N.E. Mob Soldier ‘Nino’ Bufalino Once Again A Hot Topic In Patriarca Family Affairs

Imprisoned New England mafia soldier Darin (Nino) Bufalino’s ears must be buzzing. He’s having his name thrown around in both media and law enforcement circles lately.

The musclebound, square-jawed 55-year old mob enforcer is tangentially connected to a wire fraud case against New England mafia associate Charles (Good Time Charlie) Lightbody and two others beginning in federal court in Boston this week and, according to exclusive Gangster Report sources, has surfaced as a potential suspect in the conspiracy tied to the unsolved 1993 gangland slaying of “Southie” nightclub owner Stevie Disarro, a cold-case investigation which got new life last month with the possible unearthing of Disarro’s remains via an FBI dig of property in Rhode Island.

Bufalino is in the midst of serving concurrent seven-year prison terms for armed robbery and extortion. He’s a protégé of former New England Godfather-turned-witness-for-the-government Francis (Cadillac Frank) Salemme and more recently worked under East Boston mob capo Mark Rosetti, an FBI informant exposed by the Boston Globe in a 2010 expose after being caught discussing his double-agent status on a state-police bug of his cell phone and doing 12 years behind bars.

Lightbody’s troubles with the law started when he visited Bufalino in state prison three years ago and was recorded boasting of his involvement in the building, licensing and hidden ownership of a Steve Wynn resort and casino in Massachusetts. Wynn is a Las Vegas casino mogul. Lightbody and two co-defendants are facing charges they conspired to purchase the Wynn-brand vacation spot and gambling palace without disclosing Lightbody’s ownership interest in the transaction.

Sources in the Rhode Island State Police say Bufalino’s name was mentioned by informants as one of the individuals tasked with disposing of Disarro’s body at an associate of Salemme’s Rhode Island-based underboss, Robert (Bobby the Cigar) DeLuca’s construction site in Providence where a textile mill was being converted into multi-use property. That associate, Billy Ricci, copped a plea in March, admitting to his role in a marijuana-distribution network and agreeing to let the FBI and RISP search his property for Disarro’s bones.

DeLuca became an FBI informant in 2011 upon his arrest on extortion charges. The human remains discovered buried in the back of Ricci’s property in the March dig haven’t yet been identified as Disarro’s, but are expected to be soon.

Fmr. Boston mob baron Cadillac Frank Salemme (left) and his man In Providence Bobby "The Cigar" DeLuca (w/ cigar) in an FBI surveillance photo from 1989

Fmr. Boston mob baron Cadillac Frank Salemme (left) and his underboss Bobby “The Cigar” DeLuca (w/ cigar) c. 1989

Disarro, 43, was allegedly strangled to death on May 10, 1993 by Salemme’s son, Frank, Jr., while Cadillac Frank, his brother Jackie and Rosetti watched on following the FBI beginning a probe into the financial affairs of South Boston’s the Channel nightclub and topless bar, owned by Disarro, but reportedly staked by both Salemmes. Per police surveillance logs, Bufalino frequently accompanied the Salemmes to the Channel throughout 1991 and 1992 and into 1993 in the months and weeks preceding Disarro’s murder.

Infamous FBI confidential informant Stevie (The Rifleman) Flemmi told his handlers in law enforcement that he accidentally walked in on Frank Salemme, Jr. garroting Disarro to death at Frank Salemme, Sr.’s suburban Boston residence as Salemme, Sr. and two others observed and that Cadillac Frank told him that Bobby DeLuca provided him a burial spot in Providence. Flemmi was partners with then-Boston Irish mob boss James (Whitey) Bulger, also a controversial confidential informant and genuine American gangland icon. Bulger and the half-Irish Salemme grew up together.

Salemme, Jr. died of complications related to the Aids virus in 1995, the same year his father was arrested and jailed. Cadillac Frank lied to the government in his original 1999 debriefing session regarding his knowledge of the Disarro murder, eventually pleading guilty to perjury and obstruction of justice charges. He’s been out of prison since 2009 and at 83 years old is currently living in the Witness Protection Program under an assumed name.

Nino Bufalino acted as a bodyguard for Cadillac Frank in the 1990s during the tumultuous Salemme era in the New England mafia. Salemme’s five-year reign (1990-1995) at the helm of the Patriarca crime family was marked by infighting and violence. His top strong arm and assassin, Richard (Richie the Hatchet) Devlin was slain in 1994. Salemme himself survived an assassination attempt in 1989 on his way to the throne. Several of the more than a half-dozen murders attributed to the half-decade Salemme regime were of the revenge variety – him taking aim the faction of the crime family responsible for trying to kill him before he took power.

Sources in law enforcement say Cadillac Frank might face some form of indictment if the remains from last month’s excavation of Billy Ricci’s Providence property turn out to be Disarro’s. Whether Bufalino could be indicted alongside his former mob mentor isn’t known.

Bufalino beat homicide charges back in the 1980s – he was acquitted of the February 29, 1984 murder of 27-year old Boston drug dealer Vincent DeNino. Found in the trunk of his car in a Revere, Massachusetts grocery store parking lot, shot four times in the head, DeNino was alleged to have fallen out with Bufalino over a $15,000 drug debt.

Indicted for a bank robbery and being investigated for his role in the DeNino slaying, Bufalino fled the country in 1984, spending two years hiding in Ireland, making a living as a model, and a year in Spain before being apprehended in 1987. He went on to slip away in both cases, avoiding conviction. The feds finally nailed him in 1999 for a bank heist he had pulled in 1993.

Doing six years in the joint, Bufalino emerged back on the streets in 2005 and hooked up with Mark Rosetti, a one-time Salemme goon upped to captain’s status while he was away and unbeknownst to him was cooperating with the FBI. Bufalino and Rosetti were indicted together in a 2010 racketeering case, on the heels of a 2009 indictment charging Bufalino with robbing a landscaper of $1,100 at gunpoint.

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