OPINION | Chris McCarthy: Why Would a Mafia Boss Move a Body?
The murder trial of former New England mafia boss Frank Salemme is fascinating and full of new questions with each day of testimony in the Boston courthouse.
Francis "Cadillac Frank" Salemme, Sr. and Paul Weadick are on trial for the murder of Steven DiSarro. The government alleges that DiSarro was murdered on the orders of Salemme, Sr., then the boss of the New England arm of La Cosa Nostra, because he believed DiSarro was a government informant and also stealing money from a nightclub he secretly owned with DiSarro and others. According to the government, the actual murder was committed by the boss' son, "Franky Boy," and Paul Weadick.
The government case is based on the testimony of mobsters who have decided to cooperate with federal prosecutions in the hope they can leverage their cooperation for a measure of leniency at sentencing.
DiSarro disappeared in 1993 and was found in 2016. He was found in a pit in Providence, Rhode Island, behind a warehouse that was owned by a wiseguy who had just been busted for growing marijuana with some Asian gangsters. The Providence wiseguy gave up the location of DiSarro's body to slip the drug charges. Knowing the location of a murder victim's body is a mobster's "Get Out of Jail Free" card.
The prosecution claims DiSalvo was murdered in Sharon, Massachusetts, and then his lifeless body was driven to Rhode Island for disposal. The government claims that the godfather of the New England Mafia, Francis Salemme, Sr. personally drove the body, alone, to Rhode Island and handed it off to Joseph Deluca.
Does it make sense that the leader of a mafia family would take possession of a murdered human and drive across state lines? By 1993, Frank Salemme was an experienced murderer and racketeer. He was aware of the government surveillance that he and his mafia associates were subjected to on a daily basis. He also believed the victim was a government informant (he was wrong), and also likely the subject of surveillance by law enforcement.
This was also a planned murder according to the government. Salemme contacted Mafia captain Robert "The Cigar" Deluca in advance of the murder and told him to be ready to accept and dispose of a body, in accordance with his loyalty to the mafia. DiSarro was brought to the house in Sharon and murdered, but not by "Cadillac Frank," and then the body was taken to Rhode Island for disposal, as had been previously arranged.
According to the government, Steven "The Rifleman" Flemmi, an uber gangster turned uber witness, just happened to walk into Salemme's house while the murder was happening. He is the only one who puts "Cadillac Frank" at the murder scene.
The government has immunity agreements with mafia members Joseph and Robert Deluca. They are the ones who put the leader of the New England mafia in possession of the body of DiSarro.
Salemme is alleged to have selected DiSarro for murder and arranged for others to kill him. He is alleged to have arranged, in advance of the murder, for his underlings to hide the body. However, according to the government, he personally took possession of a murder victim's body and drove it across state lines at a time when he knew he was under surveillance by federal, state, and local law enforcement. Does that make sense?
In 1993, when DiSarro was murdered, "Cadillac Frank" Salemme was the head of the Patriarca family. He was meeting with John Gotti. He was in control of the rackets in Massachusetts, Rhode Island, New Hampshire, Maine, and parts of Connecticut. He had interests in Las Vegas and California. He had fought a war to become one of the top mobsters in America and he had a stable of experienced killers around him.
Maybe Salemme did drive DiSarro's body to Rhode Island, but it doesn't seem like something a mafia boss would do, and it would probably be the first time in history it occurred.
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.