The head of the New England Mafia has agreed to plead guilty in federal court in Rhode Island on Thursday to taking part in an extortion plot, according to court documents filed Wednesday. It was the latest blow to a criminal organization that continues to see its power erode.
Anthony L. DiNunzio, 53, of East Boston, the younger brother of convicted mobster Carmen “The Cheese Man” DiNunzio, would be the sixth consecutive boss or acting boss of the area faction of La Cosa Nostra to be convicted.
The younger DiNunzio could serve 63 to 78 months in prison under an agreement reached with federal prosecutors, who have asked that he serve the high end of that range.
Through the agreement, he will admit that he was the head of the New England La Cosa Nostra and that he ordered collection payments for his organization’s protection of strip clubs in Rhode Island.
DiNunzio is slated to plead guilty before US District Court Judge William E. Smith in federal court in Providence to a charge of conspiracy to participate in a racketeering enterprise. In exchange, prosecutors have dismissed a charge of extortion and several counts of travel in aid of racketeering. He faced up to 20 years in prison on the conspiracy charge.
Prosecutors and his lawyer, Robert Sheketoff, would not comment on the plea agreement Wednesday.
DiNunzio was arrested at the Gemini Social Club in the North End in April, and was ordered held without bail after prosecutors said he would be a risk of flight and a danger to the community. After the arrest, authorities introduced evidence during a detention hearing that showed him bragging that he would enforce his authority as a mob boss by burying opponents alive.
DiNunzio allegedly took over control of the New England Mafia around late 2009. But he was quickly ensnared in a case that originated in Rhode Island more than two years ago, and which was part of a national sweep of Mafia figures that began in January 2011, the largest roundup of Mafia figures of its kind in history.
In the Rhode Island case, several Mafia figures, including DiNunzio’s predecessor, acting boss Luigi “Louie” Manocchio, and their associates were accused of and later pleaded guilty to extorting thousands of dollars in protection payments from strip clubs, including the Satin Doll and the Cadillac Lounge.
Manocchio, who is in his 80s, yielded his power after his arrest. For a short time, according to law enforcement officials, Peter Limone, one of the men vindicated after serving 33 years in prison for a gangland murder he did not commit, assumed the role of acting boss. Limone was later arrested and convicted in Massachusetts state court on bookmaking charges.
Authorities said Anthony DiNunzio, whose criminal record includes an extortion conviction, then took control over the New England Mafia, overseeing operations in Boston and Rhode Island.
The prosecutors also said he ordered the continuation of the collection of extortion payments from the strip clubs, which ranged from $2,000 to $6,000 a month.
“As soon as I took over, I changed everything,” he allegedly told an associate soon after taking over leadership.Milton J. Valencia can be reached at MValencia@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @MiltonValencia.