A useful mob turncoat is supposed to be able to tell you where the bodies are buried and so far, sources tell Gang Land, Anthony (Bingy) Arillota is doing a heck of a job.
Arillota, the onetime mob boss of Springfield Massachusetts, became a federal cooperator just a few weeks ago. He has already led the feds straight to the secret last resting place of a local hood who has been missing since November 2003.
What are believed to be the mortal remains of Gary Westerman, a Springfield gangster, were found recently by teams of FBI agents after nearly five days of digging through Massachusetts mud using backhoes and other excavation equipment.
Westerman was killed just a few days before Arillotta engineered the rubout of capo Adolfo (Big Al) Bruno and took over the crime family's rackets in the Springfield area.
Sources say that bones and other evidence of the slain hoodlum were found a little more than a week ago right where Arillotta said they were - buried in a wooded area behind a friend's home off the beaten path in the town of Agawam - right across the Connecticut River from Springfield.
Arillota had good reason to recall exactly where Westerman, an ex-con, was planted: He was Bingy's former brother in law.
Sources say Westerman's killing was unrelated to the murder of Bruno, whose demise Arillotta supervised, allegedly for the family's New York honchos, including then-acting boss Arthur (Little Guy) Nigro.
Gang Land's sources declined to say whether Bingy was involved in the Westerman killing. They also would not say if it was related to a 1 AM incident several weeks before Westerman disappeared, when one or more gunmen riddled Arillotta's Springfield home with more than 20 bullets and shot up his car. Arillotta, his wife, two children and his mother were home at the time, but escaped injury.
The August 31, 2003 shooting echoed a famous scene in the Godfather saga in which Don Michael Corleone is the target. In Corleone's case, he gets plenty of revenge. It's not clear what Bingy did but that morning, Arillotta - as well as his wife and mother - were questioned about the shooting. They told police they did "not know who could have done it," according to a report by Springfield police officer David Franco.
That was in 2003 when he was still a standup guy. Not anymore.
The finding of Westerman's remains is an important milestone for Arillotta, as well as for FBI agents investigating the Bruno slaying and the long-established but murky links between the New York leaders and the Massachusetts faction of the Genovese crime family.
"He established his credibility with that," said one source.
As Gang Land disclosed two weeks ago, Arillotta, 41, was officially "released" from his digs at the Metropolitan Correctional Center in Manhattan on March 25 so he could be unofficially debriefed by FBI agents and prosecutors about wiseguys from New York to New England.
Meanwhile, the man who allegedly hired the actual gunman in the Bruno murder for Arillotta and had been scheduled for trial in Springfield this month, Fotios (Freddy) Geas, has finally arrived in New York, where he is now slated for trial with Nigro in November.
Because of crowded conditions at the Metropolitan Correctional Center in Manhattan, Geas, 42, and Nigro, 65, are both housed at the Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn these days as prosecutors decide whether to obtain retribution for Bruno by seeking the death penalty against them.
The legal reasons for seeking capital punishment in the case seem pretty tenuous, however, and Gang Land would not be surprised if the Manhattan U.S. Attorney's office decides to chuck that idea before too much time passes.
According to prosecutors Jonathan New and Mark Lanpher, Bruno was marked for death to prevent him from "providing information to law enforcement about crimes committed by members of the Genovese crime family" - a crime that is eligible for capital punishment.
But so far, there's been no evidence offered - or even any indication - that Bruno, 57, ever had any intention to do what his successor would end up doing. But the feds say that if they can prove that Nigro and Geas murdered him because they thought he might cooperate, the men would face execution. That's what the feds are currently considering.
It seems like a stretch. Bruno's reputation amongst his wiseguy peers was as a solid mob citizen. And even if Bingy were to testify that he heard that Bruno was thinking of flipping, it's hard to see a New York jury swallowing that tale from a onetime wiseguy who immediately took over Bruno's rackets right after he had him killed.