November 1, 2019 – In 2009, Providence mob captain Robert (Bobby the Cigar) DeLuca reached out to cooperate with the Rhode Island State Police and FBI as a way to eliminate his enemies and clear a path for himself to become boss of the Patriarca crime family, according to the brilliantly-crafted Channel 12 WPRI television special, The Mafia Tapes, hosted by local award-winning investigative reporter Tim White, that aired Tuesday. Instead, the 72-year old DeLuca went into the Witness Protection Program.

The man once known in East Coast underworld circles as Bobby the Cigar for his signature stogie, was inducted into New England mafia at the infamous October 29, 1989 ceremony recorded by the FBI 30 years ago this week. The Mafia Tapes served as a retrospective on the historic FBI coup. The New England mafia broke out into a war in June 1989, the battle lines split mainly between Boston and Providence – the “making” ritual was held as a conciliatory gesture to the Patriarca clan’s Boston faction in order to tamp down the violence.

Word came in from the mob’s national Commission in New York that four new members would be brought into the crime family from the Boston camp and one from the Providence regime. The Providence wiseguy selected to get his button that day was Bobby the Cigar DeLuca.

Fast forward two decades later and DeLuca, fed up with fellow mob figures he considered rats and undeserving of his loyalty, decided to become a rat himself, contacting RISP organized crime squad commander Steven O’Donnell and wiring up for the next two years. He recorded conversations with New England mob powers Luigi (Baby Shacks) Manocchio, Edward (Little Eddie) Lato and Anthony (Little Cheese) DiNunzio, among others.

When the racketeering indictment DeLuca’s cooperation helped the feds build finally dropped in 2011, Bobby the Cigar didn’t move into the boss’ sear as he had intended, but moved to Florida with his wife and young kids and assumed a new identity. Then a former drug-dealing mob associate of his back in Providence got pinched in 2016 and led authorities to the remains of long-missing Boston nightclub owner Stevie DiSarro on his property, telling the FBI that DeLuca had buried DiSarro’s body there in the spring of 1993.

DeLuca was arrested again in July 2016 and implicated his former boss and best friend Francis (Cadillac Frank) Salemme for ordering DiSarro’s murder and tasking him with disposal duties. DiSarro was strangled to death on May 10, 1993 inside Salemme’s suburban Boston residence because Salemme suspected DiSarro, his partner in a failing strip club, was stealing and snitching on him to the government.

Salemme was boss of the Patriarca crime family for the first half of the 1990s, surviving an assassination attempt in the unrest of ‘89. He too would go on to enter the Witness Protection Program, however never pointed the finger at his right-hand man DeLuca for involvement in any murder conspiracies.

Following his 2016 arrest, DeLuca admitted to his participation in a pair of murder plots, including the DiSarro hit and the 1992 gangland slaying of rogue Providence mob enforcer Kevin Hanrahan in which DeLuca claims Salemme green-lit after getting wind of Hanrahan’s plans to murder Salemme and his underboss Baby Shacks Manocchio. DeLuca did all of Cadillac Frank’s bidding in Rhode Island during the topsy-turvy Salemme era of the New England mafia, deemed a “Kingsman capo” and allowed to report directly to Cadillac Frank in Boston. Manocchio, 92, eventually succeeded Salemme as boss, retiring in 2009 — today, he lives quietly between Providence and Florida.

Cadillac Frank was charged with Stevie DiSarro’s murder and went on trial in May 2018. With DeLuca as the government’s star witness, Salemme, 86, was found guilty and sentenced to life in prison. Salemme had been living in Atlanta under an alias prior to DiSarro’s bones being dug up.

A federal grand jury has been convened since April 2017 probing DeLuca’s accusations in the Kevin Hanrahan hit. According to sources familiar with the inquiry and Bobby the Cigar’s 2016 debriefing, DeLuca names 71-year old Providence capo Little Eddie Lato as one of the triggermen in Hanrahan’s homicide. Hanrahan was gunned down on the night of September 18, 1992 leaving a dinner with DeLuca crew members in the city’s Federal Hill neighborhood.

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