PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – Former New England Mafia don Francis “Cadillac Frank” Salemme’s last hope for a new trial was dashed Monday when the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear his appeal.

Salemme, 88, is currently serving a life sentence for murder at a federal medical prison in Missouri. He was convicted in 2018 on one count of “murder of a witness” for the 1993 gangland slaying of Boston nightclub owner Steven DiSarro.

In a one-line decision, Scott Harris – the clerk for the country’s high court – wrote “the petition for a writ of certiorari is denied,” effectively ending Salemme’s legal fight to overturn his conviction.

Federal prosecutors convinced a jury of 10 women and six men that Salemme and co-defendant Paul Weadick killed DiSarro in Salemme’s Sharon home, then solicited the help of then-mob capo Robert DeLuca and his brother Joe to bury DiSarro’s body behind a Branch Avenue mill building in Providence.

DiSarro’s disappearance largely remained a mystery for nearly a quarter-century, until his body was exhumed in 2016 after the FBI was tipped off to the grave. The revelation came after a drug bust collared the mill building’s owner.

Steven DiSarro Evidence photo_1526405099650.jpg.jpg
Steven DiSarro

Prosecutors said Salemme and his late son Frank Salemme Jr. killed DiSarro — a Providence native — because they feared he was going to cooperate with the FBI. DiSarro operated Boston nightclub The Channel when he was killed. Salemme and his son were silent partners in the club.

During closing arguments, Assistant U.S. Attorney William Ferland said DiSarro had not cooperated with the government, but prosecutors didn’t need to prove he did because the charge “murder of a witness” merely requires the accused to believe someone had cooperated or was going to.

In September, the 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the jury’s decision, rejecting the defendant’s arguments that the jury was given improper instructions about the defendant’s motive. Weadick made a separate argument that he was deprived of a fair trial because he was tried alongside a former mob boss.

A text to Salemme’s attorney was not immediately returned.

Weadick, 66, is serving his sentence at a federal prison in Waymart, Penn.

The DeLuca brothers were both key government witnesses at the trial. Robert DeLuca was serving time for lying to the FBI about what he knew of the DiSarro murder at the time. In November 2020 he was granted an early release after U.S. District Judge Denise Casper determined his health put him at heightened risk during the pandemic.  

DeLuca had renounced his membership in La Cosa Nostra ahead of his sentencing in 2018.

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.