At Nick Rizzuto's wedding in 1995, RCMP and Laval police officers were so shutter-happy the guests might have taken them for official wedding photographers.
Now that the reputed Canadian Godfather's eldest son is about to be buried, all eyes — and lenses — will be focused on his funeral.
Gunned down Monday outside a real-estate developer's office in Montreal, no date has yet been set for Nick Rizzuto Jr.'s funeral.
Vito Rizzuto, the slain man's father, though previously known as the Teflon Don, is currently serving a 10-year sentence in the United States for racketeering, related to three murders that occurred in the 1980s. His sentence will end in 2012.
It will be up to the prison warden of a Colorado jail to decide whether he will be able to attend his son's funeral in the coming days. Rizzuto can request permission to leave the jail and cross the border, and if granted would have to pay for whatever travel expenses that would entail, as well as pass all security measures, said U.S. Federal Bureau of Prisons spokeswoman Felicia Ponce.
Ponce could not comment on whether the elder Rizzuto has made such a request, however.
Whether Rizzuto's grandfather and namesake, Nicolo Rizzuto Sr., will attend the funeral is also a matter of speculation.
He is the only one of six Mafia leaders arrested in Montreal in 2006 and sentenced for gangsterism-related charges who is not behind bars, but must obey the conditions of his probation — including not to associate with known criminals.
Whoever is able to attend the funeral will likely be under close scrutiny by both police and criminal elements assessing the strength of the once very powerful crime syndicate.
Adrian Humphreys, author of The Sixth Family: The Collapse of the New York Mafia and the Rise of Vito Rizzuto— a Rizzuto biography — and an organized crime reporter for the National Post, expects the funeral to be a large affair with people coming from across Canada, the United States and Italy to pay their respects.
"The funeral will be a terribly sad affair featuring a large and loving family weeping for a young father cut down early in life," Humphreys said Wednesday. "It will also be seen as an occasion for criminal associates of all stripes to pay respects to a family who have dominated the criminal landscape of Canada for decades. Police will also be watching closely. Investigators look for signs of who is showing their respect to whom and who avoids whom."
Not since the murder of crime boss Paolo Violi in 1978 has someone as prominent as the son of the reputed head of the Mafia been the target of an assassination. Indeed, it was Violi's assassination that solidified the hegemony of the Rizzuto clan in Montreal.
Having immigrated to Montreal from Sicily in 1954 — when Vito was eight — Nicolo Rizzuto Sr. was a so-called "man of honour" among other Mafiosi until Violi was shot in the back of the head while having dinner at a restaurant.
Both Nicolo Sr. and Vito were out of the country when the killing occurred, but three men associated with the Rizzutos were later convicted of Violi's murder.
After the murder of three Mafia captains in New York — for which Vito Rizzuto was arrested in 2004 and pleaded guilty to racketeering charges in 2007 — Vito became known as the Godfather of the Canadian Mafia.
Nicolo Sr. and Vito both moved into palatial homes in the north end of Montreal that came to be known as "Mafia row" as other family members followed suit. But with Vito Rizzuto now behind bars, Nick Jr. has been said by police to be looking after the Rizzutos' financial dealings and allegedly acting as the point of contact between the Mafia and other criminal factions in Montreal.
He had no criminal convictions however, other than for impaired driving.
According to Humphreys, Nick Jr., as the eldest son of the reputed Godfather and the namesake of the family's patriarch: "was a tremendously powerful symbolic target. However, police did not believe he was next in line to lead the Rizzuto criminal organization. He was not the crowned prince."
Nick Jr. was revealed by construction company proprietor Tony Magi to have been involved with the real estate business of late.
Magi was the victim of an attempted murder last year.
Nick Rizzuto Jr. was 42 when he was shot dead just after noon on Monday not far from the offices of FTM Construction, owned by Magi.
Thanks to Catherine Solyom
Wednesday, December 30, 2009
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