Metro

R.I. mobster to testify against Frank Salemme in club owner’s slaying

“Cadillac” Frank Salemme in 1995.
Associated Press/FBI
“Cadillac” Frank Salemme in 1995.

Former Rhode Island mob capo Robert P. DeLuca is expected to testify against another aging gangster, the onetime New England Mafia boss “Cadillac” Frank Salemme, when Salemme stands trial next year on charges of killing a Southie nightclub owner in 1993, court records show.

In a filing Tuesday in federal court in Boston, prosecutors asked that the 72-year-old DeLuca’s sentencing for obstructing the investigation into the slaying be delayed until the conclusion of Salemme’s trial.

“It is anticipated that [DeLuca] will testify in the case United States v. Francis Salemme, et al. . . . a case involving the murder of a federal witness,” prosecutors wrote.

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DeLuca is poised to testify for the government in the case against Salemme, 84, and Paul Weadick, a 62-year-old plumber from Burlington.

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The two were indicted last year on charges that they killed Steven DiSarro, 43, an owner of the now-defunct Channel nightspot, to prevent him from being a witness in a federal investigation that was targeting Salemme and his son, Frank.

The indictment alleges that Salemme and his son, who died in 1995, had a hidden interest in The Channel, which was acquired by DiSarro in the early 1990s.

DeLuca pleaded guilty earlier this month to charges of obstruction of justice and making false statements to investigators looking into DiSarro’s slaying. During a 2011 interview with authorities, DeLuca denied any knowledge of the killing.

However, he changed his tune in June of 2016, two months after DiSarro’s remains were dug up from a Providence lot owned by one of DeLuca’s friends, and after federal prosecutors brought the obstruction charges against DeLuca.

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That’s when DeLuca said he and his brother, Joseph DeLuca, helped Salemme dispose of DiSarro’s body after Salemme’s son and Weadick strangled him. Joseph DeLuca has been granted immunity from prosecution for his role in disposing of DiSarro’s body, according to court filings.

Salemme and Weadick have pleaded not guilty to the murder charges.

Robert DeLuca, meanwhile, was implicated in another slaying, having pleaded no contest in January in Rhode Island state court to conspiring to murder Kevin Hanrahan, a mob enforcer who was shot to death on Federal Hill in Providence in 1992.

He’s awaiting sentencing in that matter and faces up to 10 years behind bars for his role in the murder.

DeLuca gained notoriety after he was captured on an FBI tape of a 1989 Mafia induction ceremony at a home in Medford. He was among four members who pricked their trigger fingers, burned holy cards, and took a blood oath of loyalty to the Mafia.

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Salemme, a contemporary of James “Whitey” Bulger’s, left his life as a Mafia don decades ago. He testified against convicted former FBI agent John J. Connolly Jr. in 2002 and was in the federal witness protection program, living in Atlanta under the name Richard Parker, when he was arrested last year.

Material from the Providence Journal was used in this report. Shelley Murphy of the Globe Staff contributed. Travis Andersen can be reached at travis.andersen@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @TAGlobe.