A former mob enforcer in Rhode Island with ties to late New England crime boss Raymond L.S. Patriarca has died in a federal prison in North Carolina. Gerard T. Ouimette was 75.

The Federal Bureau of Prison's website reported that Ouimette, who had lived in Fall River, Massachusetts, died Sunday.

His nephew, Kevin Ouimette Lynch, tells the Providence Journal that his uncle was recently diagnosed with lung cancer and died in his sleep at a prison in Butner, North Carolina.

In 1996, Ouimette was convicted of extortion and became the first criminal in New England sentenced to life in prison under the federal "three strikes and you're out" provision for violent offenders.

Ouimette had more than 10 convictions during his criminal career, including one for punching an FBI agent.