Thursday, 4:30 PM
'Cadillac Frank,' the former mob boss, asks judge to drop new charges
By Shelley Murphy, Globe Staff
Lawyers for former New England Mafia boss Francis "Cadillac Frank" Salemme urged a federal judge today to dismiss obstruction of justice and perjury charges against him, arguing that a grand jury never would have indicted him if it had been told about the notorious exploits of the government's key witness, Stephen "The Rifleman" Flemmi.
"Nothing was presented to the grand jury that allowed them to weigh the credibility of Flemmi,"
said Robert A. George, one of three lawyers representing Salemme on charges he lied to the government about his role in the 1993 slaying of a South Boston nightclub manager.
George said the entire case against Salemme hinges on the word of Flemmi, a longtime FBI informant who is serving a life sentence after pleading guilty to killing 10 people, including two women. George called Flemmi "an animal" and a liar.
Salemme, 74, pleaded guilty to racketeering and admitted participating in eight gangland murders in the 1960s. A judge freed him in 2003 after eight years in prison because his cooperation helped the government convict retired FBI agent John J. Connolly Jr. in 2002 of protecting Flemmi and his fellow informant, fugitive gangster James "Whitey" Bulger.
In November 2004, Salemme was indicted on new charges. He was accused of lying to investigators in 1999 when he denied any knowledge about the disappearance of Steven A. DiSarro, the manager of the now defunct Channel nightclub.
Flemmi claims that Salemme was present when DiSarro was slain on May 10, 1993, and helped bury his body. He said Salemme had been granted immunity but lied about the killing because he wanted to hide the alleged involvement of his brother, John Salemme, and his late son, Frank.
Today, Salemme's lawyers argued that the government shouldn't be allowed to use any of the statements their client made about DiSarro because a team of prosecutors and police officers interrogated him without his lawyer present.
Assistant US Attorney Brian Kelly argued that Salemme's statements should be allowed at trial because he knew he didn't have to talk to investigators without his lawyer. "This was certainly not his first brush with law enforcement," Kelly said.
As for Flemmi, Kelly said the new grand jury knew about his reputation because he detailed his own involvement in murders and his testimony was "riddled with his bad acts."
US District Judge Richard G. Stearns has yet to rule on the defense motions and is weighing a request to hold a hearing on Salemme's claims that his statements were obtained improperly.
After he began cooperating with the government, Salemme admitted participating in eight gangland murders in the 1960s. In November 2004, Salemme was indicted on new charges.