New England ex-mob boss 'Cadillac Frank' Salemme dies in prison at 89

Salemme was serving a life sentenced for the 1993 killing of a Boston club owner

Former New England Mafia boss, Francis "Cadillac Frank" Salemme, died Tuesday at the age of 89, according to the Bureau of Prisons. 

Salemme, who was serving a life sentence for the 1993 killing of a Boston nightclub owner, led the Patriarca crime family in Boston in the early 1990s. 

Salemme was living in Atlanta under the name Richard Parker when remains of the nightclub owner, Steven DiSarro, were unearthed in 2016. 

FILE: This 1995 file photo taken in West Palm Beach, Fla., and released by the FBI shows Francis P. "Cadillac Frank" Salemme.

FILE: This 1995 file photo taken in West Palm Beach, Fla., and released by the FBI shows Francis P. "Cadillac Frank" Salemme. (ederal Bureau of Investigation via AP, File)

Salemme maintained he had nothing to do with DiSarro's death, but was convicted after his onetime best friend testified against him.

Salemme’s reign as Mafia boss ended when he, notorious Boston gangster James "Whitey" Bulger and others were charged in a sweeping racketeering case in 1995. Salemme and Bulger fled after they were tipped off to the impending indictment by Bulger's FBI handler, John Connolly Jr.

Salemme was arrested in Florida several months later while Bulger spent 16 years on the lam before being captured at the age of 81 in Santa Monica, California. Bulger was killed by fellow inmates in prison in 2018 at the age of 89.

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The racketeering case revealed that Bulger and Salemme's best friend, Stephen "The Rifleman" Flemmi, had secretly worked as FBI informants. Upset that his fellow mobsters had turned on him, Salemme agreed to plead guilty and cooperate with authorities.

Salemme testified in 2002 against Connolly, who was convicted of helping Bulger avoid prosecution. In exchange, Salemme was released from prison early and entered the witness protection program.

DiSarro's nightclub, The Channel, was under scrutiny at the time for the Salemmes' involvement in the business. Just before DiSarro's death, the FBI told him he was about to be indicted and should cooperate with the government against the Salemmes.

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Salemme's death was first reported Sunday by WPRI-TV.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.