High-ranking RI mobster talking to investigators in murder case against former mob boss

Broward County Sheriff's Office booking photo of Robert DeLuca

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – Robert “Bobby” DeLuca cooperated with law enforcement in a major organized crime crackdown in 2011, and a court document indicates he’s now talking again.

In an affidavit filed in federal court in Boston on Thursday, Massachusetts State Police Detective John Fanning said he spoke with DeLuca – who is being held on a charge of lying to federal investigators – about the 1993 murder of Boston nightclub owner Steven DiSarro.

DeLuca is a “capo” or a captain in the Patriarca crime family.

In the interview, DeLuca said he met with then-mob boss Francis “Cadillac Frank” Salemme in 1993, prior to DiSarro’s disappearance. DeLuca said Salemme told him he suspected DiSarro was stealing from the Channel nightclub, where investigators say Salemme was a silent partner.

“According to Deluca, he told Salemme Senior to ‘get rid of him,’” Fanning wrote in the affidavit. “Deluca stated that Salemme was going to have ‘Frankie Boy’ take care of it.”

According to the affidavit, Boston mobster Stephen “The Rifleman” Flemmi said he witnessed Salemme order his son – Francis Salemme Jr. – to strangle DiSarro. Flemmi claims DiSarro’s legs were held by mob associate Paul Weadick, who was indicted last week for his role in the murder.

The affidavit was filed to support the detention of Weadick, who prosecutors say is a flight risk.

DeLuca told the detective that about a week or two after the murder, he received “a coded page” from Salemme who told him DeLuca “had to be ready to receive a package and that he should dig a hole in advance.”

“Deluca understood ‘package’ to mean a body, but was unsure about the victim’s identity,” the affidavit states. “DeLuca believed that he could not refuse to get involved in the disposal of the body because to do so would result in his own death.”

He told the detective he and his brother Joseph took custody of the body in North Providence and they later disposed of it behind a mill building at 715 Branch Ave. in Providence.

Joseph DeLuca has not been charged in this case.

As Target 12 first reported, DiSarro’s body was exhumed from behind the Branch Avenue mill building this March, rekindling the investigation into DiSarro’s death.

The building is owned by William Ricci, who authorities have identified as an associate of DeLuca and was charged in a separate federal drug case.

In 2011, DeLuca cooperated with the FBI in a case that took down high-level mobsters including former mob boss Luigi “Baby Shacks” Manocchio. Prosecutors said at the time DeLuca claimed he knew nothing of DiSarro’s murder. He was charged in June with lying to investigators and is currently in federal custody.

It is unclear if DeLuca has again come to an agreement with prosecutors for any cooperation in the DiSarro case.

A call and email to DeLuca’s attorney, Carlos Dominguez, were not immediately returned. DeLuca’s prior attorney, Robert Dore Louis, was removed from the case after a judge ruled the government would not pay for his services and DeLuca had to seek a public defender.

Salemme was charged with murder of a witness last month. He is being arraigned on an indictment Thursday afternoon in Boston.

Salemme was arrested in Connecticut; investigators say he had fled his home in Atlanta in anticipation of being charged in the DiSarro case. He was in the witness protection program for cooperating in a case against James “Whitey” Bulger and Flemmi, and was living in Atlanta using the name Richard Parker.

Salemme’s attorney Steven Boozang has said his client did not take part in DiSarro’s murder and plans to take the case to trial.

The police interview with DeLuca is significant because until now, prosecutors were relying on the testimony of Flemmi, who Salemme’s attorney has said is an unreliable witness prone to making up lies.

Flemmi is currently serving a life sentence in a federal prison for convictions in two separate federal cases, including the one in which Salemme cooperated.

Salemme decided to work with the government after he learned Flemmi and Bulger – once close associates – were longtime informants for the FBI.

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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