BOSTON (AP) – Francis “Cadillac Frank” Salemme, the former boss of the New England mob, turned down a chance for a lighter prison term Tuesday and was sentenced to five years in prison for lying to authorities investigating the FBI’s connections to gangsters.

Probation officials recommended a term as short as three and a half years for Salemme, who has spent more than two decades in and out of prison. But he stuck to an earlier deal he reached with prosecutors.

“I stand by the 60 months that we had agreed to – that’s all,” Salemme, 74, told Judge Richard Stearns before he was sentenced.

Salemme, who has already served nearly four years while awaiting trial, is expected to be released in December or January, with credit for good time earned in prison, his attorneys and prosecutors said.

As part of the plea deal, Salemme admitted lying while he was negotiating a 1999 plea bargain with authorities who were investigating the FBI’s corrupt relationship with gangsters James “Whitey” Bulger and Stephen “The Rifleman” Flemmi.

He said he lied when he suggested that former mob boss Nicholas Bianco was involved in the 1993 disappearance of Boston nightclub owner Stephen DiSarro. He denied then – and again Tuesday – having anything to with DiSarro’s disappearance himself.

DiSarro’s body has never been found and no one has been charged with his death.

Probation officials recommended a sentence of 41 to 51 months, using a lower-than-expected score for his criminal history, one of the factors used to calculate a sentence range under federal sentencing guidelines. But Salemme’s attorney, Kevin Reddington, said Salemme felt “a deal is a deal” and did not want to argue for less.

Assistant District Attorney Brian Kelly detailed Salemme’s extensive criminal background, including the 15 years he spent in state prison before being released in 1988, his ascension to become boss of the New England mob in the 1990s, his conviction on racketeering charges in 1999 and his most recent indictment on obstruction charges in 2004.

“He is no stranger to the criminal justice system,” Kelly said. “We think the defendant deserves 60 months in jail, not a day less.”

Salemme, Bulger and Flemmi were indicted on racketeering charges in 1995. Salemme began cooperating with authorities after finding out that Bulger and Flemmi were informants who had given the FBI information about him and other local Mafia leaders.

In 1999, prosecutors granted Salemme immunity for his participation in eight gangland slayings and other crimes in exchange for his testimony in the corruption case of former FBI Agent John Connolly Jr. Salemme testified that Connolly had tipped off him, Bulger and Flemmi before they were indicted in 1995. Bulger has been a fugitive ever since.

Prosecutors later credited him for helping them convict Connolly, and a judge shaved more than two years off his 11-year sentence on racketeering and extortion charges.

He was released from prison in 2003, but a year later he was indicted for lying to federal investigators.

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