Mobster DeLuca arrested in connection with 1993 gangland slaying

Mobster Robert DeLuca, foreground, seen with his then-attorney Artin Coloian outside Providence federal court 2009.

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – Notorious Rhode Island mobster Robert “Bobby” DeLuca has been arrested and charged with lying to investigators about a 1993 gangland slaying.

Jim Martin, a spokesperson for the Rhode Island U.S. Attorney’s Office, said DeLuca was arrested Monday morning in Florida by FBI agents. He said the charges are from a federal indictment out of Massachusetts.

A spokesperson for the FBI in Boston said investigators from the Rhode Island and Massachusetts state police assisted in the arrest.

The Target 12 Investigators have learned DeLuca, 70, is accused of lying to federal investigators about the murder of Steven DiSarro, whose remains were unearthed behind a Providence mill building earlier this year.

DeLuca faces a three-count indictment including obstruction of justice and making false statements.

A spokesperson for Massachusetts U.S. Attorney Carmen Ortiz did not immediately return a call for comment. The Boston Globe first reported DeLuca’s arrest.

DeLuca appeared in federal court in Fort Lauderdale late Monday morning where the case was unsealed. He is being held in custody until a detention hearing scheduled for Thursday.

Marshall Dore Louis was listed as DeLuca’s “temporary” attorney in the court filing. In an email she said “at this time I have no comment on the matter.”

The indictment confirms DeLuca cooperated with the FBI in a 2011 case that cracked down on organized crime in New England. It states DeLuca was indicted and reached a plea deal with prosecutors as part of that case and was given one day in prison for helping the FBI.

The FBI along with the Rhode Island Medical Examiner’s Office exhumed DiSarro’s remains in March. Using DNA results, his body was positively identified earlier this month. DiSarro, previously of Westwood, Mass., was 43 when he went missing.

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.

In the indictment against DeLuca, investigators say DiSarro was murdered by former New England mob boss Francis “Cadillac Frank” Salemme on May 10, 1993.

“Salemme arranged with the defendant DeLuca to dispose of the body at a location in Providence, Rhode Island,” the indictment states. “Shortly after the murder of DiSarro, Salemme transported DiSarro’s body to Providence, R.I., where the defendant Deluca arranged to have the body buries in the vicinity of 715 Branch Ave.”

As part of the 2011 plea agreement, prosecutors said DeLuca was supposed to “provide complete and truthful information” about what he knew of any other crimes he was involved with.

During a March 2011 questioning by FBI agents, Deluca “falsely stated” that he had “no information regarding the disappearance of Stephen DiSarro.”

DeLuca has previously been identified as a capo regime in the Patriarca crime family by federal investigators.

No one has ever been charged for DiSarro’s murder, though the elder 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.

Salemme’s son died in 1995.

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.

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 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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