2 NE mobsters plead guilty in RI in extortion case

AP News

3/13/2012 4:18:09 PM - AP News

Two Rhode Island men on Tuesday admitted to their roles in the extortion of Providence-area strip clubs by the New England mafia, bringing the number of mobsters convicted in the shakedown case to three.

Edward "Eddy" Lato, 64, and Alfred "Chippy" Scivola Jr., 71, pleaded guilty to racketeering conspiracy during separate hearings in U.S. District Court in Providence. Both men were initially scheduled to plead guilty last month, but their change-of-plea hearings did not go forward as planned.

As part of plea agreements, Lato admitted to having a leadership role in the mob and Scivola acknowledged being a mobster. Lato also agreed to playing a role in a separate shakedown plot that targeted a used-car salesman working in Johnston. Lato and Scivola will be sentenced on June 8.

The most high-profile figure in the case, Luigi "Baby Shacks" Manocchio, 84, pleaded guilty last month to racketeering conspiracy and agreed to prosecutors' claim that he was a former boss and underboss of the New England mob. He is set to be sentenced on May 11.

The strip-club extortion plot went back to about 1992 and netted $800,000 to $1.5 million in ill-gotten gains through protection payments paid by places, including the Cadillac Lounge, prosecutors have said.

The payments were set aside for the mafia by Thomas Iafrate, 70, a former bookkeeper at the Cadillac Lounge, according to prosecutors. Iafrate started serving a 2 1/2-year prison sentence for racketeering conspiracy last month. The monthly payments ranged from $2,000 to $6,000, the indictment said.

In January 2011, authorities arrested Manocchio and Iafrate. After their arrest, Lato sought to continue to collect protection payments from the Cadillac Lounge, said U.S. Department of Justice Trial Attorney Sam G. Nazzaro.

Lato initially balked at prosecutors' assertion that he was a mob leader, but later made the admission after consulting with his defense attorney. Last month, a federal judge interrupted Lato's change-of-plea hearing after he disputed parts of prosecutors' version of his case. He is facing between just under eight years and a little bit more than nine years in prison as a part of a plea agreement.

Scivola, who blew kisses to his family before being led away in handcuffs, is facing a sentence between three years and five months and a little more than four years.

Another man, Richard Bonafiglia, 58, who was a bouncer at the Cadillac Lounge, pleaded guilty last month to racketeering conspiracy as part of the strip club case. A co-defendant, Theodore "Teddy" Cardillo, 68, who was a manager at the Cadillac Lounge, has pleaded not guilty to charges and is awaiting trial.

In a separate scheme, prosecutors said Lato shared in money extorted from a used car-salesman. The salesman paid $20,000 last fall to reputed mob associate Raymond "Scarface" Jenkins, 47, and another $5,000 to a different, unidentified person, prosecutors said. Jenkins pleaded guilty last month to extortion conspiracy.

An alleged mob associate, Albino "Albi" Folcarelli, 54, has pleaded not guilty to accusations he went to the dealership before the salesman paid Jenkins with money withdrawn from a spouse's retirement account. Folcarelli is awaiting trial.