In hiding, former mob boss remained loyal NE sports fan

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – Former mob boss Francis “Cadillac Frank” Salemme left Boston to enter the Federal Witness Protection Program years ago, but his loyalty for Boston sports apparently never left him.

Several members of an Atlanta-based Patriots fan club told Target 12 that Salemme – under the alias “Richard Parker” – attended at least three game-watching parties in the last two seasons.

John Gray, president of the club, said Salemme always came to the gatherings alone.

“He seemed a little different, but he was Patriot fan so we embraced him,” Gray said. “We are a welcoming committee for all New England transplants and he happened to find us.”

Salemme was charged last week with “murder of a witness” for the 1993 slaying of Boston nightclub manager Steven DiSarro, formerly of Westwood, Massachusetts. DiSarro’s remains were exhumed from behind a Providence mill building in March.

Gray said a fellow fan club member shared an online article with others during a gathering for last week’s Patriots pre-season game against the New Orleans Saints.

“[I was] a little shocked – obviously that’s not typically the background of our members to say the least,” Gray said. “In retrospect maybe it was a little unnerving but fortunately there wasn’t any problems or trouble, he was just there as a fellow fan.”

In 1999 Salemme agreed to cooperate with the government after he learned two of his longtime underworld friends – James “Whitey” Bulger and Stephen “The Rifleman” Flemmi – were government informants. He testified against the pair as well as corrupt FBI agent John Connolly. In exchange he was given eight years behind bars for his crimes, including eight murders, and then entered the Federal Witness Protection Program.

According to court documents unsealed last week, Salemme had been living in Atlanta using the name Richard Parker.

“I knew the name because he bought some raffle tickets from us,” Gray said. “When the Patriots scored he raised his hands like everyone else, got all excited and fit right in.”

Gray said it was risky for Salemme to attend the parties if the 82-year-old gangster wanted to keep his true identity a secret, because several retired Boston police officers also attend the gatherings.

“He reminded me of Michael Madsen in the movie ‘Donnie Brasco,'” Gray said.

Salemme’s lawyer, Steven Boozang, declined to comment for this report but has previously said his client is innocent in the DiSarro case.

Gray said the Patriots club has more than 1,000 members. While he doesn’t condone Salemme’s murderous past, Gray said he’s “happy he was able to join us and hopefully had a good time.”

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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