PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) - The reputed former leader of New England's Patriarca crime family was arrested in Florida and a bookkeeper was picked up in Rhode Island on charges that accuse them of extorting money from Providence strip clubs, part of a huge FBI crackdown on organized crime in the Northeast.
Luigi "Baby Shacks" Manocchio, who investigators say had been a longtime mob boss, was arrested Wednesday in Fort Lauderdale. The 83-year-old extorted nearly $3,000 in protection payments from strip clubs including the Satin Doll and the Cadillac Lounge, according to an indictment unsealed Thursday.
Also arrested was Thomas Iafrate, the bookkeeper for the strip clubs. Prosecutors said Iafrate, who was scheduled to appear in federal court in Providence later Thursday, collected and set aside the protection money for Manocchio.
Both men are charged with extortion and extortion conspiracy. Authorities said the money was extorted through force, violence and fear.
"The investigation and the case are not over," said Peter Neronha, the U.S. attorney for Rhode Island. "This is not the end of what we expect to do in connection with this investigation."
Federal agents last summer raided the Cadillac Lounge, but Neronha declined to comment on how the raids were connected to the indictment.
The arrests were part of what authorities say is one of the largest Mafia crackdowns in FBI history. All five of New York's five major crime families were targeted, and more than 120 organized crime associates face charges including murder, extortion and narcotics trafficking.
Manocchio has long denied having mob ties, and it was unclear if he had a lawyer. His criminal record dates back to the 1940s.
Manocchio, a longtime familiar presence on Providence's Federal Hill, was implicated in a 1968 double murder of underworld figures, but his conviction was overturned by the state Supreme Court. He later pleaded guilty to conspiracy.
In 2000, he pleaded guilty to misdemeanor counts of conspiracy and receiving stolen property as part of a burglary ring that operated throughout New England. He was sentenced to probation.
The mafia has had a diminished presence in Rhode Island following the 1984 death of purported crime boss Raymond "L.S." Patriarca.
(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)