No bail for reputed Mafia leader in Rhode Island extortion
Edward Lato, 64, has 18 convictions
PROVIDENCE - A federal judge ordered the alleged capo of the New England mafia’s Rhode Island crew held without bail yesterday after his defense lawyer said that making a case for freedom would be futile at this point.
“You don’t try to fight the battles you can’t win,’’ Mark L. Smith said after his client, Edward Lato, 64, was ordered held until his strip club extortion case goes to trial.
Lato is accused of trying to extort the Cadillac Lounge and Desire even after alleged former mob boss Luigi “Baby Shacks’’ Manocchio, 83, was arrested in January on charges that he spent decades shaking down strip clubs in the Providence area for $2 million in “protection’’ payments. Lato denies the charges.
Manocchio has pleaded not guilty and is also jailed while awaiting trial.
Mob associate Thomas Iafrate, 70, who was arrested in January with Manocchio, pleaded guilty in July to racketeering conspiracy and awaits sentencing next month.
Smith told reporters that Lato’s 1999 federal conviction for extortion and racketeering conspiracy made it too difficult to make a case for bail.
Lato and federal codefendant Alfred “Chippy’’ Scivola, 70, are also accused in state court of participating in an illegal sports betting ring.
Federal prosecutors say that Scivola is a “made’’ member of the mob. He was scheduled to appear in US District Court in Providence yesterday.
Magistrate Judge David L. Martin said he based the detention decision about Lato on the weight of the evidence; the incriminating statements prosecutors attribute to him; his criminal record, including 18 convictions, among them eight felonies; and his history of engaging in criminal activity while under government supervision.
Martin also cited accusations that Lato was fixated on getting Providence-area strip clubs to resume extortion payments after Manocchio was locked up.
“We better get that back,’’ Lato is quoted in an indictment as saying about the Cadillac Lounge. “I don’t . . . know how we are going to get that back.’’
Lato is also accused of crossing into Massachusetts to meet with high-level Mafia members in violation of a state court bail order prohibiting him from leaving Rhode Island.
Federal prosecutors also say he participated in a plot to extort $25,000 from an unidentified debtor.
Lato, Scivola, and two alleged mob associates - Raymond “Scarface’’ Jenkins, 47, and Albino “Albi’’ Folcarelli, 53 - were arrested last week. They are being held at the Donald W. Wyatt Detention Facility in Central Falls.
Jenkins and Folcarelli are charged in an alleged extortion scheme on an unidentified debtor. They deny the charges.
Federal prosecutors wrote in a motion for Lato’s detention that an unidentified mob member cooperated with the investigation. They say the evidence includes recordings from wiretaps and surveillance.
Richard Bonafiglia, 57, and Theodore Cardillo, 67, both mob associates, were indicted earlier this year in the case and have pleaded not guilty. Prosecutors say Bonafiglia and Cardillo kept Manocchio informed of goings-on at the Cadillac Lounge, where they worked as a bouncer and manager, respectively.