Some two and a half decades ago, Rhode Island real estate mogul, mob associate and multi-millionaire Frank Zammiello provided financing for former New England mafia don Francis (Cadillac Frank) Salemme in his and his late son’s purchase of the wildly popular Channel nightclub in South Boston, per sources. With a little muscle displayed by Salemme’s wildcard of a son, they snagged the famous rock-and-roll music venue for cents on the dollar, eventually deciding to turn it into a strip club.

For the past month, the 84-year old, still-colorful Cadillac Frank, boss of the New England mafia in the first half of the 1990s, has been on trial for the first-degree murder of his partner in the club, Stevie DiSarro. The Salemmes and DiSarro used DiSarro’s step brother Roland Wheeler as their front on paper.

According to federal prosecutors, DiSarro was slain due to Salemme and his eager-to-please offspring “Frankie Boy” believing DiSarro was skimming profits from the club without permission and cooperating with the IRS, strangled by the younger Salemme on the morning of May 10, 1993 while his pops watched on with pride in the kitchen of their family home in posh Sharon, Massachusetts. Buried in Providence, DiSarro’s bones weren’t unearthed until 2016, the same year Cadillac Frank was yanked out of the Witness Protection Program and charged in his homicide. Salemme joined Team America in 1999 and was living under an assumed identity in Atlanta when authorities were tipped to DiSarro’s final resting place.

Zammiello, 67, rose from meager beginnings as an electrician in the Olneyville section of Providence to being the most prominent real estate developer in the state of Rhode Island. He’s been known to rub elbows with Patriarca crime family members dating back over 30 years. In the 1980s, he developed a series of properties with then-boss Raymond Patriarca, Jr., who took the reins from his father, syndicate namesake Raymond Patriarca upon the elder Patriarca’s death of a heart attack in the summer of 1984. In 1986, Zammiello helped Patriarca, Jr. secure bond in a federal criminal case and then did the same less than five years later.

It was through Patriarca, Jr. that Zammiello was introduced to Cadillac Frank Salemme, fresh off a 15-year state prison stint for blowing up the car of a mob attorney in Massachusetts on Raymond Patriarca’s orders. Salemme was “made” into the Patriarca clan by Patriarca, Jr. in around 1988, made a “kingsman’s capo” and went to work with Patriarca, Jr. and Zammiello building houses. By 1991, Patriacra Jr. was behind bars and Salemme was on top of New England mafia in his place, surviving a shooting war with rivals in opposition to his rapid ascent to the throne.

Founded in 1980 by the Greek Bouras brothers (Harry & Pete), The Channel was the premier small-scale rock-and-roll venue in the Boston area. The club fell on hard times though when the nation’s economy tanked at the end of the decade. Enter the Salemmes and Stevie DiSarro.

Frankie Boy Salemme, Jr. was pals with Providence-native DiSarro, owner of another night spot in town called Club Soda and other clubs in Florida, and convinced his dad Cadillac Frank to put together a funding package in order to attempt a purchase. Cadillac Frank, according to sources familiar with the Channel’s business dealings, sought out Zammiello and others for capital. DiSarro and Zammiello knew each other from DiSarro’s building ventures, where he specialized in converting apartments to condominiums and were close friends. Both Salemmes were caught bragging of their silent ownership in the club on FBI wires.

Zammiello has claimed publically although he initially showed interest in putting up the cash for the club, he never followed through. Two different sources tell Gangster Report he gave Salemme $100,000 towards buying the club, some of which he used for that purpose and the rest of which he pocketed. Witnesses at Salemme’s trial say Salemme was shaking down DiSarro for $5,000 a month in their business arrangement. Testimony at trial points to an individual named Hank Lewis as putting up some of the financing for the club, too.

The Bouras brothers and their partner Jack Burke filed for bankruptcy in 1989 and agreed in principle in 1990 to sell the Salemmes and DiSarro the club once they got the financing for it. As a gesture of good faith, they allowed DiSarro to take over management of the premises on a day-to-day basis. On New Year’s Eve 1991, The Channel held its final concert under the Bouras’ stewardship.

The club went up for auction in 1992, however, the Salemme-DiSarro group lost the bidding to another group (“Main Act”), which offered $310,000 for the place, well above the number the mob contingent came in at. Undeterred, Frankie Boy Salemme, Jr. and DiSarro took the main investor in Main Act out for dinner to discuss the situation and after Salemme, Jr. broke a plate over his head, the investor agreed to pull out of the sale. Weeks later, the club went back up for auction and the Salemmes and DiSarro won with the lone bid of $58,000, quite the discount from market value and considerably lower than their original offer.

Pete Bouras testified that he was pushed out of the club’s ownership and walked away with nothing. He and Burke both testified to getting into physical altercations with Salemme, Jr. at the club around the time of the sale. The reopening as a rock club kicked off in the summer of 1992 with a performance by red-hot grunge music group Alice in Chains.

Changing its name to Soiree, the club rebranded in early 1993 as a nude-dancing establishment, but its ramshackle accommodations made it difficult to attract dancers and clientele. At the time of DiSarro’s disappearance, there had been a decision made to change back to the rock-club format. The club shut down for good in the months after DiSarro was killed. Salemme, Jr. died of AIDS-related cancer in June 1995 at 38.

Cadillac Frank didn’t make it to his son’s funeral because he was on the run from the law, finally nabbed in August 1995 hiding in West Palm Beach, Florida and jailed for racketeering. Zammiello is allegedly tight with Salemme’s direct successor, Luigi (Baby Shacks) Manocchio. The pair reportedly vacation together and Zammiello provides the stately now-retired don use of his private jet, the same jet he was contracted by the U.S. government to fly members of the Saudi royal family out of the country and to Paris in the days following the 2001 terrorist attacks.

Manocchio did four years in prison for extortion earlier this decade and today the 90-year old Mafioso emeritus spends most of his time in the Florida sun. It’s said he voluntarily stepped down from his position as boss of the Patriarca crime family in 2009, two years prior to his extortion arrest for shaking down Providence area strip clubs.

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