PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – A former New England mob captain was granted early release from federal prison after a federal judge in Boston ruled his health was at heightened risk during the pandemic and he was not a threat the community.

It’s unclear when Robert DeLuca, 75, will be set free from an undisclosed Federal Bureau of Prisons facility, but U.S. District Judge Denise Casper issued an order Wednesday granting DeLuca’s compassionate release request because he “has a serious heart condition and chronic kidney disease, all of which make him vulnerable to serious illness if he contracts COVID-19.”

“His crimes in this case were non-violent (obstruction of justice and false statements) even as they were made in the context of a murder investigation,” Casper wrote. “Given this backdrop, and his current medical situation, the court does not conclude that Deluca currently poses a threat to the community.”

In an email, DeLuca’s attorney Carlos Dominguez confirmed the judge’s decision, but said he was not sure as to the timing of his client’s release from prison.

“In light of Mr. Deluca’s age, serious medical conditions that make him highly vulnerable to the [coronavirus] in the institutional setting and having completed all but three to four months of a 66-month sentence, the Judge’s decision was reasonable,” Dominguez wrote. “I have not had a chance to speak with Mr. DeLuca but I am certain he is grateful for receiving the court’s consideration.”

DeLuca’s current sentence was set to expire in December 2021, although he was eligible for release to a halfway house in June. He was given a five-year prison sentence in 2018 for lying to federal prosecutors about what he knew of the 1993 murder of Steven DiSarro.

DiSarro – a Boston nightclub manager – vanished that year. His body was later exhumed from behind a Providence mill building in 2016. DeLuca and his brother, mobster Joseph DeLuca, testified at the trial of former mob boss Francis “Cadillac Frank” Salemme that they helped dispose of the body at Salemme’s behest.

A jury was persuaded by the DeLuca brother’s testimony and other evidence and convicted Salemme, now 87, and his associate Paul Weadick of murder. They were sentenced to life behind bars. The conviction has been appealed.

Likely because of his cooperation, the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Boston did not oppose DeLuca’s request for an early release.

Separately DeLuca pleaded guilty to taking part in another murder, this one the 1992 gangland shooting of mob enforcer Kevin Hanrahan. The actual triggerman has never been brought to justice, but DeLuca admitted to taking part in the planning of the hit. Last month Superior Court Judge Brian Stern spared DeLuca prison time and sentenced him to time served. 

DeLuca will be on probation for years in both the state and federal case.

Casper’s release order requires DeLuca to follow state quarantine orders, but what state he ends up remains unclear. 

DeLuca has ties to Rhode Island, and was living in Florida when he was arrested in 2016. In a letter to the judge at his sentencing in 2018, DeLuca expressed interest in returning to Florida after claiming he made a connection with a church there. In the same letter, he told Judge Casper that he had denounced the mob that he swore an oath to in an infamous induction ceremony caught on a FBI wiretap in 1989.

Dominguez said he did not have any information on DeLuca’s relocation when he gets released.

Tim White (twhite@wpri.com) is the Target 12 managing editor and chief investigative reporter at 12 News, and the host of Newsmakers. Connect with him on Twitter and Facebook.