A Rhode Island mob associate who authorities say spent nearly two decades shaking down Providence strip clubs where he worked as a bookkeeper has accepted a plea deal.
Thomas Iafrate, 70, signed the agreement Friday. Under the agreement, Ifrate will plead guilty to racketeering conspiracy and admit he was an associate of the New England La Cosa Nostra.
In exchange, prosecutors say they will recommend a prison term at the low end of federal sentencing guidelines. Prosecutors also say they will seek to dismiss extortion and extortion conspiracy charges.
Iafrate's attorney Kevin Salvaggio declined comment.
Iafrate, of Johnston, and reputed former New England mob boss Luigi "Baby Shacks" Manocchio were arrested in a January mob sweep that netted more than 120 suspected Northeast mobsters and mob associates.
Manocchio, Iafrate and two other men arrested later _ Richard Bonafiglia and Theodore Cardillo _ have pleaded not guilty to charges they conspired to extort protection money from Rhode Island strip clubs.
Iafrate worked as a bookkeeper at one of the clubs, the Cadillac Lounge, where Bonafiglia and Cardillo also worked, as a bouncer and manager, respectively. He also worked as a bookkeeper at the Satin Doll.
Prosecutors say Iafrate collected the protection payments for Manocchio, who had Bonafiglia and Cardillo keep him informed of the goings-on at the club.
The strip clubs paid out more than $800,000 in protection payments, court records show.
A hearing date has not been scheduled for Iafrate to change his plea. Court records show the maximum penalty for racketeering conspiracy is 20 years in prison, a $250,000 fine, up to three years of supervised release and a special assessment of $100.
A spokesman for the U.S. Attorney's office in Rhode Island declined comment.
An attorney for Manocchio said his client has not been offered a deal.
"I don't see any reason why he would accept a plea deal," said Boston lawyer Joseph Balliro Sr. "We intend on going to trial establishing his innocence."
Bonafiglia's attorney, Robert B. Mann, declined comment. An attorney for Cardillo did not immediately return messages seeking comment on Wednesday.