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

Monday, September 24, 2012

Genovese mobster to be sentenced next month for racketeering

Convicted Genovese crime family gangster Emilio Fusco has failed in an effort to all but clear the decks on a split verdict rendered in May after a three-week trial in federal court in New York City.
Fusco, 43, dodged two murder convictions – the 2003 gangland murders in Western Massachusetts of Adolfo “Big Al” Bruno”; and lower-level associate Gary D. Westerman – but was found guilty of other charges, including racketeering, extortion and marijuana distribution conspiracies and interstate travel in aid of racketeering.
While escaping murder convictions was a major coup for Fusco, particularly in a legal district that routinely racks up guilty verdicts, Fusco still faces a maximum of 45 years in prison at his sentencing in U.S. District Court in Manhattan on Oct. 10.
The judge issued his ruling on Sept. 17.
Fusco’s was the second case to go to trial as a result of the intense investigation into the Bruno and Westerman murders. Witnesses at two federal court trials attributed the pair’s gruesome deaths to a power play by a group of young upstarts in the organized crime regional rackets, intent on wresting power from the old guard which included Bruno.
Bruno was gunned down by a paid hitman in the parking lot of Our Lady of Mount Carmel Society on Main Street in the South End neighborhood on Nov. 23, 2003 as he left a weekly card game; Westerman, 48, had disappeared three weeks earlier.
Key witnesses at a 2011 trial, including two so-called “made men” in the Genovese family from this region, testified that a plot to kill Bruno simmered when his underlings suspected him a weak leader and a U.S. Justice Department document outed him as chatting up an FBI agent. Westerman was a longtime rival of those in the inner circle of Anthony J. Arillotta, Bruno’s surreptitious successor.
As a government witness Arillotta testified that he was “made,” or sanctioned as a protected member of the Mafia, by then-boss Arthur “Artie” Nigro, of the Bronx, N.Y., in a secret ceremony in 2003. He testified he was made to strip his clothes and pledge his allegiance to the “family.” Arillotta also testified that he told few people of his new status when he returned to Greater Springfield.
Arillotta broke the Mafia pledge when he entered the U.S. Witness Protection Program after his arrest in 2010 and testified against his former cohorts in two trials.
Onetime associates Fotios “Freddy” and Ty Geas, once of West Springfield, were convicted of murder in 2011, along with Nigro. Fusco, who had fled to his native Italy during the investigation, was tried a year later after being apprehended in a small village in southern Italy later that year.
During Fusco’s trial, Arillotta testified that he and Fusco spearheaded Bruno’s murder plot and they participated directly with the Geases in shooting and bludgeoning Westerman to death before burying his body in a wooded lot in Agawam.
“We ‘salud’ed’ (Italian toast) with cognac.” Arillotta testified in mid-April at Fusco’s trial. “It was like a gesture that we had just accomplished something. We were like brothers.”
While jurors sent the Geases and Nigro away for life, a separate panel cleared Fusco of the murder charges, and defense lawyer Richard B. Lind filed a motion to vacate the remaining convictions but for the racketeering conspiracy charge. Lind argued the evidence was insufficient and inconsistent with the acquittals. However, U.S. District Judge P. Kevin Castel said Fusco’s jury met the standard of reasonable doubt.
“He did not want to send any of the money down to New York,” Castel quoted from Arillotta’s testimony at the Fusco trial. “He wanted to keep all the money in Springfield.”
Arillotta told jurors about a strand where to two were serving adjacent prison sentences for separate criminal charges and trying to keep a lid on their profits, sending emissaries to separate prisons to discuss meting out the spoils.
Also scheduled for sentencing are cooperating witnesses Felix Tranghese, of East Longmeadow, and John Bologna, of New York, an FBI informant who ultimately admitted participating in Bruno’s murder plot. It is unclear if he was an active informant at that time. 



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