The long-brewing gangland feud between Providence mob captains Robert (Bobby the Cigar) DeLuca and Anthony (The Saint) St. Laurent can be traced back to an August 1996 discovery by an incarcerated DeLuca while reviewing evidence against him in a pending racketeering case he was eventually convicted in. DeLuca unearthed a gaffe in federal surveillance that alerted him that St. Laurent was most likely a confidential informant, news he would begin spreading around New England mafia circles drawing St. Laurent’s ire.

Bobby the Cigar, 72 years old today and slated to be a star witness at a well-publicized mob murder trial in Boston this month, survived a number of attempted murder contracts placed on his head by St. Laurent before joining the Witness Protection Program in 2011. An increasingly-ailing 75-year old St. Laurent died of natural causes in November 2016 only two weeks after getting out of prison for trying to have DeLuca killed at least three times.

Months prior to St. Laurent’s passing, the body of missing Boston nightclub owner Stevie DiSarro was unearthed at a converted textile mill in Providence. He vanished in May 1993, prosecutors contend, slain following a falling out with DeLuca’s one-time best friend, former New England mob boss Francis (Cadillac Frank) Salemme, who had been in the Witness Protection Program himself until his arrest in the summer of 2016. DeLuca pled guilty in the DiSarro murder conspiracy that fall, admitting he was tasked with burying DiSarro’s body, and will testify against Salemme in the coming weeks.

Salemme took over the Patriarca crime family in 1990. Based out of Boston, DeLuca acted as Cadillac Frank’s eyes and ears in Providence. They were nailed together in a 1995 racketeering indictment and were housed in neighboring cells at the Plymouth County Jail awaiting the case to find its way in front of a jury. Their pre-trial research triggered shocking revelations: By reviewing federal documents, Salemme realized his allies and childhood friends in the Irish mob, James (Whitey) Bulger and Stevie (The Rifleman) Flemmi, had been feeding the government information on him for years, and DeLuca noticed a suspicious line of dialogue in an FBI surveillance transcript of a meeting him and Cadillac Frank had with a New York mob capo, which appeared to out St. Laurent as a snitch.

Bulger and Flemmi ran the South Boston Winter Hill Gang and were controversial confidential informants for the FBI for two decades. The equally iconic and ruthless Bulger went on the lam for 16 years, finally caught living in California seven years ago and soon convicted in 11 murders, all as he was being immortalized as a gangland legend on the silver screen in the films, The Departed and Black Mass.

Flemmi was housed at the same correctional facility Salemme was at when he uncovered the truth. During their time in a holding cell together awaiting the start of a 1997 court hearing, Salemme physically attacked Flemmi in a fight that was broken up by DeLuca. Salemme was so dejected by the news of the betrayal, he flipped and agreed to testify against the corrupt FBI agent that operated Bulger and Flemmi as informants.

Flemmi furthered his cooperation with the government in 2003 and told the FBI that he walked in on Stevie DiSarro getting choked to death by Salemme’s son as Cadillac Frank oversaw the hit inside his own kitchen at the family’s Sharon, Massachusetts home. He’ll testify to what he saw this month at Salemme’s trial.

Back in their early days rising through the east coast underworld, Salemme had covered for Flemmi in a 1968 car bombing they did in tandem and he was forced to serve 15 years in prison for. Salemme and Flemmi were both mentored in the mob by deceased Boston capo Larry Zannino. Salemme’s son, Francis (Frankie Boy) Salemme, Jr., died of AIDS-related cancer two years after DiSarro’s slaying.

The same time Salemme was finding out about his buddies Bulger and Flemmi, Bobby DeLuca seized on a clerical error by the government in transcribing a wire installed to record a meeting between him, Salemme and Gambino crime family capo Natale (Big Chris) Richichi inside a Boston hotel suite. Richichi, back then the Gambino’s crew boss in Florida and Las Vegas, had flown into Massachusetts in December 1991 to negotiate a partnership for peep shows in a Boston red light district known as the Combat Zone that was controlled by the Patriarcas. Providence porn king Kenny Guarino brokered the sit down. Guarino would go on to be outed as an FBI informant in later years.

As DeLuca poured over the surveillance transcript, he noticed a conversation between what appeared to be two FBI agents accidentally added into the hotel room dialogue, where one agent told the other that they should have had “The Saint make up a list of questions to give to Kenny to ask.” DeLuca took this to mean both Guarino and Anthony St. Laurent were secretly working with the FBI and began circulating the belief inside and outside prison walls.

St. Laurent was a hardened career criminal and acted as the Patriarca’s primary narcotics lieutenant in Rhode Island. Years earlier, he and DeLuca had been indicted for running a sports gambling operation out of a Providence strip club. The fact that Bobby the Cigar was besmirching his reputation incensed St. Laurent and in turn, he started spreading rumors that DeLuca was in fact the snitch, not him.

As soon as DeLuca got released from prison in the mid-2000s, St. Laurent began plotting to murder his former bookmaking partner. Throughout 2006, the Saint tried hiring at least two people to kill Bobby the Cigar, explaining to his prospective hit men that the contract was blessed by Patriarca syndicate administrators and even driving one of them by the restaurant DeLuca was working at as part of his parole restrictions. After getting locked up for extortion the following year, a wheelchair-bound St. Laurent continued to plan DeLuca’s demise trying to hire another hit man from behind bars. The 2007 hire happened to be a undercover cop, who taped St. Laurent telling him to go up to Bobby the Cigar with a gun, tell him “This is from the Saint,” and blow his head off.

DeLuca was busted for extorting strip clubs in 2011 and began cooperating. Up until DiSarro’s remains were found two years ago, he had been living under an assumed identity in Florida.

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