The nature of the crime was a throwback to the heyday of the Mafia: Two members of La Cosa Nostra extorted protection payments from a video poker company and threatened the manager of a Revere lodge who no longer wanted to do business with the company.
Only the crime was still occurring in 2012, and prosecutors sought to send a message to an aging gangster Monday that such threats he has used in the past should no longer occur in today’s society.
“This way of doing business, this way of life, no longer exists,” Assistant US Attorney Timothy E. Moran told US District Chief Judge Patti B. Saris, in the case of Anthony Spagnolo.
“In his 70s, Mr. Spagnolo has not gotten that message,” Moran said.
Spagnolo, also known as Spucky and Crazy Eyes, was sentenced to 20 months in federal prison. Moran had asked that he serve 24 months. Spagnolo’s lawyer, Joshua Hanye, had asked that Spagnolo, 74, be sentenced to probation, based on his age, but the judge said the Revere resident was still committing crimes under the guise of the New England Mafia, even at his advanced age.
“You look like a frail older gentleman,” the judge said, but, “there’s a reason people were making payments to you. It’s because they were scared of you.”
Spagnolo, who prosecutors said once served as acting head of the New England Mafia, and fellow reputed member Pryce Quintina were arrested in October 2014 on extortion charges, as part of an ongoing State Police and FBI investigation into Mafia activities.
Authorities said that for years they had been collecting tens of thousands of dollars in protection payments from Constitution Vending Co. The payments sought to ensure that local social clubs including the Moose Lodge, the VFW Mottola Post, and the Italian American Club in Revere installed the company’s video poker machines.
And in this case, the protection payments worked. When the manager of the Moose Lodge attempted to replace Constitution’s aging machines with new ones, part of an attempt to revitalize the club, Spagnolo and Quintina told him the machines “were not going anywhere,” what the manager perceived as a threat by two men connected to the Mafia. The two men pleaded guilty in December. Quintina, who is 76 and lives in Revere, was sentenced to 15 months in prison in March. Prosecutors sought a tougher sentence for Spagnolo based on his leadership role in the Mafia.
Both men represent the old guard of the Patriarca crime family, their service dating back to the Mafia’s glory days, when the late underboss Gennaro Angiulo controlled the Boston underworld from the 1960s to the early 1980s.
Spagnolo has a lengthy criminal history. He pleaded guilty to numerous racketeering and drug dealing charges in 1991 and was sentenced to nine years. Quintina was sentenced in 1995 to 7½ years. He was charged with setting up Angelo Patrizzi for murder in 1981, though he pleaded guilty to racketeering charges in an agreement with prosecutors.
Spagnolo and Quintina have shown their loyalties before, maintaining in court hearings in the early 1990s that they were not “made” members of any crime family, even as they pleaded guilty to Mafia-related activities. Both men were reportedly at the infamous October 1989 Mafia induction meeting in Medford that was secretly recorded by the FBI.
Spagnolo did not address Saris directly on Monday, but Hanye sought to downplay the extortion, saying it occurred only once and was an economic threat, not a physical threat. He added that the protection payment “was a particular agreement that had been going on (with the Mafia) for many years, before Mr. Spagnolo was involved.”
But Moran argued that Spagnolo carried out a real threat, the type that occurred in the area underworld for years.
“There was a belief that, even at age 70, Mr. Spagnolo could make things happen,” Moran said.