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

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Genovese gangster beats two murder charges but found guilty of racketeering

After a two-week trial and two days of jury deliberations in federal court in Manhattan, Emilio Fusco, of Longmeadow, was acquitted of the 2003 Western Massachusetts murders of crime boss Adolfo "Big Al" Bruno and low-level associate Gary Westerman.
Jurors convicted Fusco, 43, of racketeering conspiracy, conspiracy to distribute marijuana, conspiracy to commit extortion, and interstate travel in aid of racketeering. However, the panel cleared him of involvement in the murders, direct participation in a shakedown of Springfield strip club owner James Santaniello, and a a direct role in other extortion schemes prosecution witnesses testified about.
Prosecutors argued Fusco was a made member of the New York-based Genovese crime family who played key roles in murder plots, drug deals, loan-sharking, illegal gaming and other mob-related schemes as he made his way up the ladder in the so-called Springfield Crew of the Genovese family after emigrating there from Italy in the 1990s. Government witnesses including onetime soldier Anthony Arillotta offered testimony against Fusco including that he spearheaded a movement to kill Bruno in 2003 and helped bludgeon Westerman to death the same year.
Jurors were apparently not entirely convinced by Arillotta and other prosecution witnesses who ushered in convictions for three other defendants on parallel charges in the same courtroom last year. Former Arillotta henchmen Fotios "Freddy" Geas and his brother Ty Geas, of West Springfield, were convicted of the Bruno and Westerman murders and an array of other crimes along with onetime acting Genovese boss Arthur "Artie" Nigro, of Bronx, NY, and are serving life sentences.

In that case, the government successfully convinced jurors that a power shift in the Springfield mob sparked a spike in violence, more aggressive shakedowns of business owners and culminated in public shoot-outs and the Bruno and Westerman murders. The investigations into the slayings had stagnated somewhat until Arillotta was arrested in connection with the case and led investigators to Westerman's remains in a wooded lot in Agawam, Mass nearly seven years after Westerman was was killed.
Arilotta testified that he, the Geases and Fusco conspired to kill Bruno and that Fusco helped bury Westerman's remains after the men killed him.
Fusco was tried separately because he had traveled to Italy when the indictment against him was unsealed in 2010. Prosecutors argued he fled, since he was arrested as a fugitive there in July of that year. Defense lawyer Richard B. Lind countered that Fusco was there on family business and not to avoid prosecution.
Fusco embraced defense lawyer Richard B. Lind as jurors delivered their verdict late on Wednesday. The panel's decision unfolded in painfully slow fashion after it reported to U.S. District Judge P. Kevin Castel at 3:30 that they had reached unanimous verdicts but were deadlocked on a sentencing enhancement question with regard to the Bruno murder. The quirky, partial verdict sent lawyers for the government scrambling to confer with supervisors and Lind to consult defense colleagues. After 90 minutes of wrangling, lawyers agreed to let jurors return a partial verdict and continue to deliberate on the underlying question at 5 p.m.
However, after jurors trudged back to the deliberation room, Castel pressed the government on the sentencing enhancement issue, and prosecutors ultimately decided to figuratively take a knee on the issue and release the jury in the morning.
Fusco's wife, Jenny Santos-Fusco, attended much of the trial with the couple's two sons and was moved to tears after the verdict.
"I don't have the words. This was the right thing. He's a good man," she said.
Lind declined to comment extensively on the case, but said: "I'm thrilled," conceding that acquittals are rare in federal court.
Though Fusco could conceivably still face 45 years in prison by adding up the statutory maximums of his convictions, it is likelier he will get a far lesser sentence. The murder acquittals represented a huge victory for the defendant in context, as he vehemently denied involvement in the schemes from the start and faced life sentences in connection, if convicted.
Jurors are scheduled to return to court Thursday morning, only to be immediately discharged.



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