Bingy Arillotta Discusses Some Of The Gangsters Of Springfield

Anthony Arillotta, who’d rise to replace his mentor as boss of the Springfield crew, was well regarded and considered a "capable and promising mobster" by then-Genovese acting boss Arthur Nigro, whom Arillotta began meeting regularly in the Bronx, as per court filings related to Nigro’s appeal.

Frank Roche,  Big Al Bruno
Frankie Roche, left, was gunman who shot Genovese boss Big Al Bruno, right.

Loyalty to Nigro "gave me a lot of clout,” Arillotta declared in testimony during one of two trials about his standing in the Genovese crime family’s Springfield crew.

“I didn't have to worry ... listen to anyone back in Massachusetts, Springfield. Gave me a lot of power, being direct with Artie. He was the boss. I could go anywhere in the country and I would have a boss that was the actual boss. I would belong to him, direct."

Arillotta—who would boss a crew of murderers, drug dealers, loan sharks, and robbers—was inducted into the Genovese family by Nigro.

As British GQ noted, Arillotta "swapped out his black Ford Expedition SUV for his mother’s Nissan Maxima before making the two-hour drive to New York City early on the morning of August 11, 2003. He drove to a restaurant called the Nebraska Steakhouse near Arthur Avenue in the Bronx and headed inside."

The thing about the date of Arillotta’s induction was that Adolfo (Big Al) Bruno—Bingy’s former mentor who put his name up several times, only to pull it back down for “infractions” of mob law by the young associate—was still very much alive.

We can only speculate about what Bruno must have thought. Did he perceive an enemy in Genovese family powerhouse Nigro? His crime family had deigned to make an associate, his own former protege, after Bruno had taken him down for drug dealing, which was not a nothing trespass of well-known mob edict (hypocritical though it may have been, as per some viewpoints).

Bruno died at age 57 while head of the Springfield faction of the New York-based Genovese crime family. He met death on November 23, 2003, in the form of multiple bullets fired at him in the parking lot outside the Society of Our Lady of Mount Carmel Club by a lone gunman as Bruno was departing his regular Sunday night card game.

Local knockaround guy Frankie Roche was later charged for being the hired shooter in the murder.

After gunning down Bruno, Roche fled Massachusetts immediately. FBI agents tracked him across a goodly sized swath of the US before managing to nab and arrest him finally in Tampa, Fla., in August 2004. (During the arrest, Roche didn’t surrender and was shot in the back by the agents who subdued him, a shooting that was ruled by the FBI as accidental. "While handcuffed and face down on the floor and in no way resisting arrest, an FBI agent . . . discharged a bullet into Mr. Roche's back," the civil lawsuit filed in 2007 in federal court in central Florida noted.)

Others charged in the Bruno slaying included Nigro, Fotios (Freddy) A. Geas, and his brother Ty, all of whom would receive life sentences. (Nigro died serving that sentence earlier this year.)

What primarily led to Bruno's demise was a pre-sentencing memo that emerged that seemed to lend credence to a belief that Bruno had been a stoolpigeon. A retired FBI agent memorializing certain information hammered the nail in Bruno's coffin.

In a podcast we recently wrote about, Bingy Arillotta discussed growing up in Western Massachusetts and Springfield.

"We all grew up with that mob mystique in '70s and '80s,” he said in the podcast. “If you're Italian, the mob was in everyone's home. We talked about the mob in my home."

But organized crime was more than a topic of discussion in Bingy’s home.

"(Wiseguys) always used to come in (a store his family owned). I had family involved (in the life).”

The Genovese family’s presence in Springfield went back to before there was even a Genovese family, he said.

Genovese acting boss Artie Nigro.
Genovese acting boss Artie Nigro.

Other crime families in the area included the Patriarca family plus "renegades on the fringes." Philadelphia wiseguys trolled the area for recruits.

"We’re all friends with each other." But "to do business in Western Massachusettes, they'd have to touch base with us," meaning the Genovese crime family.

In the late '80s, there was nearly a war over vending machines when one Patriarca wiseguy on the Genovese family's Springfield turf wanted to loanshark, bookmake, sell drugs, and get into vending machines.

"He was causing lots of problems. Lots of sitdowns were going on. He got permission to do some small bookmaking outside the Springfield area. He had friends and they were trying to sway local businesses to put Patriarca machines in Genovese family territory.

"All the local guys – that was their business – they’d go and take the Patriarca machines and bust them up, and put their machines back in. "

A "big war over vending machines" was brewing, though before anyone got shot, the state of Connecticut handed down a major indictment that named around 20 Patriarca wiseguys from there, Boston, and Springfield, abruptly ending this dispute.

Springfield is a smaller city that is only two or three hours from other larger US cities, inclusding New York City, Boston, and Philadelphia.

“We made more money in our area,” Arillotta said, and because of that there was a perception that Springfield offered sizable opportunities to earn, meaning wiseguys and fringe players had their eyes focused on Springfield. “They all wanted to come to our area.”

The Genovese family in Springfield controlled a range of businesses, including bars, restaurants, strip clubs, and nightclubs, as well as vending machines (which sold various products like cigarettes and were widely available in retail storefront venues).

The bottom line was that “every illegal business – sports, loansharking, drug dealing on the sneak – we had a lock on it, including all the marijuana.”

Wiseguys in Springfield had politicians. During Bingy’s era, a local DA was on the payroll. (Bruno and Scibelli had had that same DA for about 25 years prior.)

As a result, Bruno and Scibelli, and their friends and associates, were never touched by that DA.

Franky (Skyball) Scibelli was only 5 foot 5, but was quite vicious. Scibelli's crew included his younger brothers Anthony (Turk) and Albert (Baba) and future capo Bruno. Brother Albert had been big in vending machines.

Salvatore (Big Nose Sam) Cufari
Salvatore (Big Nose Sam) Cufari

Prior to Scibelli, Salvatore (Big Nose Sam) Cufari had been the boss in Springfield until his 1983 death. The Scibelli brothers, though, had been running operations for him for about 10-15 years prior to his demise.

The money earned by the gangsters of Springfield was unbelievable. The Scibelli brothers made around $150,000 a week alone just from their “piece” of the bars and restaurants operating on their turf.

Big Al Bruno
Big Al Bruno had been Frankie Skyball’s protégé.

“(Bruno) was an earner. He loved the life that he lived.”

Bruno “was an unbelievable hustler who was up early in the morning and out late at night.”

Bruno was a consummate politician who could seamlessly interact with multiple crime families.

“When I got caught selling drugs, Bruno wanted to kill me.

“Let’s say I was made under him – they could kill me or us both if they thought he was in on (the drug dealing with me). If I were made and broke that rule he’d have to kill me.”

This is about where the podcast ends. Rest is speculation on Irish mob and other topics