Thursday, October 06, 2011

Where's Robert P. “Bobby” DeLuca Sr.

Where’s Bobby?

That’s the question that has been on the minds of mobsters, law-enforcement officials and followers of organized crime since four mobsters and mob associates were indicted last week on federal racketeering and extortion charges for shaking down several strip clubs and collecting $25,000 from a woman they threatened at work. But the indictment makes no mention of Robert P. “Bobby” DeLuca Sr., a major player in the New England La Cosa Nostra for more than three decades.

In papers filed in U.S. District Court, federal prosecutors noted that “made members” of the mob have cooperated with them in their investigation, and they have and will continue to rely on them in the prosecution of Edward C. Lato and Alfred “Chippy” Scivola Jr., made members of the New England mob, along with mob associates Raymond “Scarface” Jenkins and Albino “Albie” Folcarelli.

“During the course of this investigation, the FBI has developed additional witnesses, including formally initiated or made members of the New England La Cosa Nostra, who will testify that the [mob] exists, and will further testify about the activities of its members,” the papers say.

The prosecutors, William Ferland and Sam Nazzaro, also wrote that “these witnesses” will testify about the secret mob initiation ceremony in which the “made men” take a blood oath of loyalty to omerta, otherwise known as La Cosa Nostra’s code of silence. Part of the oath requires the mobsters to engage in acts of violence, including murder, when called upon by ranking members of the criminal enterprise.

DeLuca is an expert on mob initiations. In 1989, he was one of several mobsters, including then-mob boss Raymond J. “Junior” Patriarca, whom the FBI captured on tape during an induction ceremony in a house outside of Boston. DeLuca was one of the mobsters who, that day, became a “made man,” or full-fledged member of La Cosa Nostra.

The recording was the first time the FBI had ever recorded a mob induction, and it has been played at countless mob trials to show that the Mafia does indeed exist.

DeLuca’s star rose quickly in the mob. Once a small-time hood, the now-inducted wiseguy hitched his wagon to Boston-based mob boss Francis “Cadillac Frank” Salemme. But the high times were short-lived. In 1996, DeLuca was sentenced to 10½ years in federal prison for his role in the shakedown of Paulie Calenda, a Cranston businessman and mob associate.

The jury was convinced at the colorful trial, featuring sobbing strippers, mob informants and gangland thugs, that Gerard T. Ouimette, a feared mob enforcer, threatened Calenda for a $125,000 extortion payment. The panel also concluded that Ouimette was acting under orders from DeLuca.

The court papers filed last week do not identify the cooperating mob witnesses in the recent sweep, but they have fueled plenty of speculation that DeLuca has switched allegiances and is now working for his longtime nemesis: the Justice Department.

It’s ironic that some believe DeLuca is now a government informant, an accusation he cast about 10 years ago against fellow mobster Anthony M. “The Saint” St. Laurent Sr.

The indignity of being called a turncoat so infuriated St. Laurent that he solicited a Taunton, Mass., man to kill DeLuca. St. Laurent, 70, who is in a wheelchair and has been seriously ill for more than a decade, was charged and convicted of orchestrating the murder-for-hire scheme. He was just sentenced to seven years in federal prison.

At a recent news conference announcing the indictment and arrests, Peter F. Neronha, the U.S. Attorney for Rhode Island, refused to identify DeLuca or anyone else as witnesses for the government. Instead, he said, that he would only discuss what was in the indictment.

Jim Martin, Neronha’s spokesman, issued a standard “no comment” to a series of questions about DeLuca.

Is DeLuca cooperating in the federal investigation? Has he joined the federal witness protection program? Are the federal authorities concerned about the safety of the mobster, his wife and two small children?

“No comment,” he said.

The same questions were posed to state police Supt. Steven G. O’Donnell, a longtime mob investigator who has tracked DeLuca’s criminal activities for more than 20 years.

“I can’t tell you if he’s cooperating or not,” he said. “I have no concerns for Bobby’s safety or anybody’s safety” who chooses a life of organized crime. “That’s the world they live in.”

In North Providence, there is no sign of DeLuca, his wife, Gina, a former hairdresser, or their two young children. At first, nobody thought much about not seeing him around. Each summer, he would travel to Saratoga Springs in August for the annual horse races, but this summer he never returned to his old haunts.

In June 2009, Gina DeLuca bought the large, 4,746-square-foot colonial-style house for $340,000 from Christina Schadone, wife of Rep. Gregory J. Schadone, D-North Providence. On Aug. 1, less than two months ago, the house next to Greystone Elementary School, was placed on the market for $335,000.

The furniture has been cleared out and little more remains than steel-brushed appliances and a chandelier in the front foyer.

Paul M. Martellini, the acting police chief in North Providence, said he knew that the mobster lived at the address, but his department has received no reports of foul play involving the DeLucas. He checked the department records and said that police responded to the house on the morning of July 1 for a false alarm. At the time, he said, the family was living there.

“We have had no contact with him other than the alarm,” Martellini said. “We didn’t know that he hasn’t been around.”

After DeLuca wrapped up his federal prison sentence, he returned to Rhode Island and spent a few years in the state prison system.

Over the past six years, DeLuca, now 66, has worked at the SideBar & Grill, a small restaurant and nightclub at the corner of Dorrance and Pine streets. The establishment’s owner is lawyer Artin H. Coloian, once a top aide to ex-Providence Mayor Vincent A. Cianci Jr.

Coloian hired DeLuca back in 2006 when he was in a work-release program at the Adult Correctional Institutions. He remained a fixture at the restaurant after he completed his prison sentence. He was often seen hanging out with Coloian or puffing a cigar as the two strolled down Dorrance Street.

Coloian, who has defended DeLuca in the past, insisted that his client is not cooperating with the federal authorities, but he refused to say whether he’s still employed at his restaurant.

“I’m not obligated to tell you who my employees are or are not,” he said, adding that he would not disclose the last time he saw the mobster.

Thanks to W. Zachary Malinowski

No comments:

Post a Comment