BOSTON — In a Mafia induction ceremony in 1989, Robert Deluca drew blood from his trigger finger as fellow alleged mobsters burned a Madonna prayer card and vowed to never betray the mob’s code of silence.
“As burn this Saint, so will burn my soul. I enter into this organization alive, and I will have to get out dead,’’ Deluca recited in Italian as he became a “made man” in the mob at the Medford initiation that was secretly bugged by the FBI.
Newscenter 5 has learned that Deluca, who is a reputed capo in the New England crime family, has betrayed the blood oath.
He has agreed to cooperate with the FBI and act as a star witness in the James “Whitey” Bulger case, several sources said.
In 1995, DeLuca was indicted along with Bulger, Steven “The Rifleman” Flemmi, James “Jimmy the Bear” Martorano and Francis “Cadillac Frank” Salemme in a plethora of racketeering charges.
But, by the time Deluca and his codefendants were arrested, Whitey Bulger was gone. He was tipped off to the pending indictment and went on the lam until his arrest in Santa Monica this June.
While Whitey Bulger was on the run, Deluca pleaded guilty to six counts of conspiracy, racketeering and interference with commerce by threats of violence charges and served 34 months in a federal prison, according to court documents.
By the time Bulger – who topped the FBI’s Most Wanted List – was captured, law enforcement sources said Deluca was losing his Rhode Island power base as the Mafia’s leadership roles shifted back to Boston.
In recent months, Deluca vanished from his base on Federal Hill and has not been seen in the North End.
His North Providence home has been sold.
His wife and two kids have vanished.
“We saw the moving truck there and they were gone,’’ said Grace Olsen, Deluca’s next-door neighbor.
Deluca is one of several mob bosses to “flip” in recent years. In New York, Bonanno crime family boss Joseph “Big Joey” Messina cooperated with the government to avoid a death sentence. The Philadelphia Mafia’s boss, Ralph Natale, also made a deal.
“Historically it was very rare,’’ retired Massachusetts State Police Det. Lt. Bob Long said of Mafia leaders becoming cooperators. “Now rumors are that Deluca is doing the same thing…
“It appears that the old days of following the code of silence, the omerta, of this thing of ours is crumbled. It’s like a bygone era,” said Long.
Deluca’s neighbor said living next to a mob boss had its benefits.
“We were very sad to see him go,’’ Olsen said.
When asked if she knew about his cooperation agreement, she nodded.
“Knowing him and having broken bread with him,’’ she said, “I think that he did what he had to do to protect his young family.”