More Inside Dope On Springfield Crew's Geas Brothers and Artie Nigro

Just about every wiseguy who ever lived, no matter how smart he is—no matter how low he holds his head—sooner or later will find himself in a prison cell. The only mystery is the duration of the sentence (which, depending on the content of the indictment, could be a couple of years or decades—or centuries). 

Anthony Arillotta and Freddy and Ty Geas
Freddy (right), Ty (center), Arillotta (second from left).

Spending time in the can is as much a certainty for wiseguys as death and taxes are for the rest of us. Case in point: even the recently departed Gambino capo Anthony Scotto, who died at age 87 earlier this month, eventually went to the clink... Scotto was a powerful figure in the Mafia whose story heralds an earlier era of America's Cosa Nostra, when mobsters could discreetly rise high in big business. Scotto (pronounced SKOE-toe) was 29 years old when he became president of the Brooklyn-based Local 1814 of the International Longshoremen’s Association in 1963, succeeding his father-in-law, Anthony Anastasio, who had died of a heart attack at 57. Scotto's rise finally put Carlo Gambino truly in control of the Brooklyn waterfront. Scotto eventually counted politicians as part of his inner circle and earned additional distinctions that are pretty damn unbelievable today: He once lectured at Harvard, and a sitting American President seriously considered him to be Secretary of Labor for the country. 

Scotto went to prison after informants identified him as a capo in the Gambino crime family. Scotto got five years and was released in 1984 and avoided indictment for the rest of his life. A source told us Scotto decided to retire after departing prison, though turncoat Salvatore (Sammy the Bull) Gravano named Scotto as a member of the Gambino family in the 1990s.

Anyway, we’ve run two stories based on information provided to this blog by a source who spent considerable time around members and associates of organized crime while he worked as a deputy marshal ferrying them to and from court. Somehow, for reasons we can’t even begin to fathom, we misplaced a nice chunk of the content from one of those stories, the one about former Genovese acting boss Arthur Nigro and the brothers Ty and Freddy Geas, both of whom were members of the Genovese family's Springfield Crew in Massachusetts, which Nigro oversaw as acting boss of the Genovese crime family from his perch in the Bronx.

Insight into wiseguys in prison is something we consider inherently fascinating, but elevating this specific story is the fact that Fotios (aka Freddy) Geas is one of the key suspects in the brutal 2018 murder of former Boston gangster/rat James (Whitey) Bulger, who was found beaten to death inside his West Virginia prison cell. (No charges have been brought in the case yet, and Freddy and the two other inmate suspects—Paul J. DeCologero, who allegedly helped Geas dole out the beating, and Sean McKinnon, who has no known mob ties—all remain in the special housing unit at US Penitentiary Hazelton, locked in tiny cells for 23 hours a day.)

The hammer fell on the Geas brothers and Nigro after a three-week trial in New York City in 2011, when all three were convicted for participating in the 2003 murder of Adolfo (Big Al) Bruno, the Genovese family capo who had overseen the Springfield Crew—until he was shot to death. The Bruno hit was conceived and plotted out by Nigro and former Genovese wiseguy Anthony (Bingy) Arillotta, who had once been mentored by Bruno. As for the motive for getting rid of Bruno, Nigro wanted a bigger piece of Springfield’s action, and Bingy wanted to see what life was like from the top.

Ultimately, Bingy flipped (after his arrest for the Bruno murder, among other things) and testified against his former cohorts. Freddy, his younger brother Ty, and Nigro were all sentenced to life in prison. Nigro died in 2019 while serving the sentence.

The following, which is in the former marshal’s own words, was very lightly edited:

During Arillotta’s testimony he mentioned a shooting that occurred outside of a bar in Springfield. Arillotta said this shooting involved Freddy and Ty. After the trial was done for the day, we escorted the Geas brothers and (Arthur) Nigro back into the holding area and down the elevator into the cellblock. Once we reached the cellblock, we—me and a contract guard, also known as a district security officer—were preparing to walk them over to MCC. (In the Southern and Eastern Districts of New York, DSOs are primarily comprised of retired NYPD cops that work on an hourly basis for the US Marshals Service going to court and transporting prisoners.) The particular DSO I was with that day was Clarence Cash. Cash subsequently—in 2011—shot and killed his wife. Our head marshal at the time, Joe Guccione, successfully kept the fact that Cash worked for the marshals out of the newspapers. I knew Cash to be a heavy gambler. (As for Cash shooting his wife, the Daily News reported in 2011: “A hulking ex-cop riddled his wife with bullets in their Queens apartment, furiously shooting her repeatedly in the face before meekly surrendering to police...” The wife, Tracey Young, was 42 when she died at around 11 p.m. at night from four shots to the torso and three to the face. The murder happened inside the eighth-floor Briarwood condo where the couple lived. As for motive, Cash, a retired cop from the 32nd Precinct in Harlem who married Young two years prior, told police he shot her after a romantic evening went sour, “going from candles and backrubs to yelling.”)

Cash and I overheard Ty say to Freddy, in sum and substance, that Arillotta’s description of the caliber used for a particular shooting was not the correct caliber that was ACTUALLY used. Cash and I looked at each other in astonishment. Ty tried to continue his argument to Freddy that Arillotta could somehow be impeached as a witness if the actual caliber used from that shooting could somehow be verified. The shooting Arillotta testified about happened many years before the trial and went unsolved with the Springfield PD. Freddy, realizing that this argument clearly incriminated them, looked at Ty and told him to “shut the fuck up” through clenched teeth. I could see escalating tension between the two of them. Nigro would just stand there, as always, staring forward. No emotion, no opinion on the trial.

The only time he would speak would be his daily joke in the elevator. It was always long and never funny. Ty and Freddy would always give a fake laugh, which indicated to me that they viewed him as someone they needed to placate.

Side note about Nigro : One marshal named Jay, who was not assigned to the trial, worked as a BOP officer at Fort Dix in the same housing unit as Nigro years before. Jay told me that Nigro was respected tremendously inside the housing unit. Another inmate would always make his bunk (bunks always needed to be made at the Fort Dix camp). Jay told me another Italian inmate would always collect Nigro’s mail for him, something that was against BOP policy but Jay would allow it for continuity and peace within the housing unit. One day, one of the Italian inmates became verbally abusive with Jay over a routine cell search. Jay then announced to the housing unit that inmates were no longer allowed to collect mail on behalf of other inmates and that every inmate collecting mail had to wait in line with their ID. The next day, the verbally abusive Italian came to Jay with black eyes and a swollen face. Jay said it was clear he had been beaten up. The Italian inmate apologized to Jay and asked him to allow inmates to collect mail on behalf of other inmates again. Jay said ok. Jay explained that he regularly used inmates to police themselves in situations like this.

Artie Nigro
Genovese acting boss Artie Nigro, who ran Springfield.

At the end of the trial when the guilty verdict was read, Ty was the only one who had a visible reaction. Ty immediately looked at Freddy who was staring forward. Nigro was doing the same. As soon as we walked into the cell holding area behind the courtroom, Nigro shrugged, looked at Freddy and said: “oh well, wanna play chess tonight?” Freddy didn’t reply. The only thing I heard Freddy say was to Ty “how could we be guilty of sports betting? We had nothing to do with sports betting.”

As we were waiting at the door of MCC, Ty was talking nonstop about how they shouldn’t have been convicted, it was bullshit, it makes no sense, etc. This was the only time I saw Freddy get really angry. He turned to Ty and yelled “shut the fuck up! Just shut the fuck up!”

Me and another marshal stayed back with Freddy while the other three marshals took Ty and Nigro inside. We didn’t want to remove their cuffs inside and have Freddy attack Ty. The entire time, Nigro just stood there as if nothing was happening.