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Informant: Mobster wanted to blow up Federal Hill restaurant in early 1990s

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PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – An FBI informant claims slain mob enforcer Kevin Hanrahan wanted to blow up a Federal Hill restaurant that had ties to a high-ranking Rhode Island mobster, according to a court document filed Thursday ahead of a high-profile Mafia trial.

The document, which has since been sealed by the court, included an FBI report from March 2016. The report summarizes a phone conversation an FBI agent had with a government informant who claimed Hanrahan “was attempting to purchase plastic explosives from an individual in Boston, MA known as ‘Smitty.'”

The story was explosives would be used in two ways, according to the informant: in an attempt to kill then-mob boss Francis “Cadillac Frank” Salemme, and to blow up Euro Bistro, an Atwells Avenue restaurant that had ties to Luigi “Baby Shacks” Manocchio, a longtime Rhode Island mobster whose star was then on the rise. (He would later ascend to boss.)

“Supposedly, Hanrahan was planning on attaching some plastic explosives to a remote control plane where he was going to fly it into Frank Salemme’s bedroom in an attempt to kill Salemme and his wife,” the informant told the FBI. “Around the same time, Salemme purportedly observed Hanrahan outside the rear of his residence hiding behind a dumpster possibly dressed as a women.”

The source also said Hanrahan planned to put some explosives in a “briefcase” to be detonated in Euro Bistro.

“Salemme contacted Louis Manocchio to inquire if Hanrahan had been frequenting his club/restaurant,” the document states. “Manocchio indicated that Hanrahan had been coming into the club the past few dates … and Manocchio confirmed the existence of a briefcase.”

“Supposedly, Salemme felt that Hanrahan was conducting a ‘dry run’ with the briefcase before placing a bomb in the club,” the informant said.

Hanrahan was gunned down on Federal Hill in September 1992. His murder remained unsolved for decades, until Rhode Island mobster Robert “Bobby” DeLuca pleaded guilty in 2016 to conspiracy for his role in the slaying. 

The actual gunman has never been charged. Target 12 previously reported incarcerated mob capo Edward “Eddie” Lato is a suspect in the case, and prosecutors said DeLuca is expected to testify Manocchio authorized the murder of Hanrahan. Manocchio – who was released from prison in 2015 in a separate extortion case – has not been charged in the Hanrahan case.

The FBI file highlights the type of information that state and federal agents must sift through following a major crime, and determine its reliability.

The document came to light ahead of a trial against Salemme and codefendant Paul Weadick. The pair is accused of killing Boston nightclub owner Steven DiSarro in 1993, then coordinating with DeLuca to bury the body behind a Branch Avenue mill building.

DiSarro’s remains were exhumed in March 2016, launching a chain of events that reignited the Hanrahan case.

DeLuca has pledged to testify against Salemme when the Boston trial starts next week, as well as cooperate in the Hanrahan case.

Kristen Setera, a spokesperson for the FBI’s Boston office, declined to comment “due to the ongoing prosecution,” as did a spokesperson for the Massachusetts U.S. attorney’s office.

A spokesperson for Rhode Island Attorney General Peter Kilmartin, whose office is handing the Hanrahan case, said in an email, “The Hanrahan murder is an ongoing investigation and it is our policy not to comment on ongoing investigations. Nor are we going to comment on any filings or evidence presented in the ongoing federal murder trial.”

The document containing the FBI report was sealed by the courts 16 hours after it was filed. A defense attorney’s said in a motion “the government has brought to the attention of the undersigned counsel that such documentation includes matters governed by a protective order and as such should be filed under seal.”

Defense attorneys are asking a judge for prosecutors to hand over “any and all reports” that discuss where DiSarro was murdered. Investigators have said DiSarro was strangled in the kitchen of Salemme’s Sharon, Massachusetts home by Salemme’s son – who has since died of natural causes – while Weadick held his legs. Mobster Stephen “The Rifleman” Flemmi is expected to testify he walked into the kitchen as the murder was happening.

Defense counsel may be trying to cloud Flemmi’s testimony by providing statements from other informants who claim DiSarro was killed in the basement, not the kitchen.

Prosecutors allege DiSarro was killed because Salemme feared he was going to cooperate with the FBI.
Both Salemme and Weadick have pleaded not guilty. Opening statements in the trial are set for May 9th.

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

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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