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

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Defense lawyer needles Mafia turncoat Anthony Arillotta about broken oaths at Al Bruno murder trial

A defense lawyer for one of three men accused of being Mafia killers needled the prosecution's star witness, Anthony J. Arillotta, about a growing list of broken oaths during cross-examination on an ongoing mob murder trial in lower Manhattan.
On trial for the 2003 Springfield, Mass., murder of former Genovese crime boss Adolfo "Big Al" Bruno and other crimes are Arillotta's onetime alleged hit men Fotios "Freddy" Geas, of West Springfield, brother Ty Geas, of Westfield, and reputed New York Genovese crime family acting boss Arthur "Artie" Nigro.
Arillotta, 42, of Springfield, testified over three days about Bruno's murder and how he helped in the shooting and bludgeoning death of his brother-in-law, Gary D. Westerman, who was buried in an eight-foot grave in Agawam, Mass., that Arillotta dug months before for another mob hit that never happened.
Frederick Cohn, a defense lawyer for Freddy Geas, was the second defense lawyer to take a crack at Arillotta on the witness stand on Tuesday, with a third attorney still poised to try to erode Arillotta's credibility with jurors.

"You have taken at least three important oaths, Mr. Arillotta?" Cohn asked, citing his oath of silence to the Mafia when he was "made" in a secret ceremony in the Bronx in 2003 after carrying out the attempted murder of union boss Frank Dadabo. "Can you repeat that to us?"
Arillotta readily admitted he swore allegiance to the Genovese crime family and imperiled his own life and that of his wife and three children by turning informant, plus conceding he broke his oath to his soon-to-be-divorced wife.
"You violated that oath, right? And you took an oath to tell the truth in this court," Cohn said, leaving the obvious conclusion dangling.
During direct examination by Assistant U.S. Attorney Mark D. Lanpher, Arillotta coolly recounted his "life of crimes." He came across as a onetime budding mob mastermind who once threatened the owner of a gambling machine business Arillotta was hoping to extort, saying that the the owner would be "runned over 85 time with a car" if he didn't comply.
Cohn also attempted to distance his client from the inner circle of the New York mob, which Arillotta previously testified he and the Geases were part of through Nigro.
"He was not a made guy, and there was no possibility he ever would be because he's Greek, right?" Cohn asked Arillotta.
"Correct," Arillotta answered.
Cohn also offered into evidence a tape-recorded conversation between Nigro's former right hand, New York gangster John Bologna, who was an FBI informant for years, court records show. It is unclear if he was an active informant while orchestrating Bruno's murder and a list of other crimes.
Bologna, who had been a dormant informant before being revived to reel in Arillotta in 2008, wore a wire on Arillotta in October of that year. The two discussed a then-pending federal case against Freddy Geas, who was originally charged alone with the Bruno murder in federal court in Springfield. The case was transferred to New York with new charges and new defendants last year.
The conversation focused on Geas' chances at acquittal and featured Arillotta as a skeptical participant during a meeting at a Friendly's restaurant in Lee, Mass.:
Bologna: "It's just, things gotta get cleared up a little bit."
Arillotta: "It's gotta get cleared up a lot, cuz ... Freddy's gonna beat this case, cuz that other kid ..." he said, referring to Bruno's admitted shooter, Frankie A. Roche, who pleaded guilty to shooting Bruno at the behest of Arillotta, Geas and others.
Arillotta: "I mean ... this kid is a liar, this kid. He had a personal beef with (Bruno) ... He even said he shot him ... that came right out in the newspaper. You understand, this kid is just one of them nuts that acted like a, an idiot, you know and um, did something stupid."
Roche indisputably wrecked a bar in Springfield's South End in which Bruno had an interest, whether financially or through a friend. Bruno demanded Roche pay restitution, which he resisted. Roche admitted threatening to kill Bruno over the dispute the night before gunning him down in a parking lot on Nov. 23, 2003.
When Roche pleaded guilty to murder in 2007, he said he was paid close to $10,000 by Freddy Geas to kill Bruno amid a power play by Arillotta and other local mobsters. Arillotta has corroborated the general outline of that story on the witness stand, testifying that Freddy Geas met Roche in prison and called in his "crash dummy" when other attempts to set Bruno up for a hit failed.
Roche, formerly of Westfield, Mass., is scheduled to testify in U.S. District Court this week. The trial is expected to last at least through early April. The defendants face life in prison if convicted.
Bologna, Roche and Arillotta are now all fellow members of the federal Witness Protection Program. Bologna is not expected to testify at trial.



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