Feds Hold Genovese's Springfield Chief Indefinitely in Brooklyn

Five reputed members of the Genovese crime family's "Springfield Crew" were arrested in August as part of the "East Coast LCN Enterprise" case that alleges wide-ranging Mafia-related activity in New York, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania and Florida (and New Jersey, supposedly).

Four of the five Springfield Crew members have been released on bail; the one Genovese associate still being held is Ralph Santaniello, 49. Believed to be running the Springfield Crew for the Genovese crime family, he was transported in October to New York City for a hearing that is not slated to occur anytime soon. He is the only mobster arrested in August who wasn't granted bail. Others being held were already imprisoned when the indictment came down.

Ralph Santaniello is the reputed boss of the Genovese crime family's Springfield Crew
Why is Ralph Santaniello still being held in Brooklyn?

Santaniello is running Springfield reportedly with the backing of his father, Amedeo Santaniello, a longtime Springfield mobster and a former confidante of Genovese boss Adolfo "Big Al" Bruno, now deceased.  Also backing the younger Santaniello is longtime area tough guy Albert Calvanese, a convicted loan shark who, like Santaniello, the father, is not charged in the "East Coast LCN Syndicate" case.

A Massachusetts court hearing regarding Santaniello's pretrial release was postponed while the defendant remains cooling his heels, apparently forgotten, in a Brooklyn jailhouse, Mass.Live.com reported Friday.

The four other members of the Genovese crime family's Springfield Crew who were arrested are Giovanni "Johnny Cal" Calabrese, 53; and Gerald Daniele, 51, both from Longmeadow; Francesco "Frank" Depergola, 60, from Springfield; and Richard Valentini, 51, from East Longmeadow.

All five have pleaded not guilty.

"Frank" Depergola arrested this past August.

At an Aug. 11th detention hearing in federal court in Springfield, U.S. District Court Magistrate Judge Katherine Robertson initially suspended bail for all five. Then on Aug. 16, she allowed the four out, holding Santaniello, who faces gambling, loansharking and extortion-related charges.

Robertson set Calabrese's bail at $100,000; both Daniele and Valentini were released on $50,000 and $25,000, respectively. All three defendants also must submit to GPS tracking, as well as avoid making contact with victims and witnesses; they all must also surrender any guns.

Santaniello's "Casual Brutality"
Santaniello and Calabrese were taped on surveillance threatening a towing company owner at his Hampden home in an effort to prompt him to pay up $50,000.

Apparently, he'd paid that amount to former Genovese boss Adolfo "Big Al" Bruno, but stopped paying tribute after Bruno's 2003 murder.

The towing company owner, described as "Victim One" in court documents, was told that if he didn't pay up soon, the two gangsters would decapitate him and bury his headless body in his backyard. (At least they didn't plan to bring it to a topless bar.)

Apparently, the audio and video recordings showed Santaniello in such a bad light that this seems to have swayed the judge's thoughts about bail.

"The evidence shows that Santaniello displayed a casual brutality in his exchanges with Victim One," Judge Roberston wrote in her detainment order.

"Santaniello slapped Victim 1 across the face during the first meeting at which he allegedly demanded money, and at a subsequent meeting, Santaniello ripped open Victim One's shirt to see if (he) was wearing a recording device," noted Judge Robertson.

Santaniello and Depergola also face RICO conspiracy charges in federal court in Manhattan in connection with a $30,000 illegal loan to someone at a Chicopee pizza shop. (It seems that the person seeking the funding was the undercover federal agent who had infiltrated the Genovese crime family).

The loan was set up apparently at the urging of New York Genovese crime family capo Eugene "Rooster" O'Nofrio, 74. O'Nofrio, who was named as one of the three overseers, or bosses, of the East Coast LCN Enterprise, has historically been in touch  with the crime family's Springfield Crew, law enforcement sources told Mass.Live, which reported most of these details. Perhaps O'Nofrio had assumed Nigro's role after he went away.

Ironically, U.S. District Magistrate Judge Robertson had gone to great length to question prosecution lawyers and the U.S. Marshals during an August hearing. She'd apparently been seeking to ensure that Santaniello didn't get stranded in the prison system, which apparently happened anyway.

A bail hearing scheduled for Nov. 18 was indefinitely postponed; the specific reason for the delay in Santaniello's case remains unknown.

Daniel D. Kelly, Santaniello's lawyer, argued in papers that his client isn't even in the Mafia."He is not alleged to have a membership in the LCN but rather was noted as an associate." (Apparently he doesn't realize what a mob associate is.)

"An FBI agent previously testified in court that Santaniello and Depergola were teed up for sanctioning, or "being made"... but the Genovese crime family had shut down membership," Mass.Live reported.

"Currently the books are closed with the Genovese crime family. Therefore no one is being made," Agent Robert Zanolli testified in August.

The Fed's filed a motion that noted how Santaniello had effectively played the role of the "classic" mobster in his ability to threaten violence.

The filing noted: "He also threatened Victim One, telling him that this was his 'last warning,' but that he was 'going to be nice' before [he, meaning Santaniello] blow up again.'

When Victim One stated his inability to pay immediately, the defendant said:

"See, when you talk like that you're going to get your f***ing head cracked.' Unbeknownst to the Defendant, this entire confrontation was recorded by law enforcement, who were hiding on the premises."

Defense attorney Kelly calls the delay "inexplicable."

April Fools Day 2011 No Joke for "Big Al"
The mob's presence in Springfield, Mass., for at least 100 years, according to law enforcement.

On April 1st, 2011, following a three-week-long trial, Arthur Nigro, former Genovese crime family acting boss, was found guilty of two murders, an attempted murder, and other crimes. Nigro, of the Bronx, stood trial alongside the Genovese family's Springfield Crew enforcers Fotios "Freddy" Geas, of West Springfield, Mass., and his brother Ty Geas, of Westfield, Mass.

The murders of "Big Al" Bruno and former crew associate Gary D. Westerman, and the plotting to kill a union boss were the charges that won the three mobsters life sentences. (They also were convicted on charges that they had extorted victims throughout Springfield, Mass., Hartford, Conn., and Manhattan.)

Bruno murder scene from 2003 hit.

Nearly a year ago, in December 2015, reports noted that Freddy Geas and Nigro had filed fresh motions as part of an effort to get a U.S. District Court Judge in Manhattan to vacate their life sentences.

One of the appeals highlights "new details about government witnesses," including New York's John Bologna and Springfield-based strip club magnate James Santaniello.

Retired FBI Agent Clifford Hedges was prompted to provide details regarding a report he had written about Bruno that some allege may have set the Bruno murder plot in motion, according to Masslive.com reporter Stephanie Barry, who wrote up these revelations in a series of stories.

Nigro ran the Springfield faction from the Bronx. The Bruno hit was said to have nearly annihilated the Genovese crime family's presence in Greater Springfield. But it seems they were busy rebuilding when the Feds swooped in this summer. (Amedeo Santaniello, Bruno's longtime second-in-command throughout the 1990s had a major falling out with Bruno; the two never repaired the relationship.)

Amedeo Santaniello, Bruno's longtime second-in-command.

Bruno and Gary Westerman were killed by upstart gangsters looking to usurp power from Bruno, a longtime figure in Western Massachusetts' organized crime landscape.

Anthony J. Arillotta, Bruno's successor (before flipping in 2010), led efforts to kill both Bruno and Westerman.

Arillotta, the Geases, Fusco and longtime Western Massachusetts wiseguy Felix Tranghese got hold of a court document that referenced Bruno discussing Fusco's standing in the Genovese crime family with an FBI agent in 2002. They brought this evidence to the Bronx, to show to Nigro and others. (Bruno was never found to be an FBI informant; this may have been the report that retired FBI Agent Hedges was questioned about last year.)

The Springfield group won permission from Nigro and other New York bosses to kill Bruno.

But weeks prior to the Bruno hit, Westerman was done away with.

Viewed primarily by his brother-in-law Arillotta as a rival, Westerman also was confirmed to have been a state police informant.

According to testimony, the Geases lured Westerman to a home in Agawam using the cover story that they were going to pull off a lucrative home invasion. Fotios Geas shot Westerman as Arillotta and Fusco allegedly waited in a nearby garage of the home they were "planning" to invade, which was out in the woods.

Arillotta testified that he and Fusco were among the four who brought Westerman to the location where he was killed -- actually, he was both shot and bludgeoned (Geas's aim wasn't that great) and finally buried in a nearby wooded area.

Westerman's remains were found in 2010 when Arillotta led investigators to the grave after his arrest for the Bruno murder.

Arillotta's testimony was said to be "critical" in terms of winning convictions against the Geas brothers and Nigro.

The Geas brothers previously had served as Arillotta's enforcers and had assisted him in his efforts to take over Springfield's underworld.