Former Mafia capo Robert P. DeLuca was sentenced Tuesday to 5 1/2 years in federal prison for lying to investigators about the 1993 murder of a South Boston club owner.
But before US District Court Judge Denise Casper sentenced DeLuca, 73, she heard an impassioned plea from the son of Steven DiSarro, who left behind a wife and five children when he was strangled.
Fighting back tears, Michael DiSarro asked Casper to impose a maximum term of about 12 ½ years. He noted that his older brother, Steven DiSarro Jr., struggled for years with substance abuse and died on the same day their father’s remains were unearthed behind a Providence building in March 2016.
Steven Jr.’s death could have been prevented if DeLuca had come clean to investigators in 2011, Michael DiSarro said in a Boston courtroom. At that time, DeLuca denied any knowledge of the murder.
“My father was everything to my brother Steve,” Michael told Casper. “He [DeLuca] took my brother’s life that day [in 2011] when he lied.”
Prosecutors recommended the 66-month sentence as part of a plea deal. DeLuca gave key testimony in the June trial of Francis “Cadillac Frank” Salemme, an 85-year-old former New England mob boss, and Paul Weadick, 63, of Burlington.
Salemme and Weadick were both convicted of killing Steven DiSarro in 1993 to keep him from cooperating with the FBI.
“I do feel good about myself, that I did help prosecutors” win those convictions, DeLuca said Tuesday. “I know I done wrong by lying” in 2011, he said.
DeLuca apologized to DiSarro’s family and said he “changed my life around” since 2011, rejecting crime and becoming a regular churchgoer. DeLuca pleaded guilty in 2016 to charges of obstruction of justice and making false statements about DiSarro’s slaying.
DeLuca was indicted in 2016 after authorities concluded he lied to investigators in 2011. After his arrest, DeLuca decided to cooperate with authorities, admitting he played a role in disposing of DiSarro’s body and had been involved in the 1992 slaying of mob enforcer Kevin Hanrahan in Providence.
During Salemme’s murder trial, DeLuca testified Salemme complained in May 1993 that DiSarro was stealing money from the Channel nightclub, in which Salemme and his son, Frank, had a stake.
The elder Salemme also expressed concern that DiSarro was cooperating with the FBI, DeLuca said.
DeLuca testified that Salemme delivered DiSarro’s body to Providence, and DeLuca arranged for his brother and several other men to bury it behind a mill.
In a recent letter to Casper, DeLuca wrote that he initially lied “because I couldn’t bring myself to put my brother in trouble,” he said. His brother, Joseph, was also a key witness at Salemme’s trial.
DeLuca wrote that he misled authorities because he didn’t want to leave his wife and two young children alone, nor did he want to leave his two elder children, who have cerebral palsy.
On Tuesday, Michael DiSarro said that while he feels badly for DeLuca’s family, he also knows how it feels to grow up without a father.
After his father’s disappearance, neighbors whispered about him and his siblings being “the mob boys,” and other children weren’t allowed to play at their house, he said.
“My dad was not in the mob; he wasn’t a made man,” Michael DiSarro said. “He was involved with the wrong people in business.”
After Steven DiSarro Sr. was killed, the family’s life “spiraled out of control,” Michael DiSarro said. He said DeLuca only began cooperating with authorities “when his back was against the wall.”
Assistant US Attorney William J. Ferland told Casper that while DeLuca’s cooperation was late in coming, prosecutors may not have secured the convictions of Salemme and Weadick without his testimony.
Ferland said DeLuca has testified before a Rhode Island grand jury investigating Hanrahan’s murder and faces up to 10 years in prison for his role in that slaying. That sentence will run concurrent with his prison term in the DiSarro case, records show.
“It’s egregious conduct and it cannot be minimized,” Ferland said of DeLuca’s lies in 2011 to authorities, adding that DeLuca later wore a wire — at great personal risk — to help prosecutors in other cases.
Michael DiSarro, however, chided DeLuca for not shedding light on his father’s death years earlier.
“Mr. DeLuca has had 25 years to tell the truth, if indeed his intentions were pure,” DiSarro said. “Our family deserves justice as well.”
Travis Andersen can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.