FBI ID’s body exhumed from Providence as Massachusetts mob murder victim

Steven J. Disarro sits at a hearing on condo conversion at 313 Summit Ave., Brighton, at City Hall in Boston on April 7, 1981. (Joe Runci/Globe Staff)

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – The human remains exhumed from behind a mill building in Providence in March have been positively identified as a Boston nightclub owner believed to have been murdered in a gangland slaying in 1993.

The FBI along with the Rhode Island Medical Examiner’s Office said the remains discovered were that of Steven DiSarro, previously of Westwood, Massachusetts. He was 43 when he went missing.

“For 23 years, the family of Mr. Disarro has been awaiting news of his whereabouts,” said Harold Shaw, Special Agent in Charge of the Boston FBI said in a press release. “The thoughts and prayers of everyone in the FBI are with them during this difficult time.”

Shaw said the investigation is ongoing to find DiSarro’s killers “in an effort to bring them to justice.”

In the release, DiSarro’s wife said she was thankful for the people who searched for her husband’s remains.

Photos: FBI dig in Providence »
Photos: FBI dig in Providence »

“We look forward to the conclusion of the FBI’s investigation so we can learn as much as possible about what really happened to Steven and finally get some closure for our family,” Pamela DiSarro said in the statement.

The remains were identified through DNA analysis at the FBI Laboratory in Quantico, Virginia.

As Target 12 was first to report, FBI investigators began searching for human remains behind 715 Branch Ave. in Providence earlier this year. On March 31, human remains were removed from the site.

No one has ever been charged for DiSarro’s murder, though former New England mob boss Francis “Cadillac Frank” Salemme was indicted by the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Boston on two counts of obstruction of justice in 2004 for making false statements about what he knew about the murder.

DiSarro managed South Boston nightclub The Channel at the time of his death. According to a 2004 press release issued by the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Boston, when Salemme was indicted, prosecutors said DiSarro disappeared after the nightclub became the focus of a criminal probe by the FBI.

“The indictment alleges that Salemme and his son [Frank Salemme] had a hidden interest in The Channel, and that on or about May 10, 1993, the defendant Francis P. Salemme was present at the scene of Stephen DiSarro’s murder,” the 2004 press release said. “Salemme also assisted in burying DiSarro’s body to prevent its discovery.”

Salemme reached a plea deal with prosecutors in 2008 and pleaded guilty to the obstruction of justice charges, but never admitted a role in the homicide. He was sentenced to five years, but had already been in custody for roughly four when he was sentenced, so he had one year left to serve.

The property where the dig happened is owned by William Ricci, 69, who has agreed to plead guilty in a federal drug case.

Ricci was accused of growing marijuana in an old mill building that stands in front of where the dig is happening.

In court filings the Rhode Island U.S. Attorney’s Office has identified Ricci as a mob associate with ties to former La Cosa Nostra capo regime Robert “Bobby” DeLuca.

Ricci’s case has not been connected to the search for DiSarro. A spokesperson at the Rhode Island U.S. Attorney’s office has previously declined to comment.

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

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