Updated news on the Gambino, Genovese, Bonanno, Lucchese and Colombo Organized Crime Families of New York City.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Former New England crime boss awaits sentencing tomorrow

Luigi Manocchio had just sat down to a bowl of soup at a restaurant on Federal Hill when a familiar face with a familiar delivery approached him.
Thomas Iafrate, then a bookkeeper for the Cadillac Lounge strip club in Providence, was there to hand him an envelope stuffed with cash.
It was 2008 and Manocchio was still the head of the New England crime family. The money, according to federal investigators, was his tribute: a weekly payment by the Lounge and other adult entertainment hot spots for protection from the man known as "Baby Shacks."
Iafrate sat down with the aging mob boss – then 80 years old but in excellent physical condition. That’s when two unexpected and uninvited guests joined the pair: FBI Special Agents Joseph Degnan and Jeffrey Cady.
They weren’t there for the soup.
The G-Men seized the envelope from Manocchio and eventually traced the cash back to the strip club, according to court documents. Manocchio was arrested in January 2010 at the Fort Lauderdale airport while attempting to board a plane destined for T.F. Green.
Leaders of crime families can expect to be constantly under the watchful eye of law enforcement. They are keenly aware that at any given time, there may be an active investigation into their activities and their faces are most likely adorning a corkboard in a federal office somewhere.
But Manocchio's life would be dramatically different after the two agents walked out from behind the tinted glass of government-owned vehicles and into that restaurant.
On Friday, four years after that encounter, Manocchio, 84, of Providence, will be sentenced for his role in shaking down strip clubs for protection money. Manocchio pleaded guilty earlier this year to racketeering conspiracy; two other counts were dropped.
A lot has happened since that day on Federal Hill: Manocchio stepped down as the mob boss, Special Agent Degnan retired, and eight other made members or associates of the Patriarca crime family have been scooped up by the investigation.
The plea agreement Manocchio signed with the Rhode Island U.S Attorney’s office means he faces between 63 and 78 months behind bars. Manocchio will most likely be credited for the more than a year he's spent behind bars waiting for his case to play out.
Federal authorities bounced Manocchio around the country for weeks after his arrest until he wound up at the Wyatt Detention Center in Central Falls – an institution his lawyer called an “ugly place for a man of his age.”
Just last month Manocchio’s reputed underworld replacement, Anthony DiNunzio of East Boston, was arrested by the FBI and charged with a host of crimes for his alleged activities as acting mob boss. Prosecutors allege DiNunzio picked up where Manocchio left off: shaking down strip clubs.
But they say it wasn't Iafrate – who now sits in prison in Brooklyn serving 30 months for being, essentially, a bagman – who prosecutors allege delivered the cash homage to the Boston heavyweight. They say it was capo regime Edward “Eddy” Lato of Providence.
Lato has also agreed to plead guilty, but with a much longer criminal record than either of his former bosses, he may be forced to serve a lot more prison time when he is sentenced in June.
Manocchio has begun looking his age during recent appearances before U.S. District Court Judge William Smith, but his trademark toughness hasn’t waned.
When Smith asked the mobster if anyone had threatened him into the plea deal with federal authorities, Manocchio chuckled, “I don’t know who that would be.”
Manocchio has been the target of a host of investigations over the years, but it was a team of agents, state troopers and local detectives on Rhode Island's Organized Crime Task Force that finally forced his downfall.
Led by Supervisory Special Agent Jeffrey Sallet, the task force included Degnan, Cady, State Police Corporal Matthew Moynihan, retired Providence Police Det. Jack Whalen, and in the past State Police Lt. Kevin Hawkins.
Veteran Rhode Island prosecutors William Ferland of the Rhode Island U.S. Attorney’s Office and U.S. Justice Department trial attorney Samuel Nazzaro have spearheaded the government's case.
Judge Smith will ultimately decide Manocchio’s fate at the 10 a.m. hearing Friday.



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