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Jury selection to begin in high-profile mob murder trial


PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – Jury selection in a highly anticipated mob murder trial is set to begin Tuesday in Boston, and the case could have ripple effects in Rhode Island’s underworld.

Lawyers from both sides will begin the process of weeding out potential jurors in the trial against former New England mob boss Francis “Cadillac Frank” Salemme.

Salemme, 84, and co-defendant Paul Weadick are charged with “murder of a witness,” for the 1993 gangland slaying of Boston nightclub owner Steven DiSarro.

The remains of DiSarro were exhumed from behind a mill building on Branch Avenue in Providence in March 2016.

In court filings, prosecutors have said Salemme wanted DiSarro killed because he feared the nightclub owner was going to cooperate with the FBI. Salemme’s late son, Frank Jr., strangled DiSarro as Weadick held his legs, according to prosecutors.

One of the key witnesses expected to testify against Salemme is longtime Rhode Island mob capo Robert “Bobby” DeLuca, who has told investigators he coordinated the disposal of DiSarro’s body at the direction of his former underworld boss.

As Target 12 previously reported, court paperwork reveal DeLuca is expected to tell jurors he received a call from Salemme telling him to be prepared to receive “a package.” 

“DeLuca understood a package to mean a body,” prosecutors wrote.

DeLuca’s brother Joseph met Salemme in North Providence to retrieve DiSarro’s body then drove to the mill building where he and two others buried DiSarro, investigators have said. 

The mill building was owned by DeLuca associate William Ricci, who confessed to prosecutors there was a body buried on his property after he was caught up in a separate marijuana case in 2015, according to court documents.

DeLuca’s testimony will be watched closely by prosecutors in Rhode Island, as they are looking to close out a mob cold case of their own: the 1992 murder of Kevin Hanrahan.

Hanrahan, a feared mob enforcer, was gunned down as he was leaving a Federal Hill nightclub on Sept. 18, 1992. DeLuca has already pleaded guilty to conspiracy in that case and is set to be sentenced when the Boston trial is over.

The actual trigger man in the Hanrahan murder has never been charged, but as Target 12 previously reported, longtime mob capo Edward “Eddie” Lato is also a suspect in the crime. He is currently in federal prison from another case and is scheduled to be released in 2019.

DeLuca’s performance on the stand in Boston could be high stakes in the Hanrahan case: Target 12 reported earlier this month that DeLuca may implicate several others in the Hanrahan hit.

Salemme and Weadick have both pleaded not guilty to the charges. The trial is set to begin on May 9.

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

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.


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