Thursday November 15, 2012

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) -- The acting head of the New England Mafia was sentenced on Wednesday to 6 1/2 years in prison for shaking down local strip clubs for protection money.

Anthony L. DiNunzio, 53, pleaded guilty to one count of racketeering conspiracy in September under a plea agreement in U.S. District Court in Providence. The sentence was the maximum amount of time recommended by prosecutors under the plea deal.

DiNunzio is the eighth associate of the New England mob to be convicted and sentenced following an investigation into the extortion of strip clubs. Federal authorities said his conviction and sentencing deal another blow to what was once a far more formidable criminal organization.

"Taking down the head of the family is a significant step," Rhode Island U.S. Attorney Peter Neronha said.

U.S. District Court Judge William Smith said the maximum sentence was appropriate because he doesn’t believe DiNunzio is likely to rehabilitate and because he was the acting leader of the enterprise.