Thursday, June 3, 2010
William M. Bennett confirmed Wednesday that federal and state investigators uncovered the remains of organized crime associate Gary D. Westerman in a wooded area in Agawam in April.
Westerman, missing since 2003, had long been believed a victim of a mob hit, according to investigators. The search for his body unfolded in earnest in the wake of speculation this spring that alleged Mafia boss Anthony J. Arillotta apparently turned government informant.
Westerman, 48, had spent years in prison for drug and armed robbery convictions; he also was Arillotta’s brother-in-law.
Arillotta, 41, was charged with the 2003 murder of his predecessor, Adolfo “Big Al” Bruno, in an indictment in federal court in Manhattan on Dec. 29. The charges were not unsealed until February, however, and Arillotta virtually disappeared from the federal prison where he was being held without bail in late March.
Investigators steadfastly refused to discuss his status as a potential informant, but a horde of FBI agents and state police soon appeared at a residential plot at 160 Springfield St. and dug at a site in the woods behind the home for days. It concluded abruptly after a medical examiner’s truck pulled away after midnight on April 9.
An old friend of Arillotta’s rented the home, investigators said, but was not believed to be complicit in Westerman’s disappearance.
“I can confirm it’s Gary Westerman and that it was a homicide,” Bennett said.
The district attorney refused to provide further details about a cause of death or motive.
Sources familiar with the investigation have said previously that Westerman was shot twice in the head.
Since the Bruno murder investigation was transferred from here to New York, it is expected that charges linked to Westerman’s slaying will originate there also. Several men have been charged in a sweeping racketeering indictment there that includes the alleged murder-for-hire plot and other accusations of organized crime conspiracies that straddled Western Massachusetts and that state.