"Cadillac Frank" Yanked from Witness Protection, Arrested for Murder

Francis “Cadillac Frank” Salemme, a top-level member of the New England Mafia, was arrested having been charged with murdering a witness
"Cadillac Frank" during 1995 arrest.

Francis “Cadillac Frank” Salemme, a former top-level member of the New England Mafia who flipped to testify against notorious Irish mob boss James "Whitey" Bulger, was yanked out of Witness Protection and arrested today, having been charged with murdering a witness.

Salemme is to appear today at 3 p.m. before a Boston-based U.S. District Court, U.S. Attorney Carmen M. Ortiz’s office said.

Salemme is charged with the May 10, 1993 murder of South Boston nightclub manager Steven A. DiSarro. Salemme and his son, who has since died, were long suspected of being behind the murder.

DiSarro’s remains were found earlier this year in Providence.

Notorious gangster Stephen “The Rifleman” Flemmi told federal and state authorities in 2003 that he walked in on the murder, said to have occurred within Salemme’s ex-wife's home.

Salemme had been living in Atlanta, Ga., under the name of Richard Parker when he was arrested. He entered the witness protection program after cooperating against former Winter Hill boss James "Whitey" Bulger.

Mobster's June Arrest

Rhode Island mobster Robert P. DeLuca Sr. was arrested this past June on charges that he had thwarted an investigation into the 1993 murder of a South Boston nightclub manager named Steven A. DiSarro, whose remains were found a few months prior in Providence.

South Boston nightclub manager Steven A. DiSarro was missing since 1993.
His murdered remains were found earlier this year.

An indictment unsealed in US District Court in Boston this past June charged DeLuca with obstruction of justice, plus two counts of lying to the Feds about the DiSarro murder, as well as the additional murders of unnamed victims.

At the time, DeLuca, 70, was arrested by the FBI working with Rhode Island and Massachusetts State Police in Broward County, Fla. The longtime New England Mafia capo appeared in federal court in Fort Lauderdale, and was ordered held without bail until a hearing.

He allegedly had misled investigators after an earlier arrest, in February 2011, when he first agreed to cooperate with federal law enforcement authorities in an effort to obtain a lighter sentence. 

DiSarro’s remains were found March 31 of this year. They were located in a complex behind 715 Branch Ave. in Providence. The facility reportedly is owned by mob associate William L. Ricci.

An informant told investigators that DiSarro was buried there. 

DiSarro, 43, of Westwood, had been missing since 1993. No one was ever charged with his murder.

DeLuca's Deal

DeLuca made a deal five years previously, according to the June indictment, that said he had agreed to cooperate against former New England Mafia boss Luigi “Baby Shacks” Manocchio and others charged with extorting two Providence strip clubs.

DeLuca pleaded guilty to a single count of racketeering conspiracy in July 2011, and in 2014, he was sentenced to serve only a single day in prison.

DeLuca’s 2011 case remains under seal. However court documents indicate that a "cooperating witness" known only by the initials R.D. had worn a wire and taped conversations of various mobsters. 

DeLuca was not required to testify, since the cases ended in guilty pleas.

The indictment unsealed in June also alleged that DiSarro acquired The Channel, a former nightclub, sometimes in 1990-1991 -- and that New England Mafia boss Francis “Cadillac Frank” Salemme and his son, Frank, held a piece of the club.

On May 10, 1993, the Salemmes murdered DiSarro, then transported his body to Providence, where DeLuca "arranged to have the body buried in the vicinity of 715 Branch Ave.," according to the indictment.

Then during a June 23, 2011, interview with law enforcement, DeLuca “denied any knowledge regarding the disappearance and suspected murder” of DiSarro.

The indictment suggests other unsolved gangland murders also are under investigation. 

Another count against DeLuca alleges he lied when he "denied any knowledge of any other murders committed by members and associates" of the New England Cosa Nostra.

DeLuca was one of four soldiers inducted into the New England Mafia during a 1989 Medford ceremony that was bugged by the FBI.

Whitey Bulger in his prime, when he ratted out Italians....

He was also a codefendant in the 1995 federal racketeering case against Salemme as well as two notorious Boston gangsters: James "Whitey" Bulger and Stephen "The Rifleman" Flemmi.

In 2003, Flemmi told federal and state authorities that he walked in on the May 10, 1993, murder of DiSarro at the Sharon home of Francis Salemme’s former wife, according to a DEA report filed in Boston federal court.

Flemmi said Francis Salemme and two others watched as Salemme’s son, Frank, strangled DiSarro to death. Flemmi named the two other witnesses as Frank Salemme’s younger brother, John, and a friend named Paul Weadick.

Salemme later told Flemmi that DeLuca "was present during the burial" of DiSarro, according to the report, Flemmi said, adding that Salemme had expressed concern about DiSarro’s friendship with a law enforcement cooperator.

Salemme’s son died in 1995.

When Flemmi implicated "Cadillac Frank" in DiSarro’s murder, the former Mafia don was already in the Federal Witness Protection Program for cooperating with the prosecution of Bulger and FBI handler John J. Connolly Jr.

In 2008, Salemme was sentenced to five years in prison for lying and obstruction of justice for denying any knowledge of DiSarro’s murder; this occurred during plea negotiations in 1999 that resulted in the racketeering indictment against Salemme.

Salemme denied the allegation that he had watched his son strangle DiSarro, then helped dispose of his body. 

Cadillac Frank Once on Hit List

In a November 2013 trial, Enrico "Eric" Ponzo was convicted of several federal crimes, including the 1989 attempted assassination of "Cadillac Frank" Salemme, a top-level member of the New England Mafia amid a factional war that erupted when the Patriarca family finally fractured along a natural fault line that for decades had separated the Boston faction from the one in Providence, Rhode Island.

"Cadillac Frank" was supposed to be killed as part of a one, two punch to knock out the bosses of Providence's rival leadership.

As noted, during the war for dominance, many thought the real power in the family was William "The Wild Man" Grasso, who served as Raymond Patriarca, Jr's underboss.

Grasso's extensive criminal career made him one of the most feared mobsters in New England. A cunning, ruthless gangster, Grasso ran Connecticut-based crime operations for the Patriarcas from his New Haven headquarters since the mid-1970s.

Grasso, the Wild Man.... 

In June of 1989, Grasso's body was found in the Connecticut River. He'd been shot in the head.

Hours prior to the body's discovery, "Cadillac Frank" Salemme was shot in a Boston suburb by three gunmen, one of whom was Ponzo. Hit in the stomach and the knee, Salemme survived. The feud between Salemme and the man ultimately behind his shooting, J.R. Russo, continued until New York's Gambino crime family brokered a peace agreement that named a Salemme loyalist boss.

Nicholas Bianco, acting underboss after Grasso's death, was elevated to acting boss. In 1991, he was among the defendants tried for the Grasso murder.