Unsolved 1992 Federal Hill mob murder getting fresh look

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – The recent arrests of two high-profile organized crime figures has prompted state and federal investigators to reexamine a 1992 gangland slaying, the Target 12 Investigators have learned.

Mob enforcer Kevin Hanrahan was gunned down on Federal Hill on September 18, 1992. According to police officials previously interviewed, as well as media reports at the time, Hanrahan was walking out of the former Arch Restaurant on Atwells Avenue in Providence when he was approached by two men. He was shot three times to the head and died later that night at Rhode Island Hospital.

In 2010, two FBI criminal informants alleged former Patriarca crime family mob boss Francis “Cadillac Frank” Salemme ordered the hit of Hanrahan. According to court filings, the informants said Hanrahan was shaking down a Taunton, Massachusetts bookmaker for protection money.

One of the informants and another man paid a visit to a man named Gordon O’Brien to complain about the shake-down. The affidavit describes O’Brien as “a significant organized crime figure in Southeastern Massachusetts.”

The informant claims that during that meeting, O’Brien made a phone call to Salemme and within days Hanrahan was murdered, according to the affidavit.

O’Brien has since died.

No one has been charged in the Hanrahan murder, but now the mob cold case is heating up again because Salemme was taken into custody on another murder.

On August 10, Salemme was charged by the Boston U.S. Attorney’s office with murder of a witness, for his alleged role in the 1993 homicide of Boston nightclub manager Steven DiSarro.

DiSarro’s body was exhumed from behind a Providence mill building in March.

In 1999 Salemme became a government witness after he learned his underworld colleagues – James “Whitey” Builger and Steven “The Rifleman” Flemmi – had been FBI informants for decades. As part of a plea deal with prosecutors at the time, Salemme admitted to his role in eight murders, but not Disarro’s or Hanrahan’s.

Salemme’s attorney Steven Boozang declined to comment for this report but in the past has denied Salemme had anything to do with either crime.

Also charged in the DiSarro case was longtime Rhode Island mobster Robert “Bobby” DeLuca.

Federal investigators say DeLuca lied to them about what he knew of the murder when he became a government witness in 2011.

Target 12 has learned state and federal authorities are also looking into what he knows of the Hanrahan murder.

DeLuca’s court-appointed attorney in the DiSarro case did not return a call for 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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