By Stephanie Kraft
It could have been Dodge City, not Springfield, when mafioso Adolfo “Big Al” Bruno was gunned down in the parking lot at the Mt. Carmel Social Club in the South End late in 2003. The redoubtable gangster who engaged in loansharking and other illegitimate activities in the Springfield and Hartford area was actually blown away by Frankie Roche, who was sentenced to 13 years and nine months in prison for the killing, but the shooting was organized by Anthony Arillotta, according to federal prosecutors in New York. New York is the locus of the proceedings because Bruno, Arillotta and the others involved were members of the New York Genovese crime family.
Last week Arillotta was sentenced to 99 months in federal prison for his role in Bruno’s murder, the murder of another Springfield organized crime figure, Gary Westerman, and the attempted murder of a New York union boss, Frank Dadabo. The sentence was extremely short given prosecutors’ statements that Arillotta “spent his entire adult life until his arrest in February 2010 committing a vast assortment of crimes, many of them violent. 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 with money from his various criminal activities.” Arillotta pleaded guilty to loansharking, extortion, illegal gambling, narcotics trafficking and possession of illegal weapons such as machine guns, as well as arranging the Bruno shooting.
But according to federal investigators, Arillotta’s cooperation with investigations of other murders and of the operations run by organized crime in the Springfield area had enabled cold cases to be solved and given law enforcement a wealth of indispensable information.
Court documents provide salient though fragmentary information about the influence of organized crime on Springfield. At one point early in the millennium, according to court documents, “Arillotta and others began to extort (or increase their take from) numerous bars and restaurants, including most prominently the Mardi Gras strip club, owned by James Santaniello.”
Late in August, 2003, prosecutors say, “Arillotta and his crew were involved in a violent altercation—including several gun shots—outside the Civic Pub in Springfield, Massachusetts. Two nights after that altercation, Arillotta’s house was shot 20 times while his wife and children were home.” It was in November of that year that Arillotta, acting on orders from Genovese bosses in New York who believed Bruno had given information about their activities to the FBI, assigned Roche to kill Bruno.
The following year, prosecutors allege, Arillotta “continued to deal marijuana, engage in loansharking and extortion activities, and operate an illegal sports betting business.” Under orders from New York, they charge, “Arillotta increased the extortions of individuals in the vending machine business in Springfield, including James Santaniello and Carlo and Genaro Sarno. Arillotta began receiving (by implicit threat of force) $12,000 per month from Santaniello, and $1,000 per month from the Sarnos in extortion payments.”
Arillotta was in prison from 2005 to 2008 for loansharking and running an illegal gambling business, and was arrested again in 2010 on charges related to the offenses for which he has now been sentenced. He quickly offered to cooperate and is now in the Witness Security Program.
The day before the sentencing, Victor Bruno, son of Al Bruno and administrator of his father’s estate, filed a wrongful death suit in Hampden Superior Court for “$25,000+” against Arillotta for his role in his father’s murder. Bruno, who called Arillotta “an ineffective and sloppy boss,” asked the court to send him to prison for life.•