U.S. Department of Justice
Peter F. Neronha
United States Attorney
District of Rhode Island
August 25, 2010
Wife and Son of Organized Crime Figure Plead Guilty to Interstate Extortion
PROVIDENCE, R.I. – Dorothy St. Laurent, 71, of Johnston, R.I., and her son Anthony St. Laurent, Jr., 44, of Cranston, R.I., pleaded guilty Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Providence to interstate extortion, in violation of the Hobbs Act. The wife and son of Anthony St. Laurent, Sr., a person identified by law enforcement as a member of organized crime, were charged in a federal complaint in February with extorting payments from bookmakers in the Taunton, Mass. area on behalf of Anthony St. Laurent, Sr.
The guilty pleas were announced by U.S. Attorney Peter F. Neronha; Assistant Attorney General Lanny A. Breuer of the Department of Justice’s Criminal Division; and Richard DesLauriers, Special Agent in Charge of the Boston field office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The pleas were entered before U.S. District Court Judge William E. Smith.
At the defendants’ change of plea hearings, Trial Attorney Scott Lawson of the Department of Justice’s Organized Crime and Racketeering Section told the court, had the matter proceeded to trial, the government would have presented evidence that beginning at least as early as 1988 and continuing through early February 2009, Dorothy St. Laurent and Anthony St. Laurent, Jr., conspired with each other, Anthony St. Laurent, Sr. and others, to extort "protection" payments from a group of illegal bookmakers operating in and around Taunton, Mass. The extortion of these bookmakers was accomplished through exploitation of Anthony St. Laurent, Sr.’s position and status in organized crime - more precisely, the New England branch of La Cosa Nostra (LCN), also known as the Patriarca crime family. Using his position in organized crime and the accompanying fear and threat of violence that status conveyed, St. Laurent Sr. coerced the bookmakers to pay protection money for the privilege of operating their bookmaking businesses.
The government’s evidence includes a number of conversations recorded by the FBI in late 2008 and early 2009 that capture Dorothy St. Laurent and Anthony St. Laurent, Jr. in conversation with a cooperating witness as they discuss efforts to maintain the extortion scheme, which, at that time, was generating $4100 in cash collected by Dorothy St. Laurent every 2 weeks. The plea agreement stipulates that the defendants extorted in excess of $800,000 and less than $1.5 million.
Anthony St. Laurent, Sr. functioned as the overall leader of this scheme, with Dorothy St. Laurent serving as the primary collection agent of the cash payments provided by the bookmakers. Anthony St. Laurent, Jr.'s role was to both threaten violence and on at least one occasion, engage in actual violence to enforce continued payment, a role made more important during his father's frequent periods of incarceration.
Anthony St. Laurent Sr.’s participation in this extortion scheme predates the involvement of his wife and son. The government’s evidence shows that illegal bookmakers in the Taunton area were forced to make payments to the New England LCN beginning at least as early as the 1970's. One of the bookmakers involved would have testified that he met with St. Laurent, Sr. sometime in the early 1970's and was informed that he would have to pay $150 week to continue to take bets. St. Laurent, Sr. threatened the bookmaker, threatening that if he caught this individual taking bets without paying protection, he would cut his hands off.
Dorothy and Anthony St. Laurent, Jr. are scheduled to be sentenced on December 10, 2010. Anthony St. Laurent, Sr., is detained awaiting trial on a charge of solicitation to commit murder-for-hire and on this matter.
Assistant U.S. Attorney William J. Ferland is assisting in the prosecution of this case.
The matter was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), with the assistance of Rhode Island State Police and the Providence Police Department.