Anthony Arillotta of Springfield, guilty in 2003 murder of mob boss Al Bruno, due to be sentenced Wednesday in New York

By  Stephanie Barry


Anthony Arillotta of Springfield, guilty in 2003 murder of mob boss Al Bruno, due to be sentenced Wednesday in New York
Mob informant Anthony J. Arillotta set for sentencing March 20 in Al Bruno murder case
New York gangster John Bologna was FBI informant for nearly two decades in midst of the Al Bruno murder plot
Al Bruno shooter Frankie Roche sentenced to nearly 14 years in prison
Sentencing postponed for Frankie Roche for 2003 murder of Springfield mobster Al Bruno

   
 

SPRINGFIELD — Anthony J. Arillotta, once a marginal marijuana dealer here, is poised for sentencing Wednesday in New York City after being indicted four years ago for his admitted roles in two high-profile 2003 Western Massachusetts murders cases – those of late crime boss Adolfo “Big Al” Bruno and police informant and criminal associate Gary D. Westerman.

 Federal prosecutors at Manhattan’s U.S. District Court who have dealt with the likes of Sammy “The Bull” Gravano and other high-ranking La Cosa Nostra informants portray Arillotta as one for the books.

 Arillotta spent his entire adult life committing a “vast array” of crimes, beginning most conspicuously with moving large amounts of marijuana in the early 1990s, and graduating from violent assaults to becoming a ruthless killer for the New York-based Genovese crime family. The result: he leap-frogged in power over gangsters many years his age and status, masterminded a hit on Bruno, his mentor and onetime sponsor in the Genovese family, and casually placed large bounties on the heads of longtime friends.

“He will be the first to explain that he was a menace to the city of Springfield, and that he used violence, intimidation and his association with Organized Crime to terrorize the city and line his own pockets,” a pre-sentencing memo by the New York City prosecutors reads, before going on to describe him as “one of the most significant cooperating witnesses against the Genovese Crime Family ever.”

Not bad for a diminutive kid nicknamed “the little guy” from the South End of Springfield, whose parents ran a produce shop. Consequently, defense lawyer Thomas Butters, of Boston, has asked U.S. District Judge P. Kevin Castel to sentence Arillotta to five years in prison for two murders, three failed murder plots, drug-trafficking, racketeering, extortion and illegal firearms possession. Butters has refused repeated requests for comment.

 The practical outcome is Arillotta could walk out to a new life or a halfway house immediately after sentencing, given his time behind bars and “good time” standards under federal laws which shave months of each year served in prison. He has entered the U.S. Witness Security Program.

Al Bruno Murder Case01.28.2008 | Republican file photo | Anthony J. Arillotta is seen is Hampden Supeior Court during his extortion conspiracy trial.

Arillotta led a group of local thugs who paid Frankie Roche, a violent hanger-on, $10,000 to fatally shoot Bruno “cowboy style” in the parking lot of Our Lady of Mount Carmel Society in Springfield on Nov. 23, 2003 – the eve of his 58th birthday. Bruno had enjoyed a long reign as a seemingly charming, powerful, old-school Capo who wore Hawaiian shirts, smoked oversized cigars and narrowly evaded a murder rap in the 1990s.

 Arillotta’s most feared enforcers were Fotios and Ty Geas, brothers from West Springfield with violent histories who met Roche in state prison. They have since been sentenced to life in prison for the Bruno and Westerman murders, thanks to Arillotta’s testimony in their 2011 trial.

 Arillotta, 47, had racked up a string of convictions by the time he was arrested for the Bruno murder in 2010 and began serving a three-year, joint federal and state prison sentences for unrelated loan sharking and illegal gambling offenses in 2005. But, the true centerpieces of Arillotta’s criminal tear had yet to be revealed publicly.

 He used his close relationship with Bruno as a stepping stone to exposure to more powerful New York gangsters, including Arthur “Artie” Nigro, the onetime acting boss of the Genovese crime family. Arillotta cozied up to John Bologna, another New York gangster and trusted confidante of Nigro, who was ultimately charged in the Bruno murder and was exposed as a longtime FBI informant as he continued to commit crimes.

 Nigro was ultimately sentenced to life in prison for the Bruno murder along with the Geases, once again, in large part based on Arillotta’s testimony.

 Arillotta testified that Nigro gave the order to kill Bruno based on a long-standing beef over a cigarette smuggling deal gone awry and on the belief that Bruno had spoken about the status of other gangsters to an FBI agent. In that mix was convicted racketeer Emilio Fusco, acquitted of the Bruno and Westerman murders but nonetheless sentenced to 25 years in prison after a trial in 2012. Arillotta also was the premier witness in that trial. Fusco was said to have discovered a reference to Bruno speaking to an investigator during a chance meeting at a pizza shop in 2001, confirming Fusco had been “made.”

Arillotta, the Geases, Fusco and another seasoned gangster from Western Massachusetts, Felix Tranghese, decided to bring the court document with the reference to Nigro and his cohorts to New York City in 2003. Bruno was never found to be an FBI informant, but the plot to kill him was launched.

 Weeks before Bruno was killed, Westerman’s time had run out as far as his associates were concerned. He was a rival, Arillotta’s brother-in-law and a confirmed state police informant.

 According to testimony at both trials, the Geases lured Westerman to a home in Agawam with the promise of a lucrative home invasion. Fotios Geas shot Westerman as Arillotta and Fusco allegedly waited in the garage of the home, flanked by woods and a utility company.