Former Mafia boss Cadillac Frank pleads guilty

Former New England Mafia boss Francis “Cadillac Frank” Salemme pleaded guilty today to lying and obstruction of justice as part of a deal that may allow him to be released from prison by the end of January.

Salemme wore a charcoal-colored suit and a blue tie in US District Court this afternoon and took no chances as he formally entered his plea. He had mistakenly told Judge Richard Stearns that he was already 75 years old, and made it clear he did not want to be accused again of making a false statement.

“I want to make one correction,” Salemme said. “I won’t be 75 until Aug. 18th. Anything can happen, your honor.”

Stearns scheduled sentencing for July 15. Prosecutors and defense attorneys have both recommended that he serve five years in prison. With credit for the time he has served since his arrest on the charges in November 2004, plus earned good time, Salemme could be released by the end of January, prosecutors said.

Salemme pleaded guilty to a two-count indictment that charged him with making false statements and obstruction of justice after he began cooperating with investigators in 1999 in a probe into the FBI’s corrupt handling of longtime informants James “Whitey” Bulger and Stephen “The Rifleman” Flemmi. Salemme admitted he misled investigators when questioned about the 1993 disappearance of South Boston nightclub owner Steven DiSarro.

However, Salemme did not admit to allegations in the indictment that he watched his son, Frank, strangle DiSarro, then helped him dispose of the body. The younger Salemme died two years later of lymphoma. DiSarro’s remains have never been found.

A plea agreement signed by Salemme and filed with the court today says that he “denies any responsibility for the disappearance and presumed murder” of DiSarro. One of his lawyers, Steven C. Boozang, told the Globe in February that his client, “100 percent denies any involvement in DiSarro’s disappearance and presumed murder.”

Assistant US Attorney Brian Kelly said today that prosecutors were prepared to prove at trial that the defendant was present at the killing. The plea deal did not require Salemme to admit to each allegation in the indictment.

Stearns does not have to follow the recommendations to sentence Salemme to five years. Under federal guidelines, which are advisory, Salemme faces a sentence ranging from 51 to 63 months.

Salemme was indicted on racketeering charges in 1995, along with Bulger and Flemmi, then began cooperating with the government after learning Bulger and Flemmi were longtime FBI informants who had given authorities information about local Mafia leaders, including him. He pleaded guilty to racketeering and extortion charges and admitted participating in eight gangland murders in the 1960s.

Former Mafia boss Cadillac Frank pleads guilty – By Shelley Murphy, Globe Staff – April 14, 2008 04:12 PM –