A federal judge emphatically denied a motion by mobster Emilio Fusco to be released on bail as he awaits trial on racketeering charges that include the 2003 murders of mob boss Adolfo “Big Al” Bruno and another organized crime associate in Western Massachusetts.
Emilio Fusco, 42, of Longmeadow, Mass., moved to be released from prison and placed on house arrest while he also is appealing an extradition order by a judge in his native Italy that saw him transferred to the United States in May. Fusco was arrested in Italy in July 2009 after being indicted in a Manhattan court along with other local gangsters and the onetime acting boss of the Genovese crime family.
Mob enforcers Fotios and Ty Geas, of West Springfield, Mass., and Westfield, Mass., respectively, and then-capo Arthur “Artie” Nigro, of Bronx, N.Y., went to trial on essentially the same charges in March, were convicted by a jury and face mandatory life sentences. Fusco, on the other hand, fought extradition from Italy after the charges were brought, was excluded from that trial and is now scheduled to be tried alone in U.S. District Court in March 2012.
U.S. District Judge P. Kevin Castel told the attorneys the bail argument wasn’t even a close call.
“While on bail and on electronic monitoring, Mr. Fusco participated in two murders,” Castel said, drawing from the evidence and testimony in the March 2011 trial. Fusco had been released on bail on a 2000 racketeering charge.
Castel said he wasn’t going to let Fusco “learn from past mistakes” and get out on bail simply to flee to another country with no extradition treaty with the United States.
Prosecutors successfully argued to Castel that Fusco fled after news reports began circulating that former mob soldier Anthony J. Arillotta, of Springfield, had joined ranks with the government shortly after his arrest last year and led them to the body of Gary Westerman, a Bruno associate who disappeared three weeks after Bruno was murdered.
The FBI and Massachusetts State Police descended on a wooded lot in Agawam, Mass., in April 2010, recovering Westerman’s remains. Arillotta testified at the Geases’ trial in March 2011 that he, the Geases and Fusco teamed up to shoot and bludgeon Westerman, Arillotta’s brother-in-law, and then bury him in the woods.
They correctly believed Westerman was a police informant and Fusco allegedly was recruited to aid in the killing just three weeks after Bruno was gunned down outside his regular Sunday night card game at an Italian social club. Witnesses said Bruno was killed because Fusco began circulating a court record from a loan-sharking case (to which he pleaded guilty and was sentenced to prison) confirming Bruno had spoken to an FBI agent about Fusco’s status in the Mafia.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Nicholas McQuaid told Castel that the theoretical arguments prosecutors usually make urging pretrial detainment of organized crime figures who could pose a threat to witnesses against them is a foregone conclusion in Fusco’s case.
“There’s no need to go there. He’s guilty. He’s killed people for these things,” McQuaid said during a lengthy hearing on Tuesday.
Fusco has denied all allegations; his lawyer argued that he had traveled to Italy to attend his sister’s 50th birthday party and to other family and business matters.
Defense lawyer William I. Aronwald told Castel that Fusco flew out on April 13, 2010, three days before his sister’s birthday but admittedly amid widespread media reports of the Westerman dig. Aronwald contended his return was delayed by his mother’s poor health, an Icelandic volcanic eruption and buisiness negotiations over a tire recycling contract back in the states.
“(The government) has not presented one witness who said Emilio Fusco said he was leaving the country because he knows the jig was up and he was about to be indicted,” Aronwald argued, adding that he routinely traveled to see his mother and siblings in Italy but has a wife, three children, a home and had a Dumpster business in Western Massachusetts.
Fusco became a naturalized citizen in 1996 after immigrating to this country in 1991 and later marrying. At issue in Italy was whether Fusco would face the death penalty and whether he was technically charged with murder. That country opposes extradition of its citizens under those circumstances, according to Aronwald. Because the structure of Fusco’s indictment on the murder counts is murky, Fusco is appealing the extradition order, his lawyer said.
This article was written by Stephanie Barry and published by MassLive.com on July 26, 2011.
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