Current New England mafia captain Edward (Little Eddie) Lato and former New England mafia boss Francis (Cadillac Frank) Salemme and their alleged involvement in a gangland murder in Rhode Island 25 years ago are the subjects of a federal grand jury impaneled in Providence this spring, per sources with  knowledge of the proceedings. Authorities believe Salemme ordered and Lato participated in the September 18, 1992 slaying of renegade mob enforcer Kevin Hanrahan in Providence’s historic Federal Hill neighborhood.

Both Lato and Salemme are in prison. Lato, a 70-year old capo out of Providence, is nearing the end of a ten-year term for racketeering and extortion (he can be seen in this article’s featured image). The 84-year old Salemme, who is from Boston and served as the New England region’s Godfather in the first half of the 1990s before getting busted and entering the Witness Protection Program later in the decade, was yanked out of the program last summer and arrested for his role in the May 1993 murder of Beantown nightclub impresario and mob associate Stevie DiSarro. He’s pled not guilty and is awaiting trial.

Investigators have been chipping away at cracking the cold-case Hanrahan hit for the last several years. It was discovered in 2010 that the notoriously fearless and hardheaded Hanrahan was trying to shakedown bookmakers in Southeastern Massachusetts already paying protection to Providence mafia figures. Informants have told the FBI that Salemme was alerted of the indiscretion and days later after a lump-sum tribute payment was delivered to a Salemme lieutenant, Hanrahan was shot to death leaving a dinner with a group of mob associates at a Federal Hill steakhouse. Because the 39-year old Hanrahan was Irish, he could never be initiated into the Italian mafia in New England.

The DiSarro case got brought due to a cooperation deal struck with local Providence drug dealer and mob associate Billy Ricci in early 2016. Ricci pointed the feds to DiSarro’s remains buried on his property, dumped there 23 years before by Salemme’s underboss and representative in Rhode Island, Robert (Bobby the Cigar) DeLuca and his brother Joe, who each cut their own respective deals with the government.

DeLuca, 72, had already been in the Witness Protection Program for five years living in Florida. DiSarro, 43, was partners with Salemme in a South Boston bar and music venue and was cooperating with the FBI and IRS in their probing Salemme’s business affairs.

Bobby the Cigar also clued the feds in on details from the Hanrahan homicide. Whether that will be enough for prosecutors to bring charges in the case remains to be seen. Per sources, DeLuca has told investigators that Salemme set the hit in motion, assigning him responsibility for coordinating the specifics, which he did with the help of Little Eddie Lato and deceased Providence wiseguys Ronald (Rum-Shot Ronnie) Coppola and Rocco (Shaky) Argenti. Coppola was DeLuca’s best friend and right-hand man, while Argenti was being fast tracked to mafia administration status in the area.

Kevin Hanrahan

On the night he was killed, Hanrahan dined with Coppola and a group of friends at The Arch restaurant on Atwells Avenue in the heart of Federal Hill, Rhode Island’s Little Italy and a longtime hotbed of mob activity. He left the meal at around 11:30 p.m., telling his tablemates he was on his way to collect on a “big score.”

The purported purpose of the meal was for Coppola to ask Hanrahan if Hanrahan would christen his child and used in hopes of getting him to lower his guard, liquored up and “lulled to sleep,” according to sources. Reputed drug dealer and mob associate Paul Calenda was at the dinner that evening and is allegedly one of those subpoenaed to appear in front of the grand jury.

Hanrahan arranged to hook back up with Coppola at Jimmy Burchfield’s Classic Restaurant down the street after midnight for a late-night drink. He never raised a glass, nor even stepped in the door.

Coppola also pretended to be the middleman in arranging for Hanrahan to cash in on his “big score,” telling him to go see Lato outside The Arch, two sources claim – in return for helping set Hanrahan up for the kill, Coppola was promised a button, induction into the Patriarca crime family, per these sources. Lato walked Hanrahan to his slaughte and Argenti, with DeLuca by his side, gunned down Hanrahan at point-blank range with multiple shots to the head, face and neck less than a block away from the restaurant, DeLuca has told prosecutors.

Hanrahan was pronounced dead at the hospital. Lato, Coppola and DeLuca were observed huddling together in a booth at Jimmy Burchfield’s in the minutes after Hanrahan got banged out, as ambulance-sirens blared and police combed the area searching for evidence.

Coppola was killed the following spring inside his own social club in Cranston, Rhode Island, shot to death over a a beef at a card game before he could ever get straightened out himself as reward for the Hanrahan job. Argenti rose to be the Patriarca clan’s consigliere prior to succumbing to cancer in 2002.

Cadillac Frank Salemme in a mug shot from the 1970s

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