A Rhode Island mob associate who authorities say spent nearly two decades shaking down Providence strip clubs where he worked as a bookkeeper pleaded guilty Thursday as part of a deal that will see prosecutors recommend a lighter sentence.
Dressed in a grey and yellow Hawaiian shirt and dark pants, Thomas Iafrate, 70, pleaded guilty to racketeering conspiracy in U.S. District Court in Providence. He also admitted before Judge William E. Smith that he was an associate of the New England La Cosa Nostra.
In exchange, prosecutors said they will recommend a prison term at the low end of federal sentencing guidelines. They also said they will seek to dismiss extortion and extortion conspiracy charges. Iafrate, who is free on bail, is scheduled to be sentenced on Oct. 21.
Defense attorney Artin Colonian said Iafrate will not cooperate with authorities prosecuting his co-defendants.
The maximum penalty for racketeering conspiracy is 20 years in prison, a $250,000 fine and three years of supervised release.
Iafrate, of Johnston, and reputed former New England mob boss Luigi "Baby Shacks" Manocchio, 83, were arrested in a January mob sweep that netted more than 120 suspected Northeast mobsters and mob associates.
Manocchio and two other men arrested later _ Richard Bonafiglia, 57, and Theodore Cardillo, 67, _ have pleaded not guilty to charges they conspired to extort protection money from Rhode Island strip clubs. Manocchio and Bonafiglia are detained. Cardillo is free on bail while awaiting trial.
Iafrate worked as a bookkeeper for Richard and Nancy Shappy, who operated the Cadillac Lounge, Satin Doll and Northeast Sales. Bonafiglia and Cardillo worked as a bouncer and manager at the Cadillac Lounge.
Prosecutors say Iafrate collected the protection payments for Manocchio, who had Bonafiglia and Cardillo keep him informed of the goings-on at the Cadillac Lounge.
The strip clubs paid out more than $800,000 in protection payments, court records show.