Reputed mobster pleads guilty

The man who investigators say was Connecticut's highest-ranking Mafia member faces up to 6 1/2 years in prison after he pleaded guilty to racketeering and conspiracy.

Anthony "The Genius" Megale admitted that between November 2002 and September 2004 he conspired with others to collect monthly extortion payments and to operate several illegal gambling operations.

The 52-year-old Stamford resident was indicted last year along with more than a dozen other defendants. The indictment said Megale and others in Fairfield County would shake down business owners for monthly payoffs in exchange for protection.

Prosecutors said Megale collected about $60,000 in "protection" payments from two unidentified businessmen.

Megale was ordered to remain in jail until he is sentenced Dec. 23.

Most of the defendants indicted last year also have entered guilty pleas.

"I think we succeeded in putting a real dent in organized crime in Fairfield County," U.S. Attorney Kevin O'Connor said Tuesday. "I think this particular organization has been wounded, perhaps fatally."

Megale also faces charges in New York, where he was named in a 53-count indictment earlier this year alleging that he and other defendants made millions of dollars through extortion, loan sharking, illegal gambling and other crimes during the past decade, AP reported.

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