A state trooper was convicted in federal court Friday of extortion for threatening a gambler who owed their fellow bookie more than $3,000 in debts.
John M. Analetto, 49, of Belmont, a trooper for more than 20 years, remained silent but shook his head in apparent disappointment as the jury rendered its verdict and for several minutes thereafter. His family members and friends sat quietly.
After deliberating for more than eight hours, the jury was hung, however, on a second count of extortion, known as Count One, and US District Court Judge George A. O’Toole Jr. declared a mistrial on that charge. Prosecutors will decide whether to bring that charge to trial again. A hearing is scheduled for Thursday.
Analetto’s lawyer, Daniel W. O’Malley, would only say outside the courtroom, “John tested the government’s evidence and it stood up as to Count Two and it did not to Count One. We respect the jury’s verdict.”
He would not say whether Count One should go to trial again, saying prosecutors will make that decision.
State Police Colonel Timothy P. Alben said in a statement that he would support a new trial for the remaining extortion count, saying State Police are pleased with the single-count conviction. Analetto faces a maximum of 20 years in prison for the conviction.
“His actions were the antithesis of everything for which the Massachusetts State Police stand,” Alben said. “There is no place for him in this department, and we will continue our internal disciplinary process to ensure that appropriate departmental action is taken.”
Analetto was the subject of a previous internal affairs investigation related to statements made to a female motorist. He has been on unpaid administrative leave since his arrest on Dec. 31, 2011, at a gas station in Belmont. Authorities confiscated his badge and gun and he has since been held without bail.
After testimony by three witnesses over two days, the jury found that Analetto threatened a gambler who had owed their bookie Robert Russo more than $3,000 for several months. Prosecutors had submitted video surveillance that was secretly taped showing Analetto talking about how he would threaten the gambler, and he made references to raping the gambler’s mother with a broomstick.
Analetto also called the gambler at one point using an untraceable Walmart cellphone and left a message, saying the gambler owed money, he expected payment, and that the gambler knew whom to contact. He also made a reference to the gambler’s parents, saying he hoped they had a Happy New Year.
“2012 is not going to be a good year for you . . . capice?” Analetto said in December 2011, in what prosecutors argued was a threat.
O’Malley had argued that his client had no plans to carry out any violence, but that the conversation was the banter of a drunken man who had been spending time with friends drinking at a transmission shop in Watertown.
“It was right out of the Sopranos, it was like he was watching too many episodes or something,” O’Malley said during the trial. “It was laughable.”
Much of the case centered on Russo, the bookmaker, who was the basis for Count One. He had told jurors that he met Analetto in the summer of 2011, and that the trooper began placing bets with him. At one point that fall, Analetto agreed to loan Russo $24,000. But the bookmaker said that Analetto became violent and started to threaten him when he could not meet their payment agreement of $500 in principal a week, plus a cut of his weekly profits.
Russo cooperated with the FBI and secretly recorded his conversations with Analetto, including one meeting in which the trooper threatened, “I’ll kill you.”
O’Malley had argued that the threats were just banter. He also accused Russo of trying to bait Analetto into making the threats in order to incriminate him in the FBI investigation and avoid paying back his debt.
Assistant US Attorney Eugenia M. Carris argued, however, that “it was this defendant, a Massachusetts State Police trooper, who was business partners with this Russo.”Milton J. Valencia can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @miltonvalencia.