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Tuesday, July 15, 2008

"Cadillac Frank" Salemme Gets Five Years in Prison

Former New England Mafia boss Francis "Cadillac Frank" Salemme was sentenced today in federal court to five years in prison on charges of lying and obstructing justice. With credit for time served, the sentence handed down by US District Judge Richard G. Stearns means that Salemme will be free by Christmas. Salemme, 74, pleaded guilty in April to a two-count indictment in US District Court in Boston.

Salemme has admitted that after he began cooperating with the government in 1999 -- in an investigation into the FBI's corrupt handling of long-time informants James "Whitey" Bulger and Stephen "The Rifleman" Flemmi -- he lied about the 1993 disappearance of South Boston nightclub owner Steven DiSarro.

Prosecutors alleged that Salemme watched his son, Frank, strangle DiSarro at a Sharon home, then helped his son dispose of the body. The younger Salemme has since died of lymphoma. But in his plea agreement, Salemme denied any responsibility for the "disappearance and presumed murder" of DiSarro.

Asked by the judge at today's hearing if he had anything to say, Salemme said he wanted to "categorically deny" any involvement in DiSarro's murder. Salemme said he believed he had cooperated fully with law enforcement. "I've done what I thought was right all along," he said.

On his way out of the courtroom, a handcuffed Salemme in a black suit with a crisp shirt looked at his brother, Jack, and said, "Give my love to the kids."

Outside the courtroom, Jack said, "He's just going to fade off into the sunset and he doesn't want to come around here."

"As far as Frank is concerned, he stuck by his end of the bargain and it's over now," said Jack, "I don't think he's ever coming back to the Boston area."

Salemme became the head of the New England mob in the early 1990s. He ruled during a bloody power struggle until his indictment on federal racketeering charges in January 1995, along with Bulger and Flemmi.

He pleaded guilty to racketeering and extortion and admitted participating in eight gangland killings in the 1960s. A judge reduced his sentence in 2003 because his cooperation had helped convict former FBI agent John J. Connolly Jr. of racketeering. Salemme testified that Connolly had warned him, Bulger, and Flemmi to flee just before they were indicted in 1995. Bulger remains a fugitive.

Salemme was released into the federal witness protection program in 2003. He was indicted on the most recent charges a year later.

Thanks to Shelly Murphy

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