BOSTON (Reuters) - An octogenarian former New England mob boss will be sentenced on Thursday for the 1993 murder of a nightclub owner whose remains were discovered buried in Rhode Island two years ago.
Francis "Cadillac Frank" Salemme, 85, and his associate, Paul Weadick, 63, face mandatory life prison terms after a federal jury in Boston convicted them in June of killing club owner Steven DiSarro because they believed he would cooperate with U.S. investigators looking into organized crime.
The case stemmed from an era when organized crime in Boston was run by Salemme, who headed the New England family of La Cosa Nostra in the 1990s, and James "Whitey" Bulger, the gangster serving life in prison. Bulger's criminal career was depicted in the 2015 film "Black Mass."
Salemme's lawyers plan to appeal. They contend the prosecution's star witness lied about witnessing the crime in order to implicate a top organized crime figure and hopefully win a reduction in his own sentence.
Salemme had a secret interest in a South Boston music venue called The Channel that DiSarro had purchased, prosecutors said.
Stephen "The Rifleman" Flemmi, a longtime partner of Bulger's who had known Salemme since the 1960s, testified during the trial that Salemme had been concerned DiSarro was speaking to authorities and might implicate him in criminal activities.
Flemmi, the prosecution's star witness who is serving a life sentence for 10 murders, said he witnessed DiSarro's strangling on May 10, 1993, when he went to Salemme's home to talk to the Mafia boss.
Flemmi said he saw Salemme's now-deceased son, Frank Jr., strangling DiSarro as Weadick held his legs and the elder Salemme watched.
Flemmi, 84, said he quickly left because he was concerned Salemme might be under surveillance. But he said Salemme later told him DiSarro was killed and that his body was buried at a Rhode Island construction site.
Some of DiSarro's relatives and friends are expected to testify at the sentencing, prosecutors said.
Salemme was only charged in 2016 when authorities discovered DiSarro's remains behind a mill in Providence, Rhode Island.