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Former Mafia associate testifies he introduced murder victim to mob boss Francis Salemme


© FBI   Francis P. "Cadillac Frank" Salemme.

By Shelley Murphy and Martin Finucane, The Boston Globe

A former Mafia associate who is now in the witness protection program testified Thursday that he had introduced Steven DiSarro to the man who is charged with murdering him: mob boss Francis “Cadillac Frank” Salemme.

Thomas Hillary, 73, who is living somewhere under a new name, testified at Salemme’s trial in federal court in Boston that DiSarro was “a good, good kid.”

Salemme, 84, allegedly watched in 1993 while his son, Frank, strangled DiSarro and another man, Paul Weadick, held his legs off the ground. Prosecutors say DiSarro was murdered to prevent him from testifying against the Salemmes. DiSarro managed the Channel, a South Boston nightclub that Salemme and his son had a hidden interest in.

Salemme’s son died in 1995. Weadick, 62, is on trial with the elder Salemme in US District Court.

Hillary was close to another New England mob boss, Providence-based Raymond L.S. Patriarca, who died in 1984.

Hillary said he met Salemme in 1988. He said he, Salemme’s son, and Weadick sold fake marijuana to people who would never retaliate because “we are connected. “

Hillary told jurors of a violent encounter with Salemme, who grabbed him around the throat during a meeting at a restaurant in Boston’s Chinatown, accused him of stealing $4,000, and told him to get out of town or he’d kill him.

Early in his testimony, Hillary offered colorful recollections of the 1960s Mafia in Rhode Island, saying, “We had respect.”

“A guy comes over, says we can get a truckload of furs,” or maybe a truckload of liquor, Hillary recalled. “Those are what we’d call ‘scores.’ ”

Jurors were shown a photo from Hillary’s 1976 wedding at Rosecliff, a Newport mansion. Hillary said half the liquor from the open bar had been stolen from the back of a truck.

Nowadays, he said, “I live a complete different life and it’s a good life.” His only contact with the Mafia now? “I watch movies,” he said.

Hillary sighed with relief as he left the witness stand, then patted one of DiSarro’s sons on the shoulder on his way out of the courtroom and wished him and his brother well.

A police lieutenant from Westwood, where DiSarro lived, testified earlier about DiSarro’s wife filing a report that he was missing eight days after his May 10, 1993, disappearance.

DiSarro’s wife told police that in the weeks before he vanished from their home, “he has not been himself and believes he was being followed by federal agents, Boston police, and his questionable associates. Therefore she does not rule out foul play,” according to the missing person report.

Mrs. Disarro, apparently hopeful, also told police her husband “may have gone to Florida to assuage the pressure he is now under,” according to the report.

Salemme’s attorney Steven Boozang, said Wednesday in opening statements that Salemme is “no angel” and “grew up in a different era when there were gangland slayings. It was a little bit of kill or be killed back then.” But he said Salemme “categorically denies” any involvement in DiSarro’s slaying.

Weadick’s attorney, William Crowe, described his client as a 62-year-old plumber from Burlington who had nothing to do with DiSarro’s murder and has been unfairly swept up in a case involving a “high-profile” codefendant.

The case invoked memories of an era when Salemme and notorious gangster James “Whitey” Bulger were Boston’s preemininent organized crime figures.

Salemme’s one-time friend, Stephen “The Rifleman” Flemmi, was Bulger’s sidekick. But Salemme broke with Flemmi after learning that Flemmi and Bulger had been FBI informants. Flemmi and Bulger had rampaged through Boston’s underworld for years under the protection of corrupt FBI agents.

Flemmi is expected to testify he walked in on the DiSarro slaying and then hastily left.


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U.S. - U.S. Daily News: Former Mafia associate testifies he introduced murder victim to mob boss Francis Salemme
Former Mafia associate testifies he introduced murder victim to mob boss Francis Salemme
U.S. - U.S. Daily News
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