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Prosecutors object to field trip in gangland slaying trial

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Federal prosecutors are opposing a request by a former mob boss to allow a jury to take a field trip of two crime scenes, including a Providence mill building where a body was exhumed in 2016.

Last month, Steven Boozang – the attorney for Francis “Cadillac Frank” Salemme – asked a federal judge in Boston to green light an on-location jury view of 715 Branch Ave. in Providence, where the remains of Steven DiSarro were unearthed on March 31, 2016. He also wanted them to walk through Salemme’s former Sharon, Massachusetts home where investigators say DiSarro was murdered in 1993.

In objecting to Boozang’s request, Assistant U.S. Attorney William Ferland wrote the field trip “will result in unnecessary expenses, waste valuable judicial resources, and add little to the jury’s understanding of the evidence.”

“A view of both scenes would entail bus rides to both Sharon and Providence,” Ferland wrote. “The trip to and from Providence alone would consume at least two hours of the jury’s time. Factoring in the actual views of the two locations, the entire process will consume nearly a day of court time.”

Prosecutors also argued another family now lives in the Sharon home, and it would be an unwarranted invasion of privacy to parade 16 jurors and court staff through the property.

As Target 12 first reported, DiSarro’s remains were discovered when the mill building’s former owner, William Ricci, led federal investigators there after he was charged in an unrelated case. Ricci is a longtime associate of Rhode Island mobster Robert “Bobby” DeLuca, who prosecutors say coordinated the dumping of the body at the request of Salemme.

The 84-year-old former mob boss and codefendant Paul Weadick were charged with “murder of a witness” last year. The pair, along with Salemme’s son Frank Jr. – who died of natural causes in 1995 – are accused of strangling DiSarro, a Boston nightclud manager, because they feared he was going to cooperate with the FBI.

Boston mobster Stephen “The Rifleman” Flemmi claimed he walked into the kitchen of Salemme’s home as the murder was happening. Prosecutors said they plan to call him to the stand as a witness.

In the Monday’s court filing, Ferland said investigators took 209 digital photographs of the house and more than 400 pictures – including aerial shots – of the burial site. 

“The FBI also employed the spherical photography feature to record the discovery process,” Ferland wrote. “Using this technology, they are able to combine the photographs with the diagrams such that the viewer, here the jury, is able to get an accurate picture of the scene, the spatial relationship to key areas and the nature of the topography.”

Prosecutors said they believe Boozang will attempt to confuse the jury by bringing them to the Sharon home, then “introduce evidence from an informant” who will say DiSarro was murdered in the basement, not the kitchen.

“[The] government does not credit the information and knows of no basis for its admissibility,” Ferland wrote.

As Target 12 previously reported, DeLuca is expected to testify that his brother Joseph took DiSarro’s body from Salemme in North Providence and delivered it to the Providence mill building. Prosecutors said DeLuca will also tell the jury his brother was inducted into the mob following the DiSarro killing.

Robert DeLuca was a close associate of Salemme and was elevated to capo – or mob captain – when Salemme took over as boss from Raymond “Junior” Patriarca. DeLuca already pleaded guilty to lying to federal investigators about what he knew of the DiSarro murder and is scheduled to be sentenced in June. His brother was granted immunity from prosecution.

Both Salemme and Weadick have pleaded not guilty. Opening arguments in the trial are set to begin early next month.

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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