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Court upholds Cadillac Frank Salemme's conviction for killing the owner of the Channel; he will now die in prison

A federal appeals court ruled today that Frank Salemme and henchman Paul Weadick got a fair trial in 2018 on charges they murdered the owner of the Channel nightclub to keep him from talking to federal investigators looking into Salemme's criminal activities.

The ruling means that barring a successful appeal to the Supreme Court or a pardon by the president, Salemme, 88, and Weadick, 66, will spend the rest of their lives in prison. Salemme is currently locked up at a federal prison hospital in Springfield, MO, Weadick at a federal prison in Waymart, PA.

Steven DiSarro bought the closed Channel club and re-opened it in 1992, although under a relative's name because he knew he was under federal investigation at the time. Salemme's son, Frank, Jr., kept a watch on his father's secret investment in the club as a part-time general manager. But then, twice, FBI agents told DiSarro he was about to be indicted and it would be in his best interest to tell them what he knew about Salemme's operations.

According to the feds, Salemme found out about this and decided to kill DiSarro to keep him from talking.

A federal jury in Boston agreed with prosecutors that Salemme and Weadick picked up DiSarro at his home in 1993, then drove to Salemme's house, where Salemme strangled him while Weadick held down his legs. As they were in the process of killing DiSarro, Whitey Bulger's enforcer and serial killer Stephen Flemmi - who was also a good friend of Salemme's - just happened to walk in, he would later testify against Salemme and Weadick.

Salemme then had a Mafia associate who owned a mill in Providence bury DiSarro's tarp-covered body there. DiSarro's body laid in the ground there until 2016, when an excavator, facing federal charges of his own, told federal investigators about it, which in turn led them to the mill's owner, who admitted to burying the body for Salemme.

At the time, Salemme was living in Atlanta under the federal witness protection program as part of a 1999 deal for ratting out Whitey Bulger after learning that Bulger and Flemmi had been cooperating with the FBI to get him locked up.

Salemme and Weadick were charged under a federal law that specifically makes it illegal to kill a witness in a federal investigation.

In their appeal, Salemme and Weadick both objected to evidence introduced by the government to prove they were part of the Mafia. Weadick also objected to evidence about events and relationships before he got involved with Salemme.

In its ruling, the US Court of Appeals for the First Circuit in Boston concluded there was nothing wrong with most of the evidence, that the two men's lawyers did not take advantage of an offer from the judge to challenge the contested evidence during the trial and that there was nothing wrong with trying both men together.

The court also held that while there was no proof that DiSarro had actually said anything to FBI agents, despite being approached by them twice, that doesn't matter under the federal law because evidence did show that both Salemme and Weadick were worried that he would sing, enough to kill him.

The court also concluded that the evidence showed that Weadick was, in fact, a Mafioso who would have good reason to help murder DiSarro to keep him from spilling any beans.

Simply put, it seems quite unlikely that Weadick would work scams with Frank Jr. backed by the threat of the NELCN [New England La Cosa Nostra] muscle, have access to the club's books while managing it as a front for NELCN leadership, and participate with Salemme himself in the murder of a threat to NECLN, all without himself having signaled his support of the criminal conspiracy known as NELCN.

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Comments

Adam - you wrote "Whitey Bulger's enforcer and serial killer Stephen Flemmi - who was also a good friend of Flemmi's". Besides loving himself, is there someone else in this story Flemmi was good friends with?

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Voting closed 10

Fixed, thanks!

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Voting closed 9

The Channel doesn't get the historical credit as places like the Rat, but was pretty important and different from most clubs in the 80's -- esp. for those of us who were just teenagers in the 80's, since all-ages shows were hard to come by back then, but the Channel did them on weekends.

In any case, for those interested in the details from the guy who started and ran the Channel until '92 (before being taken over by the mob), there's a podcast on the Channel's story. Specifically, for the end-story on how the mob took over, etc, scroll down to the bottom episode 10, parts 1 & 2:

https://thechannelstory.com/listen-%26-subscribe

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Voting closed 34

I saw some great shows at the Channel. My favorite was a James Brown concert. He arrived on stage 2-3 hours late, apparently high as a kite, and he and his band knocked it out of the park. Good times.

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Voting closed 17

If I recall correctly, there was a separate area (essentially caged) where they'd be able to serve alcohol at all-ages or 18+ shows. You'd have to show ID to get in. Is my mind making this up or was that real?

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Voting closed 12

They had a separate bar area that was directly in front of the stage, but a bit behind what you would call the dance floor. It was a kind of caged thing where you could see the band, but they had security to make sure you were 21 on the way in.

Lord I miss that place. They plan was to put the I-90 connector directly under the building. Big Dig engineers figured out late they couldn't float pre-made tunnel sections under the bridges on FPC. So the demolished the building to build the "casting basin" on it's footprint to construct the tunnel sections.

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Voting closed 7

You could only get in there if you were 21+ and it was open so you could see the stage, but there was a heavy chicken wire type fencing so you couldn't slip a drink to someone on the other side.

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Voting closed 10

Cocaine sales must have dropped off.

+1 Bad Brains 4 hours late to a gig and the patient were rewarded

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Voting closed 8

I'm not totally losing it.

I remember seeing Fugazi there (all ages daytime show I believe). And the Cavedogs / Dead Milkmen / Mojo Nixon tour. A few Reggae shows. My crappy band played there one weeknight.

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Voting closed 8

So that is why that place is cursed? I heard they hosted some legendary punk acts...

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Voting closed 9