Anthony L. Dinunzio, 53, of East Boston, Mass., the alleged leader of the New England organized crime family of La Cosa Nostra (NELCN), was arrested today on racketeering and extortion charges.
The arrest and charges were announced by Assistant Attorney General Lanny A. Breuer of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division; Peter F. Neronha, U.S. Attorney for the District of Rhode Island; Richard Deslauriers, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI’s Boston Field Office; Colonel Steven G. O’Donnell, Superintendent of the Rhode Island State Police; and Providence Public Safety Commissioner Steven M. Pare.
Dinunzio was ordered detained following an initial appearance in U.S. District Court in Providence, R.I. A third superseding indictment returned on April 24, 2012, and unsealed today in the District of Rhode Island, alleges, among other things, that Dinunzio and other leaders, members and associates of the NELCN extorted protection payments from adult entertainment businesses in Rhode Island.
“According to the indictment unsealed today, as the leader of the New England LCN for more than two years, Mr. Dinunzio used fear and intimidation to control the corrupt activities of his criminal enterprise,” said Assistant Attorney General Breuer. “Among other charged criminal conduct, he allegedly asked an LCN member to extort a businessman in the adult entertainment industry and told others he would use violence against insubordinates. These charges are another step in our unrelenting efforts to stamp out the mafia.”
“This superseding indictment is the latest in a step by step, block by block, effort by this office, our partners in the Department of Justice’s Criminal Division, the FBI, the Rhode Island State Police and the Providence Police Department to charge, prosecute and send to federal prison long-time members of, and in particular, the leadership of, organized crime,” said U.S. Attorney Neronha.
“The FBI and its law enforcement partners have shattered Omerta, the New England LCN’s code of silence. In doing so , we have severely disrupted their criminal activity,” said FBI SAC DesLauriers. “Our persistent, methodical, and unyielding investigation of those who are part of the LCN and other groups will not stop. Looking forward, organized crime groups and transnational criminal enterprises are emerging from every corner of the globe. Through our task-force and intelligence based model, our joint efforts will continue to disrupt and dismantle emerging organized crime syndicates to prevent their entrenchment in our communities.”
Dinunzio is charged with one count each of racketeering and extortion, and five counts of travel in aid of racketeering. Since January 2011, he is the ninth alleged leader, underboss, member or associate of the NELCN to be indicted by a federal grand jury in Providence on federal racketeering and related charges. Five of the defendants, including admitted longtime former NELCN underboss and boss Luigi Manocchio and admitted capo regime Edward Lato, have pleaded guilty and are detained while awaiting sentencing. A sixth defendant pleaded guilty and was sentenced on Dec. 12, 2011, to 30 months in prison.
The third superseding indictment alleges that Anthony Dinunzio, a member and capo of the NELCN, assumed a leadership role of the NELCN in late 2009 and early 2010, and ultimately became the acting boss. This superseding indictment alleges that Dinunzio participated with other NELCN members and associates in a racketeering conspiracy in which monthly cash payments for protection of $2,000 to $6,000 were demanded from the owners and operators of several adult entertainment businesses in Rhode Island. Several of those NELCN members and associates have previously pleaded guilty to racketeering charges. This superseding indictment also alleges that on several occasions, at Dinunzio’s direction, crime family members from New England, New York and New Jersey were consulted with and/or traveled to Massachusetts to discuss various criminal activities and crime family matters. Dinunzio also allegedly directed NELCN members to travel to various locations, including New York, for meetings to discuss various criminal activities and crime family matters.
According to this indictment, it is alleged that one such meeting occurred on Nov. 3, 2009, in Boston, at a wake of an NELCN member’s mother, and later that same evening at a local restaurant. During these meetings, Dinunzio and another NELCN member allegedly discussed, among other things, the distribution of proceeds from the extortion of the Rhode Island adult entertainment businesses. Dinunzio allegedly indicated that a portion of those extorted monies would now be coming to him and to the NELCN leadership in Boston. Previously, as alleged, the money had been going to former Rhode Island NELCN boss Luigi Manocchio who had stepped down as boss in 2009.
In addition, this indictment alleges that in late 2009 or early 2010, Dinunzio asked another NELCN member to extort money from a prominent businessman in the adult entertainment industry in Rhode Island, who had paid protection money to the Gambino crime family from New York over the years. Dinunzio allegedly dispatched an NELCN member to New York to meet with Gambino crime family members on several occasions to receive Gambino family permission to extort money from the businessman for businesses he was operating in New England.
According to this indictment, it is alleged that on June 22, 2011, Dinunzio met with a senior made member of the Gambino crime family at a restaurant in Malden, Mass. Dinunzio allegedly discussed the extortion of the Rhode Island strip clubs, indicating that “it is still going.” Dinunzio also discussed a May 5, 2011, FBI search of his person and the seizure of $5,000 cash in alleged protection money paid by Rhode Island businesses and brought to him by a NELCN leader from Rhode Island.
In this June 22, 2011, meeting with a senior Gambino crime family member, Dinunzio allegedly discussed the rules for joining the NELCN. In discussing a fellow LCN member, Dinunzio allegedly stated, “You know what I can’t understand? How the hell did he get made, because he’s half Irish…I don’t understand that...that’s not the rules…you gotta do one hundred percent (Italian).” Referring to a person sponsored for membership, Dinunzio allegedly stated, ‘I said he’s good.’ For ten years he waited. Then he come and see me and said ‘Thank you Anthony. You know I’m with you all the way.’ He deserved it though.”
According to this indictment, at the same June 22, 2010, meeting with a senior Gambino crime family member, Dinunzio allegedly discussed his NELCN leadership style stating, “As soon as I took over I changed everything. One guy… ‘What if nobody wants to listen to you?’ ‘I said you’re shelved.’ He said ‘What if they don’t wanna get shelved?’ ‘Well then you and I get to watch you die in the ground….I’ll bury you right in the [expletive] ground puts all the dirt. You’re alive. They stay there. I’ll stay there [expletive] 10 hours until you’re dead. And I’ll dig you back up and make sure you’re dead.’”
The indictment alleges that Dinunzio continued to be concerned about the investigation, arrests of other members and possible government cooperators in the case. The third superseding indictment alleges that despite these concerns, he continued to try to get other members to assist in running the Rhode Island part of the criminal enterprise. At one point, during a Dec. 7, 2011, meeting with a senior Gambino made member, Dinunzio allegedly commented, “If I go to the can. I’m still the boss…no matter what.”
An indictment is merely an allegation and is not evidence of guilt. A defendant is entitled to a fair trial in which it will be the government’s burden to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.
The cases are being prosecuted by Trial Attorney Sam Nazzaro of the Criminal Division’s Organized Crime and Gang Section and Assistant U.S. Attorney William J. Ferland for the District of Rhode Island. The matter is being investigated by the FBI, Rhode Island State Police and the Providence Police Department.