ailments the mobster is afflicted by, including heart problems, diabetes, issues related to the implantation of a stent, and the effects of having suffered a stroke several years ago.
The judge then ordered that Gioeli undergo an examination by physicians at the federal detention center, and adjourned the mob trial until tomorrow morning.
After Brooklyn federal prosecutors make their final remarks to the jury tomorrow morning, attorneys for Colombo soldier Dino "Little" Dino Saracino will present their closing statements followed by Gioeli's lawyers.
The timing has lead some experts and legal observers to speculate that Gioeli's health episode today was nothing short of a calculated ploy to buy his lawyers more time to prepare.
Perlmutter declined to comment on this theory after the hearing.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Gambino associate sinks global plea deal

It was an offer he could refuse.
A reputed Gambino crime family associate backed out of a plea deal today in a move that will force three co-defendants to go to trial.
John Brancaccio had agreed last week to take part in a "global" agreement to resolve the charges against him and four other alleged mobsters busted in last year's massive Mafia crackdown.
But Brancaccio changed his mind at the last minute in Manhattan federal court after prosecutors said he couldn't seek less than 15-plus years in the slammer for racketeering and other crimes.
Defense lawyer Robert Ray said Brancaccio wanted credit for more than six years he spent behind bars for three previous convictions for assault and drug dealing.
Brancaccio's abrupt decision came too late for co-defendant Sean Dunn, who tried in vain to make his guilty plea yesterday for dealing pot contingent on everyone else abiding by their agreement.
It also led the lawyer for co-defendant Todd LaBarca -- who was prepared to plead guilty today guilty in the 2002 execution-style murder of an alleged drug dealer -- to tell the judge: "I feel emasculated standing before your honor."
The busted global deal would not have included reputed former Gambino consigliere Joseph "Jo Jo" Corozzo, who has a pending appeal over the charges against him.

Guilty plea put off for Colombo's Ralph DeLeo

A Massachusetts man who authorities say was a leading member of New York's Colombo crime family won a two-week postponement of his scheduled guilty plea after his lawyer cited health concerns.

Ralph DeLeo had a change-of-plea hearing scheduled in U.S. District Court in Boston on Tuesday, when he was expected to plead guilty to a racketeering conspiracy charge.

DeLeo's lawyer, Tim Watkins, asked for a postponement, saying DeLeo's blood pressure was "very high" Tuesday. Watkins said the 68-year-old DeLeo has an ongoing problem with high blood pressure.

Judge Douglas Woodlock put off the hearing until May 8.

DeLeo, of Somerville, was indicted along with three others in Massachusetts in 2009. Prosecutors said he led a group known as the "DeLeo Crew" that sold cocaine and marijuana in Massachusetts, Rhode Island, New York, Florida and Arkansas.