Witness for defense in mafia murder trial says he feared Flemmi, not Salemme

LAWRENCE, MASS. (WHDH) - The victim in this case — channel nightclub manager Steve DiSarro — feared for his life.

But according to the star witness for the defense in the murder trial of mafia kingpin “Cadillac” Frank Salemme, he wasn’t afraid of the defendant. He was wary of the government’s star witness — Steven Flemmi — and told him as much in the weeks before he disappeared in May of 1993.

“He came to me in fear of his life,” said witness John McAveeney. “Stevie Flemmi was gonna kill him.”

And he didn’t mention Salemme, the defense attorney asked?

“Not at all,” McAveeney said.

McAveeney, a movie producer, told the jury he gave DiSarro some petty cash and a credit card and told him to get out of town. But the government says Salemme had his son, Frankie Jr., strangle DiSarro because the mafia had a hidden interest in The Channel and he was under pressure from the FBI to talk.

McAveeney popped up as a witness just one week ago.

The prosecutor, Fred Wyshak, hit the witness hard, questioning why he took 25 years to come forward, and whether he’s simply looking for attention as he develops books and movies. At one point, Wyshak asked, “You’re a gangster wanna be kind of guy, right?”

McAveeney later said he thought the prosecutor went too hard at him, saying, “he didn’t have to attack my character.”

McAveeney’s quote from DiSarro is heresay evidence. The judge instructed the jury that they can only consider it on DiSarro’s emotional state and not the truthfulness of what he said to his friend.

The jury gets the case and will begin deliberations Monday.

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