PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – Luigi "Baby Shacks" Manocchio, the longtime former boss of the New England crime family, was sentenced Friday to 5 1/2 years behind bars for his role in shaking down strip clubs for protection money.
Manocchio, who turn 85 in June, has already spent 16 months in federal custody since arrest in Jan. 2011, so he has 50 months left to serve.
In court, his defense attorney Joseph Balliro warned any prison stay for a man of his age could be a "death sentence."
"His health deteriorates everyday just like every other 85 year-old person," Balliro told reporters outside court. "Hopefully he will be out some day to see his family."
Balliro called the sentence by U.S. District Court Judge William Smith "fair." Assistant U.S. Attorney William Ferland asked the judge to impose 70 months; Balliro requested 63, the judge ultimately split the difference.
Wearing a tan prison jumpsuit, Manocchio made a short comment when asked by Judge Smith if he had anything to say. He recognized the position he "inherited" was unlawful, but didn't express remorse for the crimes against him.
"I don't want my family or friends to believe I threatened anybody," Manocchio said reading from a prepared statement.
Earlier in the hearing Ferland pointed out that Manocchio never needed to directly threaten anyone because as mob boss, the specter of harm was always there.
"He fails to recognize that because of his position, these businesses were willing to pay," Ferland said. "They weren't making charitable donations to La Cosa Nostra."
Ferland also said Manocchio continued the extortion scheme even when he learned about the federal investigation.
"One would think this would be a tremendous wake-up call," Ferland said. "But in reality the scheme never missed a beat. That shows a degree of lack of respect for the law."
Manocchio pleaded guilty in February to racketeering conspiracy. In a plea agreement with government two other counts of extortion were dropped.
Prosecutors say the shakedown scheme netted the crime family up to $1.5 million since the early ‘90s.
Copyright WPRI 12
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