With a murder probe hanging over his head, New England mafia captain Edward (Little Eddie) Lato was released from prison this week and into a halfway house in his home state of Rhode Island. Award-winning investigative television reporter Tim White at WPRI broke the news of Lato’s move from a federal penitentiary in New Jersey to the re-entry facility in Pawtucket. Having served eight years behind bars, he will work for the same construction company he was employed by before he was incarcerated.

Lato, 71, served nine years on extortion and bookmaking charges. The short, stocky career criminal (32 arrests, 18 convictions dating back a half-century) has been a capo in the Patriarca crime family’s Providence wing for the past 20 years and is currently under the microscope for his alleged role in the murder of a rogue syndicate enforcer in 1992.

Lato was busted by the feds in 2011 for shaking down Rhode Island strip clubs. While in prison, he was slapped with a state case for running an illegal gambling operation.

In a 2016 debriefing with the FBI, former Providence mob skipper Robert (Bobby the Cigar) DeLuca implicated Lato as a key participant in the gangland slaying of “off the reservation” hit man Kevin Hanrahan on the night of September 18, 1992 in the city’s Federal Hill neighborhood. Lato was one of two triggermen in the murder, according to DeLuca, who was yanked out of the Witness Protection Program three years ago and has pleaded guilty to his role in two homicide conspiracies, the Hanrahan hit and the May 1993 murder of Boston nightclub owner Stevie DiSarro.

DeLuca wore a wire on Lato and others in the late 2000s and helped the feds build the strip club extortion case, which ensnared Lato and retired Patriarca don Luigi (Baby Shacks) Manocchio. He claims Manocchio’s predecessor as boss, Francis (Cadillac Frank) Salemme, tapped him to help Manocchio in coordinating details for the Hanrahan execution in 1992 and made him responsible for the burial of DiSarro’s body eight months later in 1993.

A grand jury has been impaneled hearing testimony in the Hanrahan case going on two years. DeLuca named Lato and Manocchio’s future consigliere, Rocco (Shaky) Argenti as the pair of masked assailants who gunned down Hanrahan outside The Arch steakhouse after Hanrahan had dined with DeLuca’s best friend Ronnie Coppola. Lato was seen huddling with DeLuca and Coppola at a nearby bar and restaurant in the minutes following Hanrahan getting banged out on Atwells Avenue in the heart of Federal Hill. Argenti died of cancer in 2002, serving as Baby Shacks Manocchio’s consigliere from 1998 until he passed. Coppola was killed in a fight at a card game in 1994.

Hanrahan was trying to extort bookmakers under Salemme’s protection and planning on killing Salemme and Manocchio, who at that point in time was Salemme’s underboss, per DeLuca’s grand jury testimony. DiSarro and Salemme were partners in a nightclub-turned-strip club in South Boston and Salemme worried DiSarro was going to give him up to the feds in exchange for a free pass on a real estate fraud indictment.

DeLuca was the star witness at Salemme’s trial for the DiSarro hit in the summer of 2018 where Cadillac Frank was found guilty of ordering his now-deceased son to strangle DiSarro to death in the family’s suburban Boston home. DiSarro’s remains were unearthed in the spring of 2016 outside a converted Providence textile mill owned by one of DeLuca’s former crew members. Like DeLuca, Salemme had been in witness protection when DiSarro’s body popped up and he was arrested three years ago.

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