BOSTON (AP) — Former New England Mafia boss Francis "Cadillac Frank" Salemme was unrepentant Thursday as he was sentenced to life in prison for the 1993 killing of a nightclub owner, declaring that the "real story" will come out one day.
Salemme, the 85-year-old onetime head of the New England family of La Cosa Nostra, looked down at the table in front of him and read a document while the children of the man he's convicted of killing described the pain of losing their father and not knowing his whereabouts for more than two decades.
"While there is closure in this case, for me the healing is just beginning," Steven DiSarro's daughter, Colby, told the court. "This is not a movie. This is and has been our life: the story of a family who was robbed of the love and affection of their father."
Salemme and his co-defendant, Paul Weadick, were found guilty in June in the slaying of DiSarro, whose remains were discovered in 2016. Weadick also received a mandatory life sentence on Thursday.
Before being sentenced, Salemme rose from his chair, called the proceeding "ridiculous" and said DiSarro's family hasn't been told the truth.
"The real story about what happened here has not been out yet," said Salemme, who wore his gray hair slicked back and a bright orange jumpsuit. "But it will come out. It will come out in time," he said.
Longtime federal prosecutor Fred Wyshak at one point choked back tears as he spoke about the crimes of the mobster, after whom Wyshak has been going since the 1990s.
"This man is ruthless, barbaric and he is an individual who richly deserves to spend the rest of his life in prison," Wyshak said.
Salemme's trial transported jurors back to a time when the Mafia was a feared and powerful force in Boston and its environs. With slicked-back grey hair and a frail frame, Salemme is almost unrecognizable from the bulky mob boss depicted in grainy surveillance photos from his heyday.
Another former mobster told authorities that he saw Salemme's son strangle DiSarro while Weadick held the nightclub owner's feet and Salemme stood by. Salemme's son, known as "Frankie boy," died in 1995.
Authorities at the time were looking into Salemme's involvement in DiSarro's nightclub, the Channel. Federal authorities had told DiSarro he was about to be indicted and should give them information on Salemme.
Salemme and Weadick's lawyers said the other mobster, Stephen "The Rifleman" Flemmi, was lying to take Salemme down and help himself. Flemmi, who was notorious gangster James "Whitey" Bulger's partner and once good friends with Salemme, is serving a life sentence for killing 10 people.
Salemme and Weadick insisted they had nothing to do with DiSarro's killing.
Salemme, who has admitted to a slew of other killings, was living in Atlanta under the name Richard Parker in 2016 when the FBI received a tip the remains were buried near a mill building in Providence, Rhode Island. Salemme's lawyer questioned why he would admit to those slayings but never fess up to ordering DiSarro's death.
Salemme decided to cooperate with the government after learning that Bulger and Flemmi had been informing the FBI behind his back. In exchange, the government cut his sentence for a 1999 racketeering conviction and he entered the witness protection program.
He was kicked out of witness protection in 2004 when he was charged with lying to investigators for suggesting another mobster killed DiSarro, but was later allowed back under government protection.