Darin Bufalino - an enforcer for a crime ring allegedly led by Mark Rossetti, a reputed capo for the New England Mafia who has been identified as an FBI informant - pleaded guilty and was sentenced to seven years in prisTuesday for conspiracy and attempted extortion related to the crime ring’s rackets.
The sentence was handed down in Suffolk Superior Court just days after Bufalino was sentenced in Essex County to a separate seven-year term for an unrelated robbery at gunpoint of a landscaper. The two sentences will run concurrently.
He will also face five years of probation once he is released from prison for the attempted extortion conviction.
“This defendant was involved in an extensive and violent criminal enterprise operating in the Commonwealth, portions of which operated for decades,’’ said Attorney General Martha Coakley, whose office investigated the case with State Police and law enforcement officials from Essex County.
Bufalino, 51, of Winthrop, who has a history of convictions for violent crime, nodded to family members before his sentence was handed out Tuesday. He did not comment on the charges, and his family members did not comment.
Anthony M. Cardinale, his lawyer, said that Bufalino wanted to move on and end the cases.
He said that Bufalino decided not to challenge the extortion charges, which were related to the Rossetti ring, by using an argument that he could not be prosecuted for the crimes because they were done in association only with Rossetti. Past court decisions have established that a person cannot be prosecuted for a crime if it was done solely in association with someone who was cooperating with a law enforcement agency as an informant and who received approval for the crimes.
The decisions stem in part from federal court hearings in the late 1990s that exposed notorious mobster James “Whitey’’ Bulger’s scandalous relationship with the FBI.
The discovery that Rossetti was an informant for the FBI, first reported by the Globe last year, led to similar criticism and scrutiny of the FBI’s handling of Mafia figures as informants.
Cardinale said Bufalino did not want to pursue the challenge because he did not want a “tag-along case.’’ Bufalino was facing jail time for the Essex County conviction for armed robbery anyway, and the sentences will be served concurrently, so “it didn’t make sense’’ to risk a more severe sentence for the charges related to Rossetti, Cardinale said.
“He’s making the best of the situation that he’s facing,’’ said Cardinale. “But for that [Essex] case, he would have fought that.’’
Bufalino was one of some 30 members of the so-called Rossetti Organization arrested in fall 2010 on a variety of charges, including extortion, bookmaking, and drug dealing. About seven minor players in the organization have pleaded guilty and are serving probation sentences.
Dean Mazzone, assistant attorney general, said in court Tuesday that Bufalino was an “assistant and an associate’’ of Rossetti and collected gambling and loan debts, as well as protection money, for him.
Bufalino has a history of reputed Mafia affiliations. He purportedly worked as an enforcer for former New England Mafia boss Francis “Cadillac Frank’’ Salemme in the 1980s and was reportedly inducted into the Mafia in the past several years.
Rossetti’s case, on charges including drug dealing and extortion, is still pending. The FBI has not commented on his work for the agency as an informant, though public officials, including US Representative Stephen F. Lynch, have questioned whether the relationship was appropriate.