PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – In a letter to a federal judge, longtime mob captain Robert DeLuca said he has denounced the mafia and was just days away from being baptized at a Florida church when he was arrested on charges that have kept him in prison for two years.
DeLuca, 72, is set to be sentenced Tuesday after pleading guilty to obstruction of justice and two counts of making false statements for misleading investigators about what he knew of a 1993 gangland slaying.
In a letter to U.S. District Court Judge Denise Casper in Boston, DeLuca said he wanted her to know “how I changed my life and what I will be doing when I get back home to my family and children.”
“I am not making an excuse for what I done. I know it was wrong. I am sorry for it and I except [sic] full responsibility for it,” DeLuca wrote. “Before I got out of prison I denounced the mafia and was helping out the R.I. State Police.”
That was in 2006, when DeLuca was placed on work release and managed Providence restaurant “Sidebar,” (which has since changed names), owned by Providence attorney and friend of DeLuca’s Artin Coloian.
He later began cooperating with the FBI, even wearing a wire on fellow wiseguys that helped topple much of the New England La Cosa Nostra in a sweeping 2011 case.
“Once I started cooperating, except for my brother I never tried to protect anyone in the Mafia,” DeLuca wrote.
DeLuca told the judge that after he cooperated with the government in the 2011 case, he went to Florida with his wife and two young children (DeLuca has two adult children from a previous marriage who live in Rhode Island).
“From the day I helped the government and went to live in FL, I lived a good honest family life,” DeLuca wrote. “I never as much got a parking ticket.”
DeLuca said for a time the government was paying his rent and bills, but when that money stopped he had trouble making ends meet. With his history, he couldn’t find work so he sold items at a local flea market.
He also found God, he said.
“I went and got saved and was going to be baptized the next Sunday,” he wrote. “I got arrested the Monday before.”
“It will be one of the first things I do when I get out,” he continued.
DeLuca’s attorney is asking for a sentence of four years in prison after he pleaded guilty in June in the obstruction of justice case. According to prosecutors – who recommended 5 1/2 year sentence – someone with DeLuca’s criminal history could get around 12 years.
DeLuca was a key witness in the murder trial against former New England mob boss Francis “Cadillac Frank” Salemme and associate Paul Weadick. In June, a jury found them guilty in the 1993 murder of Boston nightclub owner – and Providence native – Steven DiSarro.
DeLuca testified he coordinated the disposal of DiSarro’s body at the behest of Salemme by getting a crew to dispose of the remains behind a mill building on Branch Avenue in Providence. DiSarro’s body was exhumed in 2016.
DeLuca’s older brother Joseph, also a made member of the mob, testified at trial as well.
In his letter, DeLuca said as soon as he heard investigators were digging behind for remains, he called federal prosecutors and told them he wanted to tell them everything he knew. He had previously told them he knew nothing of DiSarro’s disappearance.
But he wrote his lawyer was informed they couldn’t talk at that time, and DeLuca knew he was going to be arrested.
“I didn’t try to run away. I waited until they came to get me,” he wrote. “They rang the doorbell and I went with them.”
While in prison, DeLuca said two “very close friends” offered to pay rent for his family for a year, one of them being Coloian.
His attorney Carlos Dominguez filed a motion Wednesday seeking a lighter sentence for DeLuca.
“Mr. DeLuca is 72 years-old and is not the same man he once was,” Dominguez wrote. “He has not been involved with members of the underworld since his decision to cooperate with the government in 2011.”
In addition to the sentencing on Tuesday, 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 both cases, DeLuca will likely be given credit for the two years he has served since being arrested in 2016.