March 26, 2022 — The audacious double-hit power play pulled by a New England mafia faction based out of Boston in the late 1980s was intended to be a triple-hit power play, according to FBI records. On June 16, 1989, Patriarca crime family underboss Billy (The Wild Man) Grasso and capo and aspiring boss Francis (Cadillac Frank) Salemme were targeted as part of a mob war raging in the crime family, pitting Boston and Providence factions against each other for power in the borgata. Salemme’s future consigliere was supposed to be murdered with Salemme, but he averted the hit attempt by chance of fate.
Grasso was killed and dumped on the banks of the Connecticut River that afternoon. Earlier that morning, Salemme survived an assassination attempt staged in the parking lot of a Saugus, Massachusetts International House of Pancakes. The murder contract was put out on Grasso, Salemme and Salemme’s No. 1 adviser, Revere, Massachusetts capo, Charles (Charlie Q-Ball) Quintina, who was inside the restaurant when the hit on Salemme down outside. Quintina had excused himself to use the restroom when Salemme went to a nearby pay phone where he was caught in the hit team’s crosshairs.
The pair was set up by Boston mob soldier and FBI informant Angelo (Sonny) Mercurio. Quintina’s police rat sheet dated back to the 1930s and included pinches of armed robbery and bookmaking.
Although he was shot 6 times by a staccato of gunfire coming from a van carrying his enemies, Cadillac Frank managed to take refuge inside a nearby Papa Gino’s pizza parlor. After a week in the hospital, Salemme went into a short semi-exile in Los Angeles before returning to Beantown and making his way up to the boss’ chair. Mercurio had lured Salemme and Quintina to the IHOP that day back in the summer of 1989 on the pretense of settling a beef with an associate both sides of the conflict were claiming as “on-record” with them.
Springfield, the county seat of mob power in Western Massachusetts, backed the alliance of Boston crews and the Connecticut regime. Boston’s Irish mob lined up behind the Patriarca’s Providence wing. Three members of the Springfield group participated in Grasso’s killing. The hit team tasked with killing Cadillac Frank came from the North End and East Boston factions of the Patriarca clan.
The New England underworld descended into chaos in the 1980s in the wake of Godfather and crime family namesake Raymond Patriarca’s sudden death of a heart attack in 1984, propelling his son, the ill-equipped Raymond Patriarca, Jr. to the throne. The Patriarca’s home office was located in Rhode Island. Boston capos Joe (J.R.) Russo and Vinnie (The Animal) Ferrara grew to oppose Patriarca, Jr.’s reign and sought to force him out of the power.
Salemme, who lived in Boston and Grasso, who resided in New Haven, were Patriarca’s muscle. Russo and Ferrara, represented the East Boston and North End troops, respectively.
Charlie Q-Ball backed the Providence group in the family split. He went on to succeed Russo as consigliere of the Patriarca organization. Patriarca, Jr. eventually stepped down as boss and most of the combatants in the war were imprisoned shortly thereafter, laying the ground for Cadillac Frank’s ascent. Upon Salemme becoming boss in late 1990, he tapped Charlie Quintina as his consigliere. Salemme’s regime lasted until 1996. Quintina did three years behind bars for racketeering (1995-1998) and died peacefully back at home in Revere at age 85 in 2001.
Cadillac Frank Salemme flipped in 1999 and entered the Witness Protection Program. In 2016, he was arrested for an old cold-case homicide he never told authorities about — the 1993 gangland slaying of nightclub owner Stevie DiSarro in Salemme’s Sharon, Massachusetts home. Convicted in the case, Salemme, 88, is serving a life sentence in a federal correctional facility. DiSarro and Salemme were business partners in a South Boston rock venue turned strip club and Salemme suspected DiSarro was cutting a deal with the feds to testify against him.
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