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Former mob capo DeLuca sentenced in Federal Hill murder, escapes prison time

Target 12

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – A longtime Rhode Island Mafia captain, who denounced the mob in a letter to a federal judge in Boston two years ago, was quietly sentenced last week for his role in an infamous Federal Hill gangland slaying.

But the mobster, Robert DeLuca, was spared any more prison time because he cooperated with the government in a high-profile organized crime trial that led to the conviction of a former mob boss.

DeLuca, 75, was sentenced to 10 years by Superior Court Judge Brian Stern after pleading guilty to murder conspiracy in the 1993 shooting death of mob enforcer Kevin Hanrahan. Stern suspended 69 months of the sentence, and credited DeLuca for time served dating back to his June 2016 arrest.

Kristy dosReis, a spokesperson for R.I. Attorney General Peter Neronha, said in an email that state and federal prosecutors supported the sentence because of “DeLuca’s cooperation” as well as “his current health, and pending motion for compassionate release before the federal court.”

DeLuca is currently serving time at an undisclosed federal prison for his role in the killing of a Boston nightclub manager, Steven DiSarro, in 1993. DeLuca – and his brother Joseph – were star witnesses for federal prosecutors in that case against former mob boss Francis “Cadillac Frank” Salemme and an associate.

Salemme, now 87, was convicted and sentenced to life in prison.

In 2018, DeLuca was given a five-year sentence in that case for lying to federal prosecutors in 2011 about what he knew of DiSarro’s murder. (That sentence is set to expire in December 2021.) DiSarro’s body was exhumed from behind a Providence mill building in 2016. Both DeLuca and his brother admitted to helping Salemme dispose of the body.

The DiSarro and Hanrahan cases overlapped that year, with DeLuca agreeing to not only cooperate in the trial of Salemme, but also to divulge what he knew of the Federal Hill slaying.

On Sept. 18, 1992, Hanrahan was shot three times in the head as he left the former Arch restaurant on Federal Hill. DeLuca is the only one to be charged in that case, pleading guilty to a murder conspiracy count. The actual triggerman has never been caught.

Target 12 previously reported that investigators were looking at mob capo Edward “Eddie” Lato as a suspect in the killing. The 73-year-old was released from prison last year after being convicted in a separate 2011 organized crime case, and is back living in Rhode Island. His lawyer has previously told Target 12 Lato has not been contacted by law enforcement about the Hanrahan murder.

Court documents filed in the DiSarro case at federal court in Boston reveal DeLuca has cited the pandemic in his request for compassionate release. His lawyer, Carlos Dominguez, has asked the court to keep details of the early release request under seal “due to the sensitive nature of the information contained in the motion.” U.S. District Court Judge Denies Casper granted the request.

A call and email to Dominguez was not returned.

When DeLuca is released from prison he will be on federal and state probation for several years.

DeLuca was sworn into the New England crime family in an infamous mob induction ceremony in Medford, Mass. in 1989 that was secretly being recorded by the FBI.

In 2018, DeLuca sent a letter to Judge Casper saying he denounced the mob and found God right before he was sentenced in the DiSarro case.

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

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