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

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Turncoat Genovese mobster declines witness protection and returns to old haunts after prison release


It is an audacious homecoming.

Despite attempting to keep his release from prison and the federal Witness Security Program relatively quiet, local sightings of Anthony Arillotta, the brash Mafia killer turned government witness, have begun to stack up nonetheless.

Sources familiar with Arillotta's release after he wrapped up an eight-year prison sentence and opted out of witness protection have said he landed back in the area just before May 1.

Arillotta, 48, of Springfield, was the federal government's star witness in two separate mob murder trials in New York City in 2011 and 2012. He began cooperating with law enforcement shortly after his 2010 arrest, according to court filings and testimony.

Arillotta himself in 2010 pleaded guilty to the murders of former mentor Adolfo "Big Al" Bruno and his former brother-in-law, Gary Westerman, plus the attempted murder of a New York union boss -- all in 2003. Arillotta also admitted to a litany of other crimes since his beginnings with the "Springfield Crew" of the New York-based Genovese crime family including drug dealing, extortion and illegal weapons possession.

He escaped a mandatory life sentence in exchange for his cooperation, which, prosecutors wrote in a presentence memo, was a practical matter.

"Arillotta indicated that he wanted 'out of the life' and recognized that, if he was going to cooperate, the earlier the better," wrote a federal prosecutor after lauding Arillotta as an "extraordinary" witness who was candid about everything from mob killings to his own private life.

Arillotta's cooperation led law enforcement investigators to Westerman's remains buried in a wooded lot in Agawam, where Arillotta and three others killed him and covered his body in dirt seven years earlier.

Two of his co-defendants, Freddy and Ty Geas, of West Springfield, are serving life sentences. A third, Emilio Fusco, of Longmeadow, will be in prison until 2032. Arillotta implicated them all, plus onetime acting Genovese boss Arthur "Artie" Nigro in the murder conspiracy of Bruno. He told jurors he and the three local men conspired to shoot and bludgeon Westerman to death.

A father of three, Arillotta expressed regret that he may endanger his children and remorse over selling out his closest friends, federal prosecutors have said.

"Arillotta appeared to take no pleasure from cooperating against people he claimed as some of his closest friends. Indeed, on the first day Arillotta began to proffer, he offered to reach out to (Freddy) and Ty Geas to try to convince them to cooperate too (as he thought that they would be willing to do so if he so urged them). The Government instructed him not to make any such efforts," a prosecutor wrote.

"But Arillotta thereafter repeatedly expressed disappointment at the fact that his former friends -- the Geases in particular -- were not pleading guilty because he did not want to see them spend the rest of their lives in jail," the attorney added.

Arillotta, now divorced and staying with family members in Springfield, has rebuffed requests for an interview. It is unclear what career path he may pursue, given that his entire adult life was devoted to being a criminal, prosecutors also noted in their report.

On the upside, he was a patient, conscientious and honest witness, they added.

Flying in the face of historical beliefs about Mafia rules, Arillotta is not the first high-profile mob informant to serve out a prison sentence in protective custody then leave witness protection to come home to Greater Springfield.

Felix Tranghese, 64, joined Arillotta on the witness stand at both New York trials, testifying about his own role in the Bruno murder conspiracy.

Bruno was shot on Nov. 23, 2003 as he left his regular Sunday night card game at the Mount Carmel Society social club in the city's South End. A paid hit man, Frankie Roche, is serving out a nearly 14-year sentence, also in witness protection. Roche was part of the government's line-up at trial also.

For Tranghese's part, he was sentenced to four years in prison, and resumed a quiet life with his family in East Longmeadow after his release in 2014.

Sources say Arillotta's former minders in law enforcement urged him not to return to the area as there are a number of potential threats to his safety ranging from Genovese loyalists to embittered family members of his victims and co-defendants.

Bruno's son, Victor Bruno, filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Arillotta in 2014, but Arillotta opposed it from prison. The suit was later dismissed because the statute of limitations had run out. Victor Bruno later appealed that decision to the Supreme Judicial Court but that, too, was dismissed.

Arillotta's own attorneys recognized the prospective risks if he chose to resurface in his hometown.

"He will face considerable risk should he ever return to Springfield ... He will have to live in the future looking over his shoulder as a result of his decision to cooperate," they wrote in one of the last filings in Arillotta's case.



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