OPINION | Chris McCarthy: Is Salemme Still a Mafia Member?
"Cadillac" Frank Salemme is on trial for the 1993 murder of a government witness. He has been in witness protection since 1999. But did he leave the Mafia?
Joseph Deluca, a member of the Mafia in Rhode Island, testified last week under a grant of immunity about his role in the murder of Steven DiSalvo. Francis Salemme, Sr. is accused of ordering his late son Frank, Jr. and co-defendant Paul Weadick to murder DiSalvo, and ordering Robert "The Cigar" Deluca and his brother Joe to dispose of the body.
Salemme is on trial today because he refused to admit his role in the DiSalvo murder when he made an immunity agreement with the government. The government claims he was protecting his son when he lied, except his son died in 1995 and his immunity agreement was done in 1999. Salemme refused to admit the DiSalvo murder, even though he would have likely faced no punishment because he had confessed to multiple murders in his immunity deal.
Who was Salemme protecting, and why was he protecting them?
Maybe he was actually protecting himself, the Mafia and his financial interests in the underworld.
During the cross-examination of Mafia turncoat Joe Deluca, Salemme's lawyer attempted to discredit the honesty of the witness. He pointed out that Deluca had taken an oath in court to tell the truth, and he had taken an oath to his friends and family in the Mafia. He was violating his Mafia oath to his friends and family, so why should anyone believe he would actually live up to the oath he had taken in court?
Journalist and Boston Mafia expert Bob Ward of Boston 25 television reported on Twitter that Salemme's attorney made a distinction between Joe Deluca as an informant and his client.
Attorney Elliot Weinstein, a longtime attorney for people accused of organized crime associations, said, "Do you know it's not a violation against the oath of Omerta [the Mafia oath] to testify against a corrupt FBI agent?"
Attorney Weinstein was properly defending his client by distinguishing his client from the government's witness. However, his distinction is important, because he may have inadvertently told us that his client is to be believed because he didn't violate his oath to the Mafia. Does that mean Salemme is still a member of the Mafia in good standing?
Is Salemme on trial today because he was protecting his honor as a member of the Mafia and the other members of his secret society? Was he still earning money from crime while a guest of the government as a member of the witness protection program?
Chris McCarthy is the host of The Chris McCarthy Show on 1420 WBSM New Bedford. He can be heard weekdays from 10 a.m. to noon. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @Chris_topher_Mc. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.