Former New England mafia captain and one-time underboss Robert (Bobby the Cigar) DeLuca pled guilty to murder conspiracy charges connected to the 1992 execution of fearsome mob enforcer Kevin Hanrahan late this week in federal court in Boston. He also pled guilty to lying to federal investigators five years ago when he entered the Witness Protection Program about his role in the 1993 gangland slaying of Boston nightclub owner and mob associate Stevie DiSarro.

Hanrahan was shot to death on the evening of April 18, 1992 in Providence, Rhode Island’s Federal Hill neighborhood minutes after leaving a dinner with DeLuca’s best friend Ronnie Coppola. The 71-year old DeLuca got hauled out of the “program” back in the summer, arrested for perjury in the DiSarro probe. Bobby the Cigar has admitted to burying DiSarro’s body behind a converted mill in Providence. DiSarro’s remains were exhumed in March. WPRI’s Target12 TV News’ Tim White, the area’s ranking area mobologist, reported DeLuca would cop to a role in Hanrahan’s murder three days ago.

The Godfather of the New England mafia in the early-to-mid 1990s, Francis (Cadillac Frank) Salemme, 83, was also arrested residing in the Witness Protection Program this past summer and has been charged with DiSarro’s murder – he’s pled not guilty. Salemme is considered a suspect in the Hanrahan hit, one of a slew of brazen homicides that he allegedly ordered his tenure on top of the mob. When Salemme, who lived in Beantown, became boss of the Patriarca crime family in 1990, he tapped DeLuca as his second-in-command and voice on the streets in Providence.

Hanrahan, an imposing collector and reputed hit man in the Patriarca brood dating back to the 1970s, was said to be feuding with Salemme and Providence wing capo Anthony (The Saint) St. Laurent in the weeks leading up to his slaying. According to FBI informants, Hanrahan, 39, tried shaking down a bookmaker in Taunton, Massachusetts already under St. Laurent’s protection for $100,000. The bookie is said to have informed St. Laurent who in turn had Salemme informed via his Southeastern Massachusetts liaison Gordon O’Brien.

St. Laurent, 75 years old and infirmed, was released in October from a 10-year prison term for extortion and attempted murder linked to his trying to hire two separate FBI informants to kill Bobby DeLuca. He died passed away from natural causes this week. O’Brien died of cancer in 2008.

The night he was killed, Hanrahan dined with DeLuca’s right-hand man and boyhood buddy Ronnie Coppola at the Arch, an upscale restaurant in the heart of Federal Hill. Hanrahan told Coppola and others at the meal he had a “big score” in the works and when he left for a meeting (per sources arranged by Coppola) he promised to reunite with the Coppola dinner party later on  at Jimmy Burchfield’s Classic Restaurant nearby for an after-hours drink.

Only steps out of the Arch’s doorway en route to what he presumed was his big score, Hanrahan heard a big bang: he was shot in the face and head with three bullets from close range. The boastful, tough-as-nails Irishman died an hour later at the hospital.

Instead of reconnecting with Hanrahan at Jimmy Burchfield’s, Ronnie Coppola was witnessed talking to DeLuca and Patriarca clan capo, Edward (Little Eddie) Lato in a corner booth less than a half hour after Hanrahan’s shooting. Coppola was killed in 1994 at a card game he ran in Cranston, Rhode Island by a fellow New England mobster he had booted from the game an hour earlier. Lato’s currently behind bars for another two and a half years on an extortion conviction

At the time of Hanrahan’s death, Hanrahan himself was the prime suspect in a number of high-profile underworld homicides, including the 1982 Federal Hill slaying of wiseguy Raymond (Slick) Vecchio and the 1984 strangling of Joan Carroll in Massachusetts. Carroll and Hanrahan sold drugs together.

Although DeLuca was No. 2 on the totem pole under Salemme’s reign in the 1990s, he was just a capo in the 2000s. Salemme went to prison in 1995 and flipped in 1999. DeLuca joined Team America in 2011 immediately after his arrest for extortion.

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