Former New England mafia captain Robert (Bobby the Cigar) DeLuca flipped in 2006 upon being released from a decade-long federal prison sentence, not 2009 as previously believed, according to a letter written by DeLuca himself to the court in a plea for leniency in his sentencing hearing this week and a report on the letter by a Providence, Rhode Island television station (WPRI Channel 12). Boston U.S. District Court Judge Denise Casper hit Bobby the Cigar with a five and a half-year prison term Tuesday.

The 72-year old DeLuca was the star witness at the murder trial of his one-time best friend and boss in the mob, 1990s Patriarca crime family don Francis (Cadillac Frank) Salemme earlier this summer. Salemme was found guilty in June of ordering the 1993 execution of his business partner and Boston nightclub owner Stevie DiSarro. DeLuca admitted to being in charge of DiSarro’s burial in the wake of the unearthing of DiSarro’s remains behind a converted Providence mill building in March 2016.

By the time DiSarro’s body was exhumed, both DeLuca and Salemme were in the Witness Protection Program. They had been busted together for racketeering in 1995. Cadillac Frank turned government informant four years later in 1999 while serving his prison term.

Prior to this recent revelation, it appeared DeLuca jumped sides in 2009 when he wired up and began helping the FBI build an extortion case against the upper echelon of the New England mob. Bobby the Cigar disappeared into the “Program” in 2011 once the case dropped and relocated to Florida. Now, it’s known, via DeLuca’s own admission, he started cooperating with the Rhode Island State Police immediately following getting sprung from the can in the mid-2000s.

In the last two years, DeLuca has pleaded guilty to conspiracy and perjury in the DiSarro slaying — he denied knowledge of the crime in his initial debriefing with the feds in 2009 — and for playing a role in the unsolved 1992 mob hit of Patriarca crime family enforcer Kevin Hanrahan, who was shot to death leaving a steak dinner with DeLuca crew members in Providence’s Federal Hill neighborhood. He will be sentenced this week.

Hoping for a sentence of time served, DeLuca penned a letter Judge Casper last week telling the court he had found religion and actually denounced his life in the mob the moment he left prison for the first time 12 years ago.

“I’m not making excuses for what I’ve done. I know it was wrong. I am sorry for it and I take full responsibility for it. (But you should know) Before I got out of prison (on my racketeering conviction from the 1990s), I had denounced the mafia and was helping out the Rhode Island State Police,” he wrote.

Award-winning WPRI Target 12 investigative reporter Tim White pointed out in his story on the letter that it was in 2006 when DeLuca left prison and began working at a local Providence eatery called Sidebar owned by his lawyer.

“I went and got saved (by God),” DeLuca wrote. “I was going to be baptized (in Florida in 2016) and then I got arrested….It will be one of the first things I do when I get out.”

DeLuca has been in custody since the summer of 2016. He was on the stand for a whole week in the Salemme trial. Salemme and Stevie DiSarro had fallen out over DiSarro’s skimming from the South Boston strip club they co-owned and Salemme’s belief he was about to cooperate with the FBI. Per DeLuca, a Boston-stationed Salemme ordered the murder of Providence-based Kevin Hanrahan months before DiSarro was strangled to death at Cadillac Frank’s Massachusetts home because Hanrahan was planning on killing him and other top members of the Patriarcas.

Hanrahan was gunned down on the night of September 18, 1992. A grand jury has been impaneled since last year hearing testimony on Hanrahan’s homicide. DeLuca has reportedly implicated Salemme, Salemme’s successor as Patriarca clan, Godfather Luigi (Baby Shacks) Manocchio and incarcerated Providence mafia capo Edward (Little Eddie) Lato in the Hanrahan hit. Manocchio, today 90 years old and retired from the mob, and Lato, were nailed in the 2011 case DeLuca helped construct around a long-running strip-club shakedown scam. Lato, 71, is slated for release next year, while Manocchio got out of prison in 2015.

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