Crime

Former acting mob boss released from custody

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) - An East Boston man identified by the FBI as the one-time acting mob boss of the New England crime family was officially released from custody last month after serving nearly six years for shaking down Rhode Island strip clubs for protection money.

Anthony DiNunzio, 58, was released from federal prison on Feb. 22, according to the Federal Bureau of Prisons, and is now on three years of supervised release. A court filing Tuesday at the U.S. District Court in Providence officially moved the case to Massachusetts, where DiNunzio is now believed to be living.

A call to DiNunzio's attorney was not immediately returned.

A spokesperson for the Federal Bureau of Prisons said DiNunzio had been on home confinement since October, prior to that he was in a halfway house after serving time at a correctional institution in Loretto, Penn.

His release means only one of the nine defendants in the sweeping 2011 crackdown on the New England mob remains behind bars: mob capo Edward "Eddie" Lato is serving a nine-year sentence racketeering at Fort Dix prison in New Jersey. He is scheduled to be released in July 2019.

In 2011, federal investigators said DiNunzio took the reins of the New England mob after longtime boss Luigi "Baby Shacks" Manocchio stepped down. Manocchio's departure came shortly after he learned he was the focus of a federal investigation.

But with the crown came the crime, according to prosecutors: DiNunzio continued to accept protection payments from Providence strip clubs including the Satin Doll, Foxy Lady, Desire, and the Cadillac Lounge, according to the 2011 indictment.

DiNunzio ultimately pleaded guilty to one count of racketeering conspiracy. Two other charges, including extortion, were dropped as part of a plea deal. Rhode Island U.S. District Judge William Smith sentenced DiNunzio to six-and-a-half years in prison in 2012, but he was credited for some time he served following his arrest.

Investigators were bearing down on the New England mob for years leading up to the case, even getting a high-ranking mobster, Robert "Bobby" DeLuca, to wear a wire for the FBI.

DeLuca, a mob capo, began cooperating with federal investigators in the case and escaped prison time for his role in the crimes. He is currently behind bars in a separate case and is expected to testify against former mob boss Francis "Cadillac Frank" Salemme at a murder trial in Boston in May.

One of the mobsters caught on DeLuca's wire was Lato. Investigators accused the now-70-year-old Johnston man of delivering the protection payments from the strip clubs to DiNunzio.

Tim White (twhite@wpri.com) is the Target 12 investigative reporter and host of Newsmakers for WPRI 12 and Fox Providence. Follow him on Twitter and on Facebook

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