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In surprise hearing, DeLuca admits role in murder conspiracy

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WARWICK, R.I. (WPRI) – Notorious mobster Robert “Bobby” DeLuca pleaded no contest to conspiracy to commit murder in a surprise hearing at Kent County Superior Court Wednesday afternoon.

Superior Court Judge Brian Stern accepted the 71 year-old mafioso’s plea of nolo contendre. A spokesperson with the Rhode Island Attorney General’s office said it was part of  a plea agreement.

Assistant Attorney General James Baum laid out the charges in court, saying the state could prove DeLuca conspired with others to kill Kevin Hanrahan in 1992.

Wednesday’s hearing partially laid to rest a decades-old murder mystery. Hanrahan, a feared mob enforcer, was gunned down on Federal Hill on September 18, 1992.

Baum said DeLuca planned the murder with mobster Rocco Argenti and other unnamed individuals.

Argenti died of natural causes in 2002.

Hanrahan was walking out of the former Arch Restaurant on Atwells Avenue in Providence when he was approached by two men. He was shot three times to the head and died later that night at Rhode Island Hospital.

Conspiracy to commit murder comes with a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison.

Wearing a bright orange jumpsuit with the initials for the Plymouth County Correctional Facility – where he is being housed – DeLuca sat flanked by defense attorney John Canham. He will be sentenced at a later date.

Members of the FBI, Rhode Island State Police and Providence police were in attendance at Kent County Court.

DeLuca is already facing prison time after pleading guilty to charges that he lied to federal agents about what he knew of the 1993 murder of Steven DiSarro, who’s body was exhumed form behind a Branch Ave. mill building in March. He will be sentenced in that case on February 1.

The Hanrahan case – dormant for decades – surfaced again after DiSarro’s body was discovered. Once in custody after being arrested in Florida, where he had been laying low after cooperating with the FBI in a 2011 case, DeLuca began talking to a Massachusetts State Police detective.

DeLuca told the investigator Salemme called him after DiSarro was killed and he and his brother Joseph DeLuca met the then-mob boss in North Providence to retrieve the body.

As part of the plea deal in Boston DeLuca pledged to also admit his role in the Hanrahan murder. No one has been charged in the murder of Hanrahan.

Tim White ( twhite@wpri.com ) is the Target 12 investigative reporter and host of Newsmakers for WPRI 12 and Fox Providence. Follow him on Twitter and on Facebook

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