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Last Updated: Monday, 8 January 2007, 12:40 GMT
Warrant for British 'mafia wife'
Bernardo Provenzano is taken to a police building in Palermo, southern Italy
Rinzivillo was said to be second to mafia boss Bernardo Provenzano
Police in Italy have confirmed an arrest warrant is out for the wife of a Mafia boss accused of running a crime empire from her Manchester home.

Ann Hathaway, 44, who is married to "Godfather" Antonio Rinzivillo, is wanted for alleged mafia association by the Italian authorities.

The warrant follows the arrest of 88 others by investigators.

The mother of two is alleged to have carried on her husband's criminal activities after he was jailed.

We believe she was acting as the messenger between her husband in prison and other jailed members of the gang and people on the outside
Rocco Ligouri
Italian prosecutor

It is believed she moved back to the UK from Rome before Christmas and is living near her family in Middleton.

Nine women were among those arrested in the operation, which centred on Gela, in Sicily.

Ms Hathaway's arrest warrant was signed by Gela-based investigating magistrate Gianbattista Iona on 12 December. Interpol is now dealing with the case.

Police in Sicily said the mafia association related to alleged money laundering.

Rocco Ligouri, the Italian prosecutor in charge of the investigation, said: "The charge that Ann Hathaway faces is one of Mafia association.

"We believe that she was acting as the messenger between her husband in prison and other jailed members of the gang and people on the outside.

"We believe that she was involved in money laundering through pizzerias and building contractors."

'Number two'

At one stage her husband's power was so great he was said to be the Mafia's number two behind Bernardo Provenzano, who was arrested earlier this year after more than 40 years on the run.

Rinzivillo is serving 30 years in prison for murder and drug trafficking. He was sentenced after being convicted of the murder of a Milan lawyer, Antonio Mirabelle.

Italian police also seized more than 14m in family assets including two building companies, a supermarket, pizzeria and two haulage firms as part of the operation.

Court documents details intercepted telephone conversations in which Ms Hathaway is named as being the recipient of thousands of pounds.

The Rinzivillo family has been under investigation for two years after a blackmail victim came forward.

Officers codenamed the operation Choice Cuts because one of the family's alleged money laundering firms was a meat wholesaler.

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22 Nov 06 |  Europe

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