New England

Ex-Mafia Boss ‘Cadillac Frank' Salemme Gets Life in Prison

A former New England Mafia boss convicted of killing a nightclub owner in 1993 was sentenced to life behind bars on Thursday.

Eighty-five-year-old Francis Salemme, known as "Cadillac Frank,'' and his co-defendant, Paul Weadick, were found guilty in June of killing Steven DiSarro to keep him from talking to authorities. Salemme and Weadick have denied involvement in the killing.

Salemme was head of the New England family of La Cosa Nostra in the early 1990s.

DiSarro's body wasn't found until 2016, when authorities received a tip it was buried behind a building in Providence, Rhode Island.

U.S. Attorney Andrew Lelling told reporters in June that Salemme's conviction ends a "long and dark chapter'' in Boston history.

"The last 25 years have been heartbreaking for us," the victim's family said in a statement. "We have waited a long time for answers and explanations for something unexplainable."

Jurors found Salemme guilty in DiSarro's slaying after four days of deliberations in a case that served as a flashback to the days when La Cosa Nostra was a force to be reckoned with in New England.

Weadick was also convicted of murder of a federal witness. Both of them face up to life in prison.

Steve Boozang, Salemme's attorney, said he was surprised by the verdict.

"He was hopeful and optimistic...," he said.

Boozang also said that Salemme's one time best friend Stephen "The Rifleman" Flemmi, the government's star witness in the trial, was not truthful on the stand.

"Flemmi is an absolute liar, but they're a tough set of facts and we thought we had overcome them but we didn't," he said.

He said the men will appeal. 

Salemme had long been suspected in DiSarro's death, but wasn't charged until the nightclub owner's remains were dug up in 2016. The mill owner told the FBI about the remains after he was charged in a federal drug case.

Prosecutors said Salemme had DiSarro killed because Salemme feared the nightclub owner would cooperate with authorities investigating the mobster.

Flemmi told jurors that he happened upon the killing when he walked into the Salemme home looking for the mobster. Flemmi said he saw Salemme's son strangling DiSarro while Weadick held the nightclub owner's feet and Salemme stood by. Salemme's son died in 1995.

DiSarro's nightclub, The Channel, was under scrutiny at the time for the Salemmes' involvement in the business. Just before DiSarro's death, the FBI told him he was about to be indicted and should cooperate with the government against the Salemmes.

Lawyers for Salemme and Weadick accused Flemmi, who's serving a life sentence for killing 10 people, of lying to take down Salemme for a chance to get out of prison before he dies. Flemmi, who was notorious gangster James "Whitey" Bulger's partner, was also a key witness in Bulger's 2013 trial.

Salemme, who has admitted to a slew of other killings, once cooperated with the government after learning that Bulger and Flemmi had been informing the FBI behind his back. In exchange, the government cut his sentence for a 1999 racketeering conviction and he entered the witness protection program.

He was kicked out of witness protection in 2004 when he was charged with lying to investigators for suggesting another mobster killed DiSarro, but was later allowed back under government protection.

Salemme was living in Atlanta under the name Richard Parker when DiSarro's remains were found. He was arrested later that year in a Connecticut hotel with more than $28,000 in cash scattered in bags throughout the room.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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