Frank Salemme

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Frank Salemme
Frank Salemme (mugshot).jpg
FBI mugshot of Frank Salemme
Born (1933-08-18) August 18, 1933 (age 84)
Weymouth, Massachusetts, USA

Francis P. Salemme [Salemmi], also known as "Cadillac Frank" and "Julian Daniel Selig" (born August 18, 1933), is a Boston, Massachusetts mobster who became a hitman and eventually the boss of the Patriarca crime family of New England before turning government witness.

Early years[edit]

In 1957, while in prison, Salemme became acquainted with Patriarca family mobster Anthony Morelli. After Salemme's release from prison, he started working with Morelli in criminal activities. Although Salemme quickly gained stature in the Patriarca family as an associate, he could not become a made man, or full member. Patriarca boss Raymond Patriarca respected Salemme for his obedience to the family and his skill as a money maker. However, Patriarca only allowed full-blooded Italians to become mad men, and Salemme was part Irish from his mother Anne Salemme (née Haverty). During the trial of retired FBI Agent John Connolly, Salemme denied under oath murdering a nightclub owner named Steven DiSarro in 1994. Two years later, however, Steve Flemmi was immunized and told US Attorneys Fred Wyshak and Brian Kelly that Flemmi saw Salemme participate in the murder of DiSarro. In fact, when Salemme was finished testifying against Connolly he went back to jail and bragged to a fellow inmate that the prosecutors had coached him to commit perjury and that he had committed so much perjury that he should be sentenced to jail for a hundred years. The fellow inmate was an informant who wrote Salemme's confession down and it is memorialized in law enforcement reports . Instead of charging Salemme with the murder of DiSarro, Wyshak and Kelly merely charged Salemme with perjury and obstruction. A secret plea bargain was struck and he was sentenced to little more than time already served. The perjury charge was self-serving in that it was a credibility roadblock to anyone using Salemme as a witness against federal prosecutors who coached him to commit perjury during Connolly's Boston trial. Salemme was free and living on taxpayer money in the Witness Protection Program until August 10th, 2016. He was ineligible for the Program due to his subsequent crimes and conviction, but he is accessible only to the US Attorneys so nobody else can question him about their misconduct. On April 1, 2016, a body was recovered from deep under ground behind the property of an associate of Salemme. The remains are believed to be those of Salemme's victim, Steven DiSarro. Federal prosecutors said Wednesday, Aug. 10, 2016, that the former Mafia boss had been arrested on charges related to murder of a witness. The witness was unnamed as of 8/11/2016, but is expected to be DiSarro. During the early 1960s, Salemme participated in the Irish Gang Wars in Boston. Testifying before Congress in 2003, Salemme admitted to murdering numerous rival gang members in Charlestown, Massachusetts:

"The Hugheses, the McLaughlins, they were all eliminated, and I was a participant in just about all of them, planned them and did them."

In 1968, Salemme arranged a car bombing of John Fitzgerald, a lawyer representing Patriarca mob informant Joseph Barboza. The point of the attack was to scare Barboza into not testifying against Raymond Patriarca and other mob leaders. Fitzgerald survived the attack, but lost his left leg. It was later established in testimony by several witnesses and confirmed by the U.S. House of Representatives Organized Crime unit investigation that Salemme was involved in the bombing, but did not carry it out.

After the unsuccessful attack, Salemme went into hiding. He remained a fugitive until 1972, when he was captured by FBI agent John Connolly on a Manhattan street in New York City. Salemme was convicted and sentenced to prison for 16 years.

Mob rivalry[edit]

In 1986, family boss Jerry Angiulo had been sent to prison on racketeering charges, leaving a power vacuum in the Patriarca family. In previous years, Salemme had forged strong ties to Whitey Bulger and the mostly Irish Winter Hill Gang. Salemme was especially close to Bulger's lieutenant Steve Flemmi (who by this time had been a federal informant for ten years). In early 1989, soon after his release from prison, Salemme attempted to gain control of the Patriarca family. Patriarca caporegime Joseph Russo opposed Salemme's move, fearing the loss of his lucrative rackets. In June 1989, Angelo "Sonny" Mercurio, a Russo loyalist, lured Salemme to a meeting outside a Saugus, Massachusetts IHOP. Gunmen then ambushed Salemme, wounding him in the chest and leg. The feud between Salemme and Russo continued until John Gotti, the boss of the New York Gambino crime family, brokered a peace agreement. Under the agreement, Salemme loyalist Nicholas Bianco became boss and Russo became consigliere. By 1991 Salemme, with the support of Bulger and Flemmi, had become the de facto boss of the Patriarca family.

Sting operation[edit]

During the 1990s, at the urging of Frank Salemme, Jr., Frank, Sr. started extorting money from a film crew that wanted to avoid paying high salaries to union workers while filming in Boston and Providence, Rhode Island. As it turned out, the film crew was actually a Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) front. These events were highly fictionalized in the 2004 film The Last Shot. At the end of the operation, Frank, Sr. was arrested in Fort Lauderdale, Florida and charged with racketeering, crossing state lines for criminal activity, extortion, conspiracy, and loansharking.

Government informant[edit]

In January 1995, Salemme was indicted on racketeering charges along with Bulger and Flemmi. Salemme was convicted and sentenced to 11 years imprisonment. In 1999, while serving his racketeering sentence, Salemme learned that both Bulger and Flemmi were government informants, and that both men had provided information on Salemme to their FBI handlers. Salemme now agreed to provide the government with information on the FBI handling of Bulger and Flemmi. Salemme's testimony would help convict FBI agent Connolly, the same man who had arrested him 20 years earlier in New York. In 2003, in return for assisting the government, Salemme was released early from prison and brought into the Federal Witness Protection Program. Shortly after his release, Salemme appeared before a Congressional committee to testify on the Connolly case.

Current status[edit]

In November 2004, Salemme was arrested for perjury during a federal investigation of the 1993 murder of nightclub owner Steve DiSarro. Prosecutors alleged that Frank Salamme, Jr., had strangled DiSarro in a Sharon, Massachusetts home and Frank Salemme had helped dispose of the body. However, Frank, Jr. had died in 1995 and Frank, Sr. denied any involvement in the murder. On July 16, 2008, Salemme pleaded guilty to perjury and obstruction of justice and was sentenced to five years in prison. Since the plea deal gave Salemme credit for four years already served in prison, he was expected to be released in January 2009. As of February 2009, it is assumed that Salemme is out of prison and re-enrolled in the Witness Protection Program.[citation needed] As of August 10th, 2016, Salemme is in custody of the federal government on charges of murdering a witness. "Court records say that Salemme is charged with murder of a witness on May 10, 1993, but do not identify the victim. That is the same date that Steven A. DiSarro was murdered in a Sharon home by Salemme and his late son, Frank."

External links[edit]

Preceded by
Nicholas Bianco
Patriarca crime family Boss
Succeeded by
Luigi Manocchio