BOSTON, Mass. (WPRI) – “Frank wanted to kill him.”
In his second day on the stand, notorious Boston mobster Stephen “The Rifleman” Flemmi testified then-mob boss Frank Salemme didn’t trust Boston nightclub owner – and Providence native – Steven DiSarro.
Flemmi said Salemme had learned DiSarro had met with federal agents from the Internal Revenue Service and the Department of Transportation.
“He felt Steven DiSarro would implicate him if he got indicted,” Flemmi said.
Flemmi said on May 10, 1993, he walked in the backdoor of Salemme’s home in Sharon, Massachusetts, and saw Salemme’s son with DiSarro “by the throat, strangling him,” and codefendant Paul Weadick holding the victim’s legs.
Flemmi turned to the elder Salemme, who was in the room, and said, “Frank, I’m leaving, see you later.”
“I wanted to get away from there because Frank could be under surveillance,” Flemmi testified. “I didn’t want to be in the area. I wanted to leave as soon as I could.”
The 83-year-old mobster testified for prosecutors for nearly four hours over two days, but spent only 10 minutes on the DiSarro murder. The rest of the time Flemmi answered questions about the dozens of murders he committed or was involved with from the early 1960s to 1995, when he was arrested and imprisoned.
Flemmi – dressed in an olive-green prison-issue jacket, tan shirt and wearing glasses – is being held at an undisclosed federal prison that houses inmates who have cooperated with the government.
Shortly after the murder, Flemmi testified that Salemme told him they planned on disposing the body of DiSarro in Providence, and Rhode Island mobster Robert “Bobby” DeLuca was going to help out.
Salemme, 84, and Weadick, 62, are charged with murder of a witness. Salemme’s son died of natural causes in 1995.
The defendants have pleaded not guilty.
Under cross-examination by Salemme’s attorney, Steven Boozang, Flemmi admitted he had been involved in approximately 50 murders when he was on the street.
In 2004, Flemmi ultimately pleaded guilty to 10 murders. As part of the deal he was spared the death penalty for homicides in Oklahoma and Florida.
Boozang pressed Flemmi on why the longtime FBI informant didn’t provide information about the DiSarro murder until a decade after the homicide.
“I wasn’t cooperating until 2003, don’t you understand that?” Flemmi barked, adding that the information he would leak to FBI agent John Connolly was “minimal.”
“I never gave John Connolly any information about any murders – I was giving information on the Mafia,” Flemmi said. “They weren’t interested in anything else.”
Flemmi was not a made member of La Cosa Nostra, instead aligning himself with ruthless South Boston gangster James “Whitey” Bulger.
Flemmi’s testimony – usually delivered in a soft, even tone – was gruesome at times. He described how he would remove the teeth of Bulger’s murder victims – to make the bodies more difficult to identify – and then crush the teeth to dispose of them.
Boozang pressed Flemmi about the murder of his then-girlfriend Debra Davis, who Flemmi said had drawn the ire of Bulger when she learned about the pair’s relationship with Connolly. Flemmi said he walked Davis into his home, and Bulger was waiting there to strangle her. (Bulger was convicted of 11 murders in 2013, but not the killing of Davis.)
Asked if he closed his eyes while Bulger strangled her, Flemmi said, “I wish I did.”
“It’s very difficult for me to explain,” Flemmi said. “I am going to take the feeling to my grave.”
At one point Boozang sarcastically asked, “You’re an honorable guy, aren’t you?”
“I’m honorable when I have to be,” Flemmi said.