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

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Police mum on victim's possible mob ties

Danbury police refused to say Monday whether they are pursuing an organized crime angle in the murder of 43-year-old Mario Imbesi, who was bludgeoned to death in his Farview Avenue apartment last week.
But court documents made public during a federal court trial in Massachusetts in 2010 name Imbesi as a grand jury witness who gave testimony against Frank Roche, the hitman who gunned down Genovese crime family boss Aldo Bruno on a Springfield street in 2003.
Imbesi's name also appeared in discovery documents the government furnished to the defense in the case of Arthur , the family's former acting boss, and two other men, who are currently serving life sentences after being convicted last year of a variety of racketeering crimes, including hiring Roche to kill Bruno.
A law enforcement source confirmed Tuesday that the homicide victim and the man named in court documents are the same person.
Imbesi didn't testify during that trial, according to an attorney familiar with the cases.
Danbury police have so far remained tight-lipped about the investigation, which began when they were summoned to the Farview Terrace condominium complex just before 12:40 p.m. on Friday. Imbesi was pronounced dead at the scene, and an autopsy conducted by the state medical examiner on Monday determined that he died from a blow to the head.
Danbury Police Chief Al Baker declined to discuss the investigation Tuesday and wouldn't comment on a possible organized crime connection.
Neither would Danbury State's Attorney Stephen Sedensky.
"It's under investigation, and we're certainly looking at all avenues that may present themselves," Sedensky said.
None of the other residents at the 18-unit complex who were interviewed by The News-Times after the body was found claimed to know Imbesi well.
One neighbor said Imbesi had lived in a second-floor unit he rented from the owner for about three years. A record check also revealed addresses for Imbesi in Greenwich, and police said he was from Port Chester, N.Y. when they released his identity late Monday.
Members of Imbesi's family in Port Chester also refused to discuss the case .
"Danbury police are conducting an investigation and the family has no comment at this time," said Albert Schnell, who is the husband of Imbesi's sister, Emilia, and is acting as the family's spokesman.
Schnell said that the family was "devastated" by the news of Imbesi's death, but declined to comment further.
Even the court documents that were made public during the U.S. District Court trial in Massachusetts for Fotios "Freddy" Geas, who the government claimed was acting for Genovese crime family hierarchy when he hired Roche to kill Bruno, provide little information on Imbesi's possible mob connections.
But grand jury testimony and FBI reports obtained by Geas' defense lawyer show that Imbesi testified as a government witness before the grand jury that accused Roche, an ex-con that Geas met in prison and at one point referred to as a "crash dummy," of gunning down Bruno as he left a late-night card game in 2003.
Before the killing, court documents show that Roche had a run-in with the owner of a local bar, who had ties to Bruno. Afterward, according to court documents, Roche showed up with a baseball bat and demolished the interior, drawing the capo's ire.
In his testimony, Imbesi described Roche's response as defiant and brazen.
"Frank's attitude at the time was, you know, he was above and beyond everybody else. So he said: `He's looking for me? OK, so I went and found (Bruno)'," Imbesi testified, according to court records.
Imbesi also helped harbor Roche in New York and Florida after the hitman fled the state following the killing, according to The Republican newspaper in Springfield, Mass.
The newspaper also reported that Roche and his family were placed in the federal witness protection program after he turned government witness prior to Gaes' trial.
Gaes, his brother, Ty, and Nigro, the former acting boss, were subsequently convicted for their roles in the slaying, and each sentenced to life imprisonment.
A fourth defendant, Emilio Fusco, fled the country and was later extradited from Italy. His trial is scheduled to begin in Manhattan federal court next month.
Fusco's former attorney, William Aronwald, said Tuesday he had not planned to call Imbesi as a witness, but he didn't know what Fusco's current lawyer, Richard Lind, intended to do.
Lind couldn't be reached for comment on Tuesday. It could not be determined Tuesday whether Imbesi would have been a government witness.


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