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The Bruno Hit: How the Genovese Springfield Crew Killed Itself


By David Amoruso

It seemed like a perfect plan. Take out a powerful mob captain that is thought to be an informant for the FBI and better your own position within the crime family. Of course, even a perfect plan can go bad very fast. Eight years after the brazen murder of Genovese capo Adolfo Bruno all those involved wished they had never embarked on the execution of their grand plan to seize control of the rackets in Springfield, Massachusetts.

Adolfo Bruno was born on November 24, 1945 in the small town of Bracigliano in the Campania region of Italy and moved to Springfield when he was 10 years old. In 1976 his name pops up for the first time when he is listed among a group of indicted bookmakers and mobsters. By the 1980s, authorities say he is second-in-command to regional Genovese boss Francesco Scibelli. In the years that follow, Bruno has several confrontations with the law. In 1987 he is sentenced to five years after being convicted of gaming offences and other crimes. And in 1996 both Bruno and his boss Scibelli are sentenced to fifteen months in prison for crossing state lines into Connecticut for the purpose of illegal gambling.

After this latest stretch in prison Bruno’s rise within the Springfield branch of the Genovese Crime Family seems to have come to a sudden standstill, because when Scibelli steps down he is passed over and Anthony Delevo is made the new leader. Masslive.com reports that in 2003 “a crackdown on organized crime in Greater Springfield results in more than a dozen guilty pleas, but Bruno is not among those indicted. Delevo is eventually sentenced to three years in prison for his part in the racketeering ring.” With Delevo in prison, Bruno finally assumes the number one spot and becomes the leader of the Springfield crew.

But he didn’t get to enjoy it for long. And the interesting thing is that he knew all along. On February 12, 2002, an FBI agent knocked on Bruno’s door and told him there was information about a threat on his life (see photo below). In the period that followed, Bruno did not seem to increase his protection, he was still walking the streets by himself without any bodyguards.

On November 23, 2003, one day before his 58th birthday, Bruno exits Our Lady of Mount Carmel Society, a social club in Springfield’s South End, after enjoying his regular Sunday night card game. Outside, a hitman is waiting for him and emerges pointing a .45-caliber pistol straight at him. The gunman fires a shot that hits Bruno in the chest. As his victim falls down, the assassin fires three or four more shots. He then walks up to the heavily wounded mob boss, stands over him, looks down and fires one final shot.

The man who took the dead king’s place was Genovese soldier Anthony Arillotta. It is no surprise then that Arillotta had arranged the hit as well. In the mob it is usually the new boss who is behind the violent death of his predecessor. This case was a good example. Arillotta had passed on the order for the hit to two hot headed brothers named Fotios and Ty Geas. They, in turn, hired small time crook turned hitman Frank Roche, who showed no fear or hesitation as he committed the murder of Bruno.

The whole thing had gone perfectly. Arillotta and his crew had even gotten the ‘ok’ from higher ups within the Genovese Crime Family. A year before the hit, Felix Tranghese, a member of Bruno’s crew, had traveled to New York with a copy of a presentencing report for another gangster on his way to jail that alleged Bruno told an FBI agent someone had “been made” in 2001. It was a big mistake on Bruno’s part and one which the Genovese Family had no interest in checking its accuracy. Where there’s smoke there is fire and they had all the proof they needed. During a meeting with Genovese Acting Boss Arthur Nigro (photo right), Tranghese was told to take care of Bruno and make sure that no body was found.

Obviously things didn’t go exactly as Nigro had ordered, with Bruno being killed out in the open, but a possible mob informant had been taken out of the equation and that was all that mattered. Until the “dead and possible” mob informant was replaced with several definite mob informants that were alive and well. And as you probably have guessed by reading the paragraph above, in the years following Bruno’s murder many gangsters decided to throw in the towel and spill the beans about the hit and many other mob crimes.
First to join Team America was hitman Frank Roche, who fingered the Geas brothers as the men who gave him the order and paid him $8,000 dollars for his job well done. Genovese mobster Felix Tranghese had fallen out of favor with the new crew run by Arillotta and was quick to testify against his former colleagues, including acting boss Arthur Nigro in New York.

The new king of the Springfield mob, Anthony Arillotta, apparently had lost his strong belief in the code of silence as well. When Bruno had dropped a few words to an FBI agent, omerta was the most important thing in the world and the reason why Bruno had to go. Now, it was just a silly rule that did not apply to any of the mobsters. While Genovese associates Ty and Fotios Geas and acting boss Arthur Nigro sat in court as defendants, they faced those that had played the biggest roles in the murder of the Springfield capo. And they didn’t stand a chance.

On April 1, 2011, seven-and-a-half years after Bruno was gunned down and after a trial that lasted three weeks, a jury found Genovese leader Arthur Nigro and associates Fotios and Ty Geas guilty of murder, attempted murder, murder conspiracy, and racketeering. Nigro was convicted of ordering the Bruno hit “in order to increase his power and position in the Genovese Family, and to punish Bruno for having spoken with the FBI.” All three men face mandatory sentences of life in prison. Sentencing has been scheduled for June 23, 2011.

With most of the Genovese Springfield crew either dead, in prison, or in witness protection it is safe to say they are now quite vulnerable for a hostile takeover. Whether the Springfield branch of the Genovese Family is now extinct will have to be reviewed at a later date, but with so many important players taken off the streets it seems to be a safe bet that this is indeed the case. A very safe bet. But still, never count out La Cosa Nostra as they are a group that will not go down easily.

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