BOSTON (WPRI) – Longtime Rhode Island mafia captain Robert “Bobby” DeLuca was sentenced to five and a half years in prison on Tuesday for lying to investigators about what he knew of a 1993 gangland slaying.
DeLuca, 73, was also sentenced to three years of supervised release. He will be given two years of credit for time served after he was arrested in 2016.
DeLuca was a key witness in the murder trial against former mob boss Francis “Cadillac Frank” Salemme and mob associate Paul Weadick. The pair was found guilty in June in the 1993 murder of Boston nightclub owner and Providence native Steven DiSarro.
According to prosecutors, DeLuca told them he didn’t know what happened to DiSarro when he was interviewed by FBI agents in 2011 as he began cooperating in a separate organized crime probe.
DiSarro’s body was exhumed from behind a mill building on Branch Avenue in Providence in March 2016, and DeLuca was indicted for lying about what he knew.
In the end, the notorious mobster decided to cooperate again with the government and – along with his brother Joseph, also a made member of La Cosa Nostra – sat for days in a federal courtroom in Boston and told jurors what he knew of the murder.
DeLuca testified he helped coordinate the disposal of DiSarro’s body after Salemme, his late son Frank Jr., and Weadick murdered him at Salemme’s Sharon, Massachusetts home. Investigators said Salemme wanted DiSarro killed because he was concerned the nightclub owner was going to cooperate with authorities in an ongoing investigation.
Last week, DeLuca wrote a letter to U.S. District Court Judge Denise Casper asking to be returned to his family as soon as possible. In the letter, DeLuca said he has denounced the mob and found God.
Prosecutors had said a defendant with DeLuca’s criminal record would receive 12 years in prison, but recommended five and a half for his cooperating in the case. DeLuca’s attorney asked the judge for 48 months during Tuesday’s sentencing.
Prosecutors told the judge that DeLuca’s conduct was egregious and it cannot be minimized. However, they said with out his help, Salemme and Weadick may not have been convicted. DeLuca’s attorney, Carlos Dominguez, told the judge his client is a changed man and reminded her of the 12 letters supporting his character.
DiSarro’s son Michael testified emotionally before the judge, arguing that the prosecution’s request for five and a half years was too short. Michael DiSarro asked the judge to sentence DeLuca to the maximum time allowed.
Michael wiped tears from his eyes as he listed the ways his family was turned upside down by his father’s disappearance. He said his family was mocked in school as “the mob boys.”
“He wasn’t in the mob,” DiSarro testified. “He wasn’t a made man. He was involved with the wrong people in business.”
As Michael spoke, the judge leaned in and DeLuca looked down at the ground. DiSarro said his family’s story would be different if DeLuca had come forward earlier.
Michael blamed DiSarro for his older brother’s premature death, saying, “His choice cost my brother his life.”
He then read aloud a note his father left for his older brother the night before Steven DiSarro was killed.
“Be strong for our family,” Michael said, reading from the letter. “Take care of your mother, sisters, and brothers. Love, Daddy.”
DeLuca then spoke briefly from a prepared statement.
“I want to apologize to the DiSarro family for not coming forward sooner,” DeLuca told the judge. “I do feel good about myself for helping the prosecutors.”
After a brief recess, Judge Casper revealed her sentence.
“Too little, too late for the victim’s family in this case,” she said.
In addition to Tuesday’s sentencing, DeLuca has also pleaded guilty to conspiracy charges in Rhode Island for the 1992 mob hit of Kevin Hanrahan. Prosecutors have recommended a 10-year sentence in that case, but any sentence could run concurrent with the federal punishment.
In court, Assistant U.S. Attorney Fred Wyshak told the judge DeLuca has already testified before a grand jury in Rhode Island in a case that only he has been indicted in so far.
As Target 12 previously reported, there is an active investigation into the Hanrahan murder, and imprisoned capo Edward Lato is a suspect. He is scheduled to be released next year.
Michael DiSarro declined to speak outside of court.
“This isn’t a Hollywood movie,” he told the judge. “There’s no credits that roll after this.”