The Lenny Senibaldi Sit-Down That Wasn’t: Boston Mob Don “Cadillac Frank” Suckered By Saugus Wiseguy On Day He Was To Be Slain In ’89

April 23, 2022 — Future New England mafia boss Francis (Cadillac Frank) Salemme arrived at the International House of Pancakes in Saugus, Massachusetts on the morning of June 16, 1989 expecting a sit-down with leaders of the Patriarca crime family’s Boston faction about a brewing beef regarding Lenny Senibaldi, per an FBI intelligence memo. The sit-down had been brokered by Boston mob solider Angelo (Sonny) Mercurio, who at the time was working with the FBI as a confidential informant.

It never occurred.

What did occur was a botched assassination attempt launched at Salemme and his No. 1 adviser, Charles (Charlie Q-Ball) Quintina, proving to be the first domino to fall in a cascade of mob violence that rocked the New England underworld for the next half-decade. Salemme was shot six times, but survived. Quintina avoided the attack all together by going to the bathroom inside the restaurant instead of following Salemme to a parking lot pay phone where he took fire.

According to FBI records, Senibaldi was having problems with a Salemme and Quintina-protected bookie and drug dealer related to a gambling debt and a dispute over an insurance payout. Usually flanked by bodyguards, Salemme came to the purported sit-down by himself in his new-model black BMW with $12,000 cash in a suitcase. Senibaldi lived in Saugus and that’s how the IHOP location on Broadway off US Route 1 was selected for the sit down.

At the time of the shooting, Salemme and Providence mob boss Raymond Patriarca, Jr. were in a power struggle with mafia crews in East Boston and the North End, headed by Joe (J.R.) Russo and Vinnie (The Animal) Ferrara, respectively, for control of New England’s Patriarca crime family. Cadillac Frank looked after Beantown for Patriarca, Jr. Russo was pushing for the weak Patriarca, Jr. to step down as boss so he could take over. He would settle for a consigliere appointment, but Patriarca did soon relinquish his reins when he got locked up in 1990.

Senibaldi was linked to Russo and about to be arrested in a kidnapping-conspiracy case in which Senibaldi had a drug dealer nabbed, threatened and ripped off for drugs, cash and jewelry because he wasn’t paying the mob tribute. He did four years in federal prison and died last summer in retirement in Florida at age 81.

The day Salemme was shot in June 1989, the Russo-Ferrara camp killed Patriarca, Jr.’s underboss Billy (The Wild Man) Grasso in Connecticut in a check-mate move that backfired. Russo and Grasso were not on good terms and Russo accused Salemme of shading the messages he was sending to Patriarca, Jr. in Rhode Island. Sonny Mercurio set the time and date for the IHOP meeting, knowing Russo intended on dispatching a hit team, instead of attending.

Salemme and Quintina met at the IHOP a half-hour before the sit down with Russo and Senibaldi was supposed to happen. After an hour of waiting and not seeing them, Salemme left the restaurant to go call Mercurio at the pay phone nearby. A blue Ford Taurus intercepted Salemme and two men inside the vehicle began shooting in his direction. Witnesses say a wounded Salemme started to take refuge in the restaurant’s vestibule, only to dart to a pizza parlor in the adjoining strip mall behind the IHOP for cover, as the Taurus sped off. It’s unclear if the $12,000 Cadillac Frank had with him that day was for Russo and Senibaldi or his lieutenant in Framingham, Tommy Hillary, who he was scheduled to eat lunch with that afternoon.

In the aftermath of the failed assassination, Salemme retreated to California. Upon Russo, Ferrara, Patriarca, Jr. and others being imprisoned the following year, Cadillac Frank returned to Boston and assumed the role as new boss of the Patriarca crime family. Salemme was close to Patriarca’s dad, longtime New England Godfather, Raymond Patriarca, Sr. (d. 1984). Several murders committed throughout the 1990s were attributed to Salemme’s thirst for vengeance towards the insurgent parties responsible for opposing his ascent and trying to kill him at the IHOP in 1989.

Salemme reigned until 1996, the same year Russo died behind bars of lung cancer. While incarcerated on racketeering charges, he flipped and entered the Witness Protection Program. Pulled out of the Program six years ago, the 88-year old Salemme was indicted for the 1993 gangland slaying of Boston nightclub owner Stevie DiSarro and convicted at a forthcoming trial.

This article was originally posted here