Oh, the irony. Per sources with intimate knowledge of the situation, former New England mob boss Francis (Cadillac Frank) Salemme didn’t admit to his role in the Stevie DiSarro murder during his multiple FBI debriefings because he was trying to protect his one-time gangland best friend Robert (Bobby the Cigar) DeLuca. In return, DeLuca did the same thing. Until he didn’t.
The 84-year old Salemme is currently on trial in federal court in Boston for DiSarro’s 1993 homicide – he’s pled not guilty. Bobby DeLuca will be the star witness at the trial and has implicated Salemme in the crime, admitting Cadillac Frank put him in charge of burying DiSarro’s body.
“Frank wanted to look out for Bobby, he liked Bobby a lot,” one source said. “Bobby only had a few years left on his bid when Frank flipped and would be going back to his family, going back to the streets before long. Frank didn’t want to trip him up with a murder beef or a bunch of murder beefs. Plus, Frank knew admitting to his and Bobby’s participation in that murder opened up a whole other can of worms. They had a lot of blood on their hands in the 1990s. Admitting to one, would inevitably lead to admitting to the rest.”
One of those additional murders would be the 1992 hit on rogue mob enforcer Kevin Hanrahan, six months prior to the DiSarro hit. DeLuca has fingered Salemme in the Hanrahan slaying, too, and possibly more.
DiSarro and Salemme co-owned The Channel nightclub in South Boston, a popular rock-and-roll, soul and new wave music venue. In March 1993, the FBI approached DiSarro about cooperating, explaining to him he was about to be indicted for bank and real estate fraud. Prosecutors believe on the morning of May 10 of that year, Salemme called DiSarro over to his home in Sharon, Massachusetts and had his son, the late Francis (Frankie Boy) Salemme, Jr., strangle him to death. The next day, DeLuca had his older brother Joey, meet Salemme in Rhode Island, where the elder DeLuca took possession of DiSarro’s body and subsequently buried it at an associate’s mill in Providence. That associate traded the knowledge of the burial site for a get-out-of-jail free card in 2016 after getting busted in a drug case.
Financed by Salemme, DiSarro purchased The Channel with the intent of letting Salemme use it as a place to launder money. DiSarro had previously owned successful nightclubs in Massachusetts, Rhode Island and South Florida.
One mob associate involved in the South Boston club was quoted as saying, “If the place takes in $100k in a month, we skim 80 Gs off the top.”
Salemme himself was caught on an FBI wire discussing his interest in The Channel.
“It’s a famous place, a real rock-and-roll joint,” he’s heard bragging on a bug. “I’m talking like heavy rock. You know its garbage music, sickening stuff, but I mean it’s a real money maker. We’ve already paid the money for it. We own 66 percent of the place…….I’m the one who gets all the cash.”
Becoming boss of the Patriarca crime family in 1990, Cadillac Frank took power amidst rising tensions in the syndicate, first quelled in the summer of 1989 following Salemme surviving an assassination attempt and then ramped back up upon his grabbing the reins less than a year later. With Salemme stationed in his hometown of Boston, DeLuca acted as his aide-de-camp in Providence. DeLuca was named a “kingsman’s captain,” a capo who reports directly to the boss.
Fresh to the throne, Salemme used his new role as boss to take aim at those he viewed as rivals, specifically those connected to the East Boston crew who had tried to have him killed. Between 1991 and his incarceration in 1995, Salemme is suspected of ordering over a half-dozen gangland slayings.
However, when he cut a deal with the government in 1999, he denied his role in all of them, including the DiSarro hit. While admitting to participating in nine murders during the 1960s, Cadillac Frank didn’t cop to a single homicide throughout his firestorm of a five-year tenure at the helm of the New England mafia.
DeLuca, 72, jumped ship from the Patriarca clan and onto Team America in the late 2000s, entering the Witness Protection Program in 2011 and relocating to Florida. Just like in Salemme’s purge sessions with the government, Bobby the Cigar left out any mention of involvement in the Stevie DiSarro murder or any others from the 1990s in his initial FBI debriefing.
He wanted to keep a trump card in his back pocket. He played it in 2016 when DiSarro’s remains were dug up.
New England mob soldier Joey DeLuca, Bobby the Cigar’s big brother, took the stand this week at Salemme’s trial and testified to being assigned by his sibling to retrieve DiSarro’s body in a rendezvous with Cadillac Frank in North Providence and then being told to deliver it to a local converted textile mill for burial. The elder DeLuca, 78, was “made” by Salemme in the following months as a reward for a job well done, and told jurors his motivation for testifying was to get his brother a more lenient sentence (Joey DeLuca wasn’t facing charges due to the statute limitations having run out). Bobby the Cigar will be sentenced after the DiSarro trial.