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New England crime boss sentenced to prison for strip club extortion

By Daniel Lovering

(Reuters) - The reputed head of the New England mafia was sentenced on Wednesday to 6-1/2 years in prison for his role in a scheme to extort protection money from Rhode Island strip clubs and adult bookstores.

Anthony DiNunzio, 53, had pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court in Providence, Rhode Island, to one count of conspiracy to participate in a racketeering enterprise, in a deal with federal prosecutors in September.

He faced up to 20 years in prison, but prosecutors asked for a reduced sentence as part of the agreement.

DiNunzio, of East Boston, was arrested in April and charged with overseeing a scheme to extort payments of $2,000 to $6,000 per month from Providence area clubs such as the Satin Doll, the Foxy Lady and the Cadillac Lounge.

According to prosecutors, DiNunzio had been boss of the New England mafia since 2008 after Louie "Baby Shacks" Manocchio stepped down as chief. In June, Manocchio was sentenced to nine years in prison for his role in the scheme.

DiNunzio and his subordinates "used threats of violence to extort protection payments from business owners throughout the state," Lanny A. Breuer, assistant attorney general at the Department of Justice, said in a statement on Wednesday.

"His sentence sends a powerful message about the department's determination to hold mafia leaders and associates to account," he said.

At least eight other New England mafia figures have been sentenced for their roles in the scheme in which clubs were forced to hire mafia members as bookkeepers and bouncers to ensure payments were made.

DiNunzio's attorney could not be reached immediately for comment.

(Editing by Paul Thomasch and David Gregorio)