FILE - This 1995 file photo taken in West Palm Beach, Fla., and released by the FBI shows Francis P. "Cadillac Frank" Salemme, convicted of killing a nightclub owner in 1993. Salemme faces life in prison when he is sentenced in federal court on Thursday, Sept. 13, 2018, in Boston. (Federal Bureau of Investigation via AP, File)

Ex-Mafia boss 'Cadillac Frank' sentenced to life in prison

September 13, 2018 - 12:23 pm

BOSTON (AP) — An 85-year-old former New England Mafia boss who was convicted of killing a nightclub owner in 1993 to keep him from talking to authorities was sentenced to life in prison Thursday.

Francis "Cadillac Frank" Salemme, the onetime head of the New England family of La Cosa Nostra, was found guilty in June in the slaying of Steven DiSarro, whose remains were discovered in 2016.

Salemme's co-defendant, Paul Weadick, also received a mandatory life sentence.

Before being sentenced, Salemme stood up and said the "real story" will one day come out.

The federal prosecutor, Fred Wyshak, called Salemme ruthless and barbaric and said he "richly deserves to spend the rest of his life in prison."

Salemme's trial transported jurors back to a time when the Mafia was a feared and powerful force in Boston and its environs. With slicked-back grey hair and a frail frame, Salemme is almost unrecognizable from the bulky mob boss depicted in grainy surveillance photos from his heyday.

Another former mobster told authorities that he saw Salemme's son strangle DiSarro while Weadick held the nightclub owner's feet and Salemme stood by. Salemme's son, known as "Frankie boy," died in 1995.

Authorities at the time were looking into Salemme's involvement in DiSarro's nightclub, the Channel. Federal authorities had told DiSarro he was about to be indicted and should give them information on Salemme.

Salemme and Weadick's lawyers said the other mobster, Stephen "The Rifleman" Flemmi, was lying to take Salemme down and help himself. Flemmi, who was notorious gangster James "Whitey" Bulger's partner and once good friends with Salemme, is serving a life sentence for killing 10 people.

Salemme and Weadick insisted they had nothing to do with DiSarro's killing.

Salemme, who has admitted to a slew of other killings, was living in Atlanta under the name Richard Parker in 2016 when the FBI received a tip the remains were buried near a mill building in Providence, Rhode Island. Salemme's lawyer questioned why he would admit to those slayings but never fess up to ordering DiSarro's death.

Salemme decided to cooperate with the government after learning that Bulger and Flemmi had been informing the FBI behind his back. In exchange, the government cut his sentence for a 1999 racketeering conviction and he entered the witness protection program.

He was kicked out of witness protection in 2004 when he was charged with lying to investigators for suggesting another mobster killed DiSarro, but was later allowed back under government protection.