Deluca to plead guilty for role in 1992 Federal Hill slaying

Broward County Sheriff's Office booking photo of Robert DeLuca
Broward County Sheriff's Office booking photo of Robert DeLuca

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – Rhode Island mobster Robert “Bobby” DeLuca is now admitting to his role in a 1992 Federal Hill slaying.

According to a plea agreement filed Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Boston, prosecutors write that not only will DeLuca plead guilty to lying to federal investigators in a separate case, he will also cooperate with the Rhode Island Attorney General’s office for taking part in the murder of a notorious underworld figure.

“Defendant has also agreed with the Rhode Island AG to plead guilty in Rhode Island Superior Court to one count of conspiracy to commit murder […] in connection with the 1992 murder of Kevin Hanrahan,” prosecutors wrote.

Kevin Hanrahan
Mugshot of Kevin Hanrahan who was murdered in 1992

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.

DeLuca has been talking to investigators in Massachusetts since he was arrested in June and charged with lying to investigators about what he knew of the 1993 murder of Boston nightclub owner Steven DiSarro.

DeLuca is scheduled to plead guilty Friday at federal court in Boston. Tuesday’s court filing dramatically expands the nature of that agreement by pulling in the Hanrahan murder.

The homicide has remained unsolved; no one has ever been charged in the murder.

It’s unclear if DeLuca, 71, has been officially charged in Rhode Island with the crime. Amy Kempe, a spokesperson for Attorney General Peter Kilmartin declined to comment.

In the Boston case, prosecutors have agreed to recommend a lesser sentence for DeLuca for his cooperation, but with a lengthy criminal history, it is likely he will be facing prison time. He has been held in custody since his arrest in June in Florida where he has been since cooperating with the FBI in a 2011 crackdown into organized crime in New England.

DeLuca faces a maximum sentence of 10 years for each count in the DiSarro case.

Investigators say DiSarro was strangled by the son of former mob boss Francis “Cadillac Frank” Salemme, while an associate – Paul Weadick – held his legs. Salemme jr. died in 1995, but the elder Salemme and Weadick have both been charged in DiSarro’s murder.

Court paperwork show DeLuca – who is a capo in the Patriarca crime family – has talked to investigators about what he knew of the murder.

In the interview with a Massachusetts State Police detective, DeLuca said he met with then-mob boss 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.”

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.

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