The head of the New England Mafia pleaded guilty to racketeering this morning in federal court in Rhode Island, in yet another blow to organized crime in the region.
Anthony DiNunzio, 53, of East Boston, could serve to 63 to 78 months in prison through an agreement he reached with federal prosecutors. He pleaded guilty to a single count of conspiracy to commit racketeering and is slated to be sentenced Nov. 14.
Outside the courthouse in Providence this morning, Rhode Island US Attorney Peter Neronha said the case was the product of a strong investigation that has already led to convictions of DiNunzio’s underlings in Rhode Island.
“We have driven a stake through the heart of organized crime in Rhode Island and we have cut off its head in Boston,’’ Neronha said.
During a brief hearing this morning, Assistant US Attorney William Ferland told the court that DiNunzio assumed control of the area’s faction of La Cosa Nostra, which oversees eastern Massachusetts and Rhode Island, after former boss Luigi Manocchio stepped down in 2009.
DiNunzio quickly sought to continue Manocchio’s operations in Rhode Island, including the extortion of protection payments from area strip clubs.
“He ultimately assumed a leadership role in the enterprise,’’ Ferland said
DiNunzio, wearing olive green prison garb and glasses, looked to his lawyer for answers as the proceedings continued. He answered loudly “guilty’’ when asked how he would plead.
Outside the courtroom, Neronha promised that the investigation into organized crime and the New England Mafia will continue, targeting anyone looking to assume DiNunzio‘s position.
“When there’s money to be made, the criminal element will step up to take their place,’’ he said.