PROVIDENCE, R.I. – A suspected mob associate accused of helping a reputed former New England mob boss run an extortion scheme will remain in custody pending trial, a federal judge ordered Friday.

U.S. District Court Judge William E. Smith upheld a magistrate judge’s decision to deny Richard Bonafiglia bail. Smith agreed with the magistrate judge’s conclusion that Bonafiglia, who has a long criminal history, is a danger to the community and, in particular, to potential witnesses against him.

Prosecutors say Bonafiglia helped the suspected former leader of New England’s Patriarca crime family, Luigi “Baby Shacks” Manocchio, extort protection payments from the Rhode Island strip club, the Cadillac Lounge, where he worked as a bouncer.

Bonafiglia, 57, has pleaded not guilty to conspiracy charges in the case. His attorney, Robert Mann, declined to comment.

Mann argued during the appeal that expletive-laden surveillance recordings of Bonafiglia played by prosecutors do not suggest a propensity for violence, but rather reflect his way of talking.

“His language is crude and from the street,” Mann said. “That doesn’t make him a threat to society.”

In intercepted conversations in the office of the Cadillac Lounge, Bonafiglia is heard screaming at an unknown man over the telephone, telling him to keep quiet or “I will come there and cut your throat.”

“The transcripts show explicit threats to kill people, don’t they?” Smith asked.

“It’s just language,” Mann said.

“Until you kill someone it’s all just language, right? It’s all just talk,” Smith said.

Prosecutors say Bonafiglia was placed at the Cadillac Lounge to enforce Manocchio’s extortion scheme, which they say totaled several thousand dollars a month.

The bouncer described himself to other club employees as “the eyes and ears of that guy up at the hill,” said William Ferland, a federal prosecutor. He said that referred to Manocchio, 83, who lived in the Federal Hill neighborhood of Providence.

Bonafiglia has been named in an indictment, along with Manocchio and two other club employees. Manocchio also has been denied bail.


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