By Jason McLure
LITTLETON, New Hampshire (Reuters) - The suspected former head of the New England mafia will plead guilty to a charge of racketeering for participating in a scheme to extort protection payments from Rhode Island strip clubs and adult bookstores.
Anthony DiNunzio, 53, of East Boston, Massachusetts agreed to enter the plea in federal court in Rhode Island on Thursday, the Justice Department said in a statement on Wednesday.
DiNunzio faced up to 20 years in prison, but as part of the agreement federal prosecutors will ask for a reduced sentence of between five and six and a half years.
DiNunzio was arrested in April and charged with overseeing a scheme to extort payments of up to $6,000 per month from Providence area clubs including the Satin Doll, the Foxy Lady and the Cadillac Lounge.
Prosecutors say DiNunzio had been boss of the New England mafia since 2008 after Louie "Baby Shacks" Manocchio stepped down as chief. Manocchio was sentenced to nine years in prison for his role in the scheme in June.
As part of the scheme, clubs such as the Cadillac Lounge were forced to hire mafia members as bookkeepers and bouncers to ensure payments were made.
DiNunzio and his colleagues held meetings to supervise the plan at Boston area Italian restaurants with names like My Cousin Vinny's and Carmen's Kitchen, court papers show.
DiNunzio also negotiated with New York's Gambino crime family to divide racketeering proceeds from one adult entertainment figure who owned multiple businesses in the Northeast.
At least eight other New England mafia figures have been sentenced for their roles in the scheme.
The announcement comes 21 months after the biggest single-day sweep against organized crime in U.S. history, when law enforcement arrested more than 125 organized crime suspects, targeting New York's five Mafia "families," as well as New Jersey and New England mafia families.
(Editing by Todd Eastham)