A federal jury in Boston will decide the fate of the Massachusetts State Police Trooper charged with extortion — finding that his alleged threats were serious and a crime, or just the “locker-room” banter of a drunken man.
The 12-person panel deliberated for five hours Thursday before breaking, and will resume deliberations Friday, following the testimony of three witnesses over two days. The trial started with jury selection on Monday.
Trooper John M. Analetto, 49, of Belmont, a veteran of more than 20 years, is charged with extorting payments from a bookmaker whom he had loaned $24,000, by threatening to beat him, in one case even kill him. He is also charged with extorting money from a second man, a gambler who owed the bookmaker more than $3,000. If convicted, Analetto faces up to 20 years in prison on the charges.
Analetto has been on unpaid administrative leave since his arrest on New Year’s Eve in 2011, at a gas station in Belmont, and has been held without bail.
Federal prosecutors allege Analetto had tried to form a gambling ring partnership with the bookmaker, but that he grew “out of control” and threatened him with violence when the bookmaker failed to make his payments.
The bookmaker, Robert Russo, of Arlington, secretly recorded some of the alleged threats in cooperation with the FBI, and he testified Wednesday that he had grown fearful of the trooper, who he said slapped him and threatened him and others with violence.
“He’s committed all types of crimes he’s dealt with, scary people, and nobody scared him the way the defendant did,” Assistant US Attorney Eugenia M. Carris said Thursday, in her closing arguments in the case.
“We told you the defendant was out of control, and the evidence has shown that,” she added.
But Daniel W. O’Malley, an attorney for Analetto, argued through the trial that Russo was a lifelong criminal who had set his client up to avoid paying his debts. He noted that Russo picked up $10,000 from Analetto just before the trooper was arrested in a secret meeting, apparently without fear of being harmed. And yet he did not tell his FBI handlers of the meeting.
“Russo went out and sold out Analetto to save himself,” O’Malley said in his closing arguments. “The foundation on which this case is built on is Robert Russo, a lifelong lowlife . . . he’s a survivor, he’d do anything to survive.”
According to testimony, Analetto met Russo in summer 2011, and began placing bets with him. At one point, he loaned Russo $24,000 after the bookmaker reported being tens of thousands of dollars in debt, about to lose his home.
Russo, according to their agreement, would pay back $500 in principal a week, and Analetto would also receive a cut of his weekly profits, prosecutors said.Milton J. Valencia can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @miltonvalencia.