Prosecutors ask judge to jail ex-Boston mobster charged in witness slay

September 8, 2016 9:44 AM EDT

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By Scott Malone

BOSTON (Reuters) - Federal prosecutors argued on Thursday that an alleged Boston ex-mobster accused of the 1993 murder of a man whose body was found earlier this year should be jailed until trial because his alleged victim was targeted because he was a witness to a crime.

That ex-mobster, 61-year-old Paul Weadick, and his 83-year-old ex-boss, Francis "Cadillac" Salemme, have been charged with killing Steven DiSarro, the owner of a mob-linked nightclub, because they thought he was talking to the FBI.

Weadick has already served time for manslaughter and that fact coupled with the charge of murdering a witness justify his detention, Assistant U.S. Attorney Fred Wyshak told a magistrate judge.

"Mr. Weadick's criminal record demonstrates he's a violent individual," Wyshak said. "This a case where they killed a witness to prevent a witness from providing information to law enforcement."

Weadick's attorney noted that his client has known he was a suspect in the killing since Stephen "The Rifleman" Flemmi, an associate of convicted Boston mobster James "Whitey" Bulger, first named him as a suspect more than a decade ago, and has no reason to flee because he is not guilty.

"He should be able to return home to his family while he defends his case," defense attorney Carmen Lepore said.

Magistrate Judge Donald Cabell declined to rule immediately on Weadick's request to be released on conditions that include posting a $50,000 bond and wearing a GPS monitoring bracelet.

Salemme, who appeared in court separately on Thursday to plead not guilty to the charges, has not asked to be released on bail, a nod to the fact that he has twice fled prosecution.

Lawyers for both men have attacked Flemmi, the government's main witness, as not credible. Flemmi, who has pleaded guilty to 10 murders, testified against Bulger at his former boss's 2013 trial. Both men are now serving life in prison.

"The whole thing is going to depend on his credibility, whether those jurors are going to believe what he's selling," Lepore said.

A Massachusetts state trooper involved in the case testified that a reputed mobster named Robert DeLuca arrested in connection with DiSarro's death said Salemme had discussed the killing with him, asking him to prepare a place to hide the body.

"Salemme called Bobby DeLuca and said you have to be ready to receive a package. Dig a hole," Trooper John Fanning testified. "Bobby DeLuca knew that package to be a body."

(Reporting by Scott Malone; Editing by Lisa Von Ahn, Bernard Orr)

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