Florida detention hearing looming for mobster Robert DeLuca

Broward County Sheriff's Office booking photo of Robert DeLuca

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – A judge in Florida will decide Thursday whether or not Rhode Island mobster Robert “Bobby” DeLuca should remain behind bars or be set free before he returns to the Northeast to face charges that he lied to the FBI.

DeLuca, 70, was arrested Monday and is being held by the Broward County Sheriff’s office as he awaits his fate.

The one time mafia capo regime hasn’t been seen in Rhode Island since he became a government informant in 2011. His cooperation was key in bringing down several New England underworld figures and associates.

A booking photo taken in Florida on Monday shows an aging DeLuca with a gray goatee and wearing a dark prison-issued shirt.

No matter what the judge decides on Thursday, DeLuca will have to eventually appear in a federal court in Boston to face new charges. A spokeswoman for the Massachusetts U.S. Attorney’s office said if DeLuca is denied bail, he will be transferred to the U.S. Marshal’s Service for transport.

Reached by phone, his attorney in Florida Marshal Dore Louis, declined to comment about what he expected out of Thursday morning’s hearing.

DeLuca was arrested Monday by FBI agents and investigators from the Rhode Island and Massachusetts State Police. An indictment unsealed Monday accuses him of lying to federal investigators about what he knew of a 1993 gangland slaying of Boston nightclub manager Steven DiSarro.

Prosecutors say DeLuca claimed he knew nothing of DiSarro’s disappearance when he was questioned by investigators in 2011 as part of his transition to become a government informant.

But prosecutors said not only did DeLuca know what happened to DiSarro, he helped coordinate where to bury the body: behind a Providence mill building owned by his friend William Ricci.

In March, the FBI and Rhode Island Medical Examiners office exhumed the body of DiSarro after a week of digging behind Ricci’s Branch Ave. building.

Ricci was charged in a separate drug and firearms case and struck a plea deal with prosecutors, he is set to be sentenced in October. The Rhode Island U.S. Attorney’s office has declined to comment if there is a connection between the two cases.

According to court documents, federal prosecutors are recommending Ricci gets 45 months in prison.

The indictment against DeLuca confirms he 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.

In the indictment against DeLuca, investigators say DiSarro was murdered by former New England mob boss Francis “Cadillac Frank” Salemme and his son, Frank, 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.”

No one has ever been charged with 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.

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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