The Chicago Syndicate: Vito Rizzuto
Showing posts with label Vito Rizzuto. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Vito Rizzuto. Show all posts

Thursday, February 22, 2018

Leonardo Rizzuto and Stefano Sollecito, Alleged Mafia Leaders, Acquitted of Criminal Charges

Two men alleged to have been the leaders of the Mafia in Montreal were acquitted of criminal charges after a judge ruled the police illegally wiretapped them in the offices of their lawyer.

Leonardo Rizzuto and Stefano Sollecito were acquitted of charges of gangsterism and conspiracy to traffic cocaine by Quebec Superior Court Judge Eric Downs after the judge excluded the wiretap evidence gathered by a joint police task force in 2015 as a violation of the constitutional right to solicitor-client privilege. Most of the Crown’s evidence against the pair came from a conversation that was intercepted in a meeting room and in the reception area of the law office.

“The judge recognized that you don’t enter a law office like you do a warehouse” to conduct a wiretap operation, Daniele Roy, the lawyer representing Sollecito, said on Monday evening.

The wiretap was a first in Canada because the police installed hidden microphones around the law office, Roy said. The judge ruled in favour of Sollecito and Rizzuto’s request to have the evidence excluded because the authorities had not put in place sufficient measures to prevent the interception of conversations between lawyers and other clients at the office, she added.

Sollecito and Rizzuto were arrested in 2015.

Rizzuto, the son of Mafia boss Vito Rizzuto, who died in 2013, had been detained since his arrest. Sollecito, whose father, Rocco Sollecito, was murdered in Laval in 2016, was granted bail by a court in 2016 to so he could undergo treatment for cancer.

Rizzuto is still facing charges of possession of a firearm and drug possession. However, he was expected to be released on bail to await the outcome of the other case.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Iced: The Story of Organized Crime In Canada

If police really want to end the gang war raging throughout the Lower Mainland, they might want to have a sit-down with the Hell's Angels.

That is one of the more provocative suggestions by criminologist Stephen Schneider, who has written a new book called Iced: The Story of Organized Crime in Canada.

"The most powerful criminal group in B.C. is probably the Hell's Angels," Schneider said. "They have a lot of ties to the United Nations gang, so they could possibly step in and end the violence."

Born and raised in Richmond, Schneider now teaches criminology at St. Mary's University in Halifax. He went to Steveston secondary. His parents, Werner and Shirley, still live in Richmond.

In an interview with the News, Schneider said organized crime has deep roots in Canada -- largely tied to smuggling -- and is not going to go away.

"If you are going to outlaw certain vices and certain substances that are in high demand -- like cocaine or marijuana -- you're going to have organized crime, and you're going to get violence. And you just have accept this is the reality."

Not that Schneider believes legalizing drugs is necessarily the answer. But neither is what he calls "ad hoc, piecemeal" laws like the Conservative government's new crime bill, which includes minimum sentences for some crimes.

For one thing, punitive measures don't have much of a deterrent on the lower echelon criminals who carry out the grunt work for organized crime, largely due to their upbringing. "It may deter you and me, but it is not going to deter the chronic offender," he said.

The biggest impact of the crime bill may be on prosecutors. "The prosecutorial services are just completely overwhelmed," he said. "By bringing in minimum sentencing, what you've done is create even more work for the prosecutors."

Richmond has been spared the recent spate of gang slayings, although it still has a significant organized crime presence, Schneider said.

The gangs here are largely Asian -- not surprising, given its demographics, he added.

Schneider said he is surprised by all the "hand-wringing" over the recent spate of gang-related shootings in the Lower Mainland.

The public is reacting like this is something new, when in fact gang wars have been erupting in Canada for the last couple of decades, he said. "It was ignored and downplayed by police officials and politicians for years, and now it's caught up to us and sort of bit us on the ass," he said. "Now we're dealing with the aftermath of a lot of neglect."

Schneider said there has been more gangland violence in the last 20 years than any other period in our history.

He blames the recent trend, in part, on a rising "underclass" that has produced a generation of young men coming from poverty and broken homes who are easily drawn into the criminal lifestyle.

He said the few countries that have had success fighting organized crime are countries like Denmark, Sweden and Finland, which have put resources into addressing the root causes of crime. "They're fairly crime-free because they have such a strong social welfare system."

Schneider has studied the roots of organized crime in Canada and found they go back as far as the 17th century, when pirates operated of the Atlantic coast.

The one constant in organized crime here is smuggling.

Canada was the back door for smuggling booze into the U.S. during prohibition. And whereas today B.C. is famous for its marijuana, at the turn of the century B.C. was famous for producing opium.

With three vast coastlines to police, Schneider said Canada simply does not have the resources to stop the smuggling of drugs, or any other contraband, that fuels organized crime.

He concedes there may be some legitimacy to the criticism -- the U.S. being our harshest critics -- that Canadian laws and immigration policies are too lax and help fuel the drug trade that is the bread and butter for organized crime.

"I do believe that the lenient prosecution of marijuana traffickers may help the proliferation of the industry," he said. "But on the converse of that, there's no evidence whatsoever that strong punitive penalties have any impact on organized crime. If that were the case, then China and the United States and Russia would be the most crime-free countries in the world and they're not."

If there is any hope of ending the current gang war in B.C., it may come -- ironically enough -- from organized crime itself. "Quite frankly, law enforcement is quite limited in what they can do," Schneider said.

Gang wars draw a lot of heat, and sometimes prompt the more powerful organized crime leaders to step in because it is bad for business.

In the 1990s, a biker war in Quebec resulted in 160 deaths.

Schneider said it is widely believed that it was Montreal Mafia boss -- Vito Rizzuto -- who stepped in and helped put a stop to the killings. And in the 1980s, Schneider said it is believed some high-powered crime bosses from China intervened in a gang war raging in Vancouver among Asian gangs.

He said the Hell's Angels may well be the organization best position to put a stop to the blood feud going on.

He believes B.C. has been spared the kind of biker wars Quebec has suffered because the Hell's Angels are in control here. "There was never any biker war in B.C. because the Hell's Angels were the only biker gang in town. They controlled everything."

Thanks to Nelson Bennett

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Funeral Home Owned by the Rizzuto Reputed Mafia Family, Hit by Arson Again

A funeral home with ties to the Mafia in Montreal's north end was the target of an arson attack early Tuesday.

No one was injured in a fire that broke out at the Loreto Funeral Complex, located on Grandes-Prairies Boulevard in the borough of Saint-Leonard.

Damage was minimal, but a can of gasoline was found behind the building, police said.

The funeral complex is owned by members of the Rizzuto family and has been the site of several high-profile services, including for Nicolo Rizzuto, the family patriarch, and his son Vito Rizzuto, the reputed former head of the Montreal Mafia.

The funeral home was also targeted by arsonists in 2011.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Assassinations & Firebombs on Rise as Mobsters Fight to be Boss, Hells Angels could be Winner

Once feared and respected within the underworld, Montreal's Mafia has become a shadow of its former self as rival clans battle each other to see which Mob boss will become the city's next godfather.The civil war within the Montreal Mob is being played out in a series of assassinations and, increasingly, firebombings of businesses linked to Mafia associates.

Police suspect Mafia activity was behind at least 13 firebombings in the greater Montreal region last year, almost double the seven they identified in 2015, said a communications officer for the Montreal police.

The latest case of Mafia-linked arson may have occurred Monday morning, when a strip mall in Laval's Vimont neighbourhood went up in flames. Police are describing the fire as "suspicious."

Among the four businesses that were destroyed was Streakz Coiffure, a hair salon owned by Caterina Miceli. Another one of Miceli's salons was firebombed last week.Miceli is married to Carmelo Cannistraro, who was arrested in 2006 as part of an RCMP-led crackdown on the Mafia.

RCMP documents submitted to Quebec's Charbonneau inquiry list Cannistraro as an associate of Frank Arcadi, one of the Mafia bosses in the Rizzuto clan.


The spate of firebombings has been accompanied by a series of grisly killings around the Montreal area, largely targeting those linked to Vito Rizzuto, the one-time godfather who turned the city's Mafia into one of the most successful organized crime operations in North America.

Rizzuto, known as the Teflon Don, pleaded guilty in an American court to racketeering charges in 2007 in exchange for a 10-year sentence in connection with the 1981 murders of three alleged gang leaders at a New York social club.He died of natural causes in 2013, 15 months after his release from a Colorado prison. Other members of his clan haven't been so fortunate. 

Last October, Vincenzo Spagnolo was shot to death at his home, also in Laval's Vimont neighbourhood. Organized crime experts say Spagnolo, 65, served as the right-hand man to Rizzuto. At the time, provincial police said Spagnolo's death appeared to be the result of a "settling of accounts" within the Mafia.

Last May Rocco Sollecito was gunned down while driving his BMW SUV through Laval.

He was suspected of acting as an adviser to Vito Rizzuto's son Leonardo, who allegedly took over from his father. The younger Rizzuto is currently behind bars, awaiting trial on gangsterism and drug-trafficking charges.

Leonardo's brother, Nick Jr., and grandfather, Nicolo, were shot dead in 2009 and 2010 respectively. 


​In the early days of the bloodletting, it was unclear to observers who was behind the violence: street gangs, the Hells Angels and Mafia clans from outside the city were all tossed around as possibilities. But Pierre de Champlain, a former organized-crime analyst for the RCMP, increasingly believes the violence is coming from within the Montreal Mafia's own ranks.

The Rizzutos, originally from Sicily, took charge of the Mafia after wrestling power away from the Cotronis, from Calabria, in the late 1970s and early 1980s.

Nicolo Rizzuto managed to successfully transfer the crown to his son, Vito. Under their leadership, de Champlain said, Montreal became an important hub in the international drug trade, a way-station for cocaine on its way to the U.S. But Vito's death created a vacuum. And the ongoing violence is a sign no one has been able to establish himself as a strong leader in his place, someone capable of earning the respect of the various factions within the Mob.

"We may suspect at the moment that the so-called Calabrian faction has an advantage because the Sicilian factions have been severely hit with casualties over the last years," de Champlain said.

"So you might think that the Calabrian factions might be behind these fires, but that doesn't mean the Sicilians are not responding to this."

As the war wages within the Mafia, if indeed that is what's happening, other organized crime groups have been able to reassert themselves.

This has notably been the case with the Hells Angels, which — after being weakened by police arrests and internal conflicts of their own — have emerged once again as a force within Quebec's underworld.

"There is no war against them, and they are not at war with anyone," de Champlain said.

"The longer their war goes on, the more the Mafia is weakened."

Thanks to Jonathan Montpetit.

Tuesday, February 02, 2016

Inside the Last Great Mafia Empire

Inside the Last Great Mafia Empire (Cosa Nostra News: The Cicale Files).

Dominick Cicale was born and raised in the Bronx, New York. From a young age he was closely associated with the Genovese crime family, considered the most powerful Mafia group in America. Fate intervened. In 1999 Cicale forged a tight alliance with Vincent "Vinny Gorgeous" Basciano, then an up-and-coming member of the Bronx faction of the Bonanno crime family. Under Basciano's tutelage, Dominick rode the fast track: he was inducted into the American Cosa Nostra and swiftly rose from soldier to capo, amassing great wealth and power. Cicale befriended and associated with numerous high-ranking figures within all of New York's Five Families as he plotted and schemed in a treacherous world where each day could be his last.

This installment views startling details surrounding the brutal gangland murder of Gerlando "George from Canada" Sciascia and its resulting impact on relations between the Bonanno family in New York and its Montreal -based "outpost" established by the Mafia Commission in 1931. The cast of characters further includes high-ranking Mafiosi such as Joseph Massino (The Last Don), Salvatore "Sal the Iron Worker" Montagna, Vito Rizzuto, Vinny Gorgeous (a nickname never used in his presence) and Cicale himself.

Thursday, September 04, 2014

Antonio Accurso admits to inquiry that Rizzuto crime family were ‘minor’ contacts

Antonio Accurso, the construction magnate at the centre of corruption and collusion allegations in Quebec, acknowledged Wednesday two members of the Rizzuto crime family were among the contacts he amassed over his decades in business.

Questioned at the Charbonneau commission into corruption in Quebec’s construction industry, Mr. Accurso identified Mafia boss Vito Rizzuto and his son Nick Rizzuto Jr. as having been “minor contacts” in his vast network. “A minor contact is someone I can run into from time to time, someone I know his name,” he said.

Commission lawyer Sonia LeBel did not explore Mr. Accurso’s relationship with the Rizzutos, but previous witnesses have said Mr. Accurso did more than simply bump into Vito Rizzuto.

Investigator Eric Vecchio testified in March Mr. Accurso had a breakfast meeting with Mr. Rizzuto in 2003 to discuss the possible involvement of one of Mr. Accurso’s firms in a Montreal real-estate project.

Rival businessman Lino Zambito testified in 2012 he was surprised to find Mr. Rizzuto waiting after he had been convened to a meeting with Mr. Accurso to discuss a construction contract the two were interested in landing.

Mr. Zambito said Mr. Rizzuto acted as a mediator, advising Mr. Zambito the project might be too ambitious for his young company. He said Mr. Rizzuto told him, “Try to find a solution with [Mr. Accurso], so that this time it’s him and the next time it will be you.”

Vito Rizzuto died last December of cancer after serving a U.S. prison term for his involvement in three 1981 murders, while Nick Jr. was shot dead in Montreal in 2009.

Mr. Accurso, who is facing criminal charges, including fraud, breach of trust and corruption, has always strenuously denied any association with the Rizzuto family. In 2010, he accused Radio-Canada of falsely reporting he had attended the visitation for the younger Rizzuto.

“Falsely linking Mr. Accurso to the family thought to control the Mafia in Montreal and affirming that he wanted to pay final respects to one of this family’s members cases serious damage to Mr. Accurso’s reputation,” his lawyer said in a statement at the time.

Wednesday, Ms. LeBel was more interested in establishing Mr. Accurso’s close ties to leaders of the Quebec Federation of Labour.

He described former QFL president Louis Laberge as “a spiritual father” and former head of the QFL construction branch Jean Lavallée as the brother he never had. Two other former QFL presidents were friends, he added. But Mr. Accurso insisted he never got any favours from the union because of his personal ties to the leadership and he never meddled in internal union politics.

Commissioner Renaud Lachance challenged his claim his businesses never benefited from the connections he cultivated with union leaders. In 2010, when banks were refusing to lend Mr. Accurso money because his name had become linked to collusion schemes in Montreal, an electricians’ union headed by Mr. Lavallée agreed to lend one of Mr. Accurso’s firms $5-million.

“You don’t think that your excellent relationship with Mr Lavallée might explain why a union local loans money to a businessman who is in trouble?” Mr. Lachance asked. “Do you know a lot of union locals that lend money to businessmen?”

After a long pause, Mr. Accurso acknowledged he did not.

Thanks to Graeme Hamilton.

Monday, December 30, 2013

Reputed Mafia Boss of Canada, Vito Rizzuto, Dies at 67

Vito Rizzuto, the reputed Mafia boss of Canada, whose dapper outfits and ability to avoid prison led the authorities to call him the John Gotti of Montreal, died on Dec. 23 in Montreal. He was 67.
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Mr. Rizzuto died of natural causes, Maude Hébert-Chaput, a spokeswoman for Sacré-Coeur Hospital, told The Associated Press. There were widespread reports that he had been receiving treatment for lung cancer.

Working with the Bonanno crime family in New York, Mr. Rizzuto ran an international drug smuggling operation that imported heroin and cocaine and distributed it in the United States, Europe and the Middle East, the authorities said. His father ran the operation before him.

“Compared to what New York-based authorities were used to looking at, the breadth of geography and intertwining connections of the Rizzuto organization surprised even seasoned investigators,” Lee Lamothe and Adrian Humphreys wrote in the book “The Sixth Family: The Collapse of the New York Mafia and the Rise of Vito Rizzuto.”

In a 2004 column on his website, then called This Week in Gang Land, Jerry Capeci, an expert on the Mafia, compared Mr. Rizzuto to Mr. Gotti, the longtime head of the Gambino crime family in New York, who died in 2002.

“Like Gotti in his heyday, Rizzuto is known as a flashy dresser who was tough to convict,” Mr. Capeci wrote. “He beat two major drug smuggling cases between 1987 and 1990 and his only jail time was a two-year bit for arson in 1972. As a result, he has often been compared to the Dapper Don by the Montreal press, and police.”

But Mr. Rizzuto’s luck ran out in 2004, when he was arrested in Montreal on racketeering charges related to a gangland shooting in Brooklyn that inspired a bloody scene in the 1997 film “Donnie Brasco,” starring Al Pacino and Johnny Depp.

In the shooting, on May 5, 1981, Mr. Rizzuto and three other men burst from the closet of a Brooklyn social club and shot three Bonanno captains who had been challenging the family’s leadership, the authorities said. The shooters wore ski masks to make the killing look like a robbery, but the authorities said it had been ordered by Joseph Massino, then a senior Bonanno captain.

Mr. Rizzuto was extradited to the United States in 2006. He pleaded guilty in 2007 and was sent to prison in Florence, Colo.

While he was in prison, organized crime in Montreal fell into chaos and many of his relatives were murdered. His father was killed by a sniper while standing in his kitchen, and his eldest son, Nicolo, was shot and killed. His brother-in-law disappeared, the keys still in the ignition of his Infiniti.

Before his death, Mr. Rizzuto had been working to reclaim control of the mob and exact revenge, experts said. Since his return to Canada in 2012, there have been nine mob-connected murders there, Mr. Capeci said on his website.

“Vito Rizzuto gets out, and this immediately happens,” Pierre de Champlain, a former Royal Canadian Mounted Police intelligence analyst and author of a book about the Mafia, told The Globe and Mail after one such killing in 2012. “If it’s a coincidence, it would be a very strange one.”

Victor Rizzuto was born in the village of Cattolica Eraclea in Sicily on Feb. 21, 1946. His family moved to Canada in the mid-1950s, and Mr. Rizzuto married Giovanna Cammalleri in 1966. Survivors include his wife; a sister, Maria Renda; and two children, Leonardo and Bettina, both lawyers.

Despite the spate of killings after he left prison, Mr. Rizzuto once had a reputation as a peacemaker in mob circles.

Mr. Lamothe credited him with “bringing calm to an underworld that at times was out of control” in the 1970s by, for example, arranging an end to a dispute between the Hells Angels and a rival motorcycle gang.

“Mr. Rizzuto’s management style was pretty unique, at least compared to American crime figures, who went to violence as an instant default,” Mr. Lamothe wrote in an email. “He was born into the Mafia and, from his father, inherited the ‘Sicilian view’: Better to share than to shoot.”

Thanks to Daniel E. Slotnik.

Saturday, January 02, 2010

Mafia Boss Vito Rizzuto's Son Laid to Rest After Being Gunned Down in Broad Daylight

The bells The body of NIck Rizzuto, the son of Reputed Mafia Godfather Vito Rizzuto, is carried from church at his funeral.of an Italian Renaissance-style church in Montreal chimed softly Saturday as pallbearers carried the gold coffin of the son of the reputed head of Canada's most powerful Mafia family.

There was a heavy police presence in the city's Little Italy neighborhood at the funeral service for Nick Rizzuto, the son of Montreal Mafia boss Vito Rizzuto.

Nick was standing next to a black Mercedes last Monday when a gunman approached and fired several shots in broad daylight, killing him. Witnesses said the victim crumpled into the fresh snow. Police have not yet arrested the unidentified gunman.

Most of the mourners at Notre-Dame-de-la Defense church remained tightlipped as they filed out of the church, refusing to speak to reporters assembled outside.

Family friend Ricardo Padulo recalled the younger Rizzuto as "a gentleman."

"This turnout shows respect," Padulo said. "In the eye of God he's a great person. It was a beautiful service."

Henri Padulo knew Rizzuto from around the neighborhood, and recalled meeting him in local restaurants.

"He was a very polite boy, he never harassed anybody," he said. "Sometimes these things happen. Unfortunately, that's life. It's a sad day. He was young, 42 years old."

Some bystanders said curiosity brought them there.

"It's tourism," said Jean Fournier. "I'm here to see what it's like, who these people are."
During the packed service, the priest, dressed in fuchsia robes, addressed the somber crowd in Italian.

One burly man angrily ushered journalists outside after they entered the church to watch the funeral.

Vito Rizzuto, who is serving a sentence in Colorado for racketeering related to three Mafia murders, was not seen at the funeral. The victim's grandfather and namesake Nicolo Rizzuto Sr. was there, wearing a dark cashmere coat and his trademark fedora.

Nicolo Rizzuto began his Mafia career in Canada as an associate of the Cotroni crime family that controlled much of Montreal's drug trade in the 1970s while answering to the Bonanno crime family of New York.

Adrian Humphreys and Lee Lamothe titled their book "The Sixth Family" after the Rizzuto clan, saying it rivals any of the five mob families in New York, which includes the Lucchese, Bonanno, Gambino, Colombo, and Genovese mob clans.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Vito Rizzuto, The Teflon Don, Seeks Attendance at Slain Son's Funeral

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

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Youngest Boss of Any of the Five New York Mafia Families to Be Deported to Canada

When Salvatore Montagna, named as the boss of one of the notorious five Mafia families of New York City, was given a choice of where he wished to be deported -- Canada, where he was born, or Italy, where he is a citizen -- he quickly made plans for a return to Montreal.

That decision now leaves Canadian officials scrambling with what to do about a man they know little about. He returns to Canada free of any legal obligation and faces no charges.

Nicknamed "Sal the Ironworker" because of his trade in metal work, Mr. Montagna made headlines in New York when he was named as the acting boss of the Bonanno crime family at the improbably young age of 35. Mr. Montagna's youth led the tabloids to dub him the "bambino boss."

In the United States, officials are not shy about what they think Mr. Montagna has been up to. "He is a made member of the La Cosa Nostra, more specifically the Bonanno Italian organized crime family. Montagna is accused of making violent threats against a U. S. attorney from the Eastern District of New York," said Brandon A. Montgomery, spokesman for U. S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

Mr. Montagna's New York lawyer, George Stavropoulos, said the allegations are "absolutely, categorically denied."

"He is not involved in the Mafia, he is not the boss of the Bonanno crime family or the acting boss of the Bonanno crime family. This is something that the FBI manufactured."

Mr. Stavropoulos said he was unaware of the threat allegation until told by the National Post. "If they had anything to prove what they are alleging they would be indicting him, not deporting him," he said.

Mr. Montagna was born on May 11, 1971, in Montreal, one of three sons born to Italian immigrants. When he was still an infant, the family moved to Sicily, and over the years shuttled back and forth. At the age of 15, Mr. Montagna moved with his family from Montreal to New York, driving through the Lacolle-Champlain border crossing.

Mr. Montagna followed in his father's footsteps, becoming an ironworker and starting his own company after high school. His company, Matrix Steel Co., of Brooklyn, has grown over 10 years into a multi-million dollar enterprise, according to Mr. Stavropoulos.

In New York, he married an American-born Italian woman and the couple has three daughters, all under the age of 10. His marriage also allowed him to become a legal permanent resident of the United States.

In 2001, just as he was thinking of applying for U. S. citizenship, he was subpoenaed to testify in a state gambling case. The prosecutor was unsatisfied with Mr. Montagna's testimony and charged him with criminal contempt.

On October 28, 2003, he pleaded guilty and was sentenced to five years probation. "He plead as opposed to putting up a fight. He thought that was the easy way out," said Mr. Stavropoulos.

It was a decision he regrets. The conviction ended his citizenship plans and last week came back to haunt him.

In 2006, the New York Daily News named him as the acting boss. Several grand juries had been convened; colleagues and metal work competitors were subpoenaed to testify. As many as 30 federal cars were assigned to monitor him, Mr. Stavropoulos said.

No charges came.

Despite the tough talk from officials, the media attention and the investigations -- even at a time when the Bonanno organization was hard hit by senior members becoming police informants, including the long-time boss -- no indictment was filed against Mr. Montagna.

Instead, last week U. S. immigration officials scooped him up and placed him in detention.

Based on his conviction for contempt, deemed a civil violation of the Immigration and Nationality Act, he faced an immigration hearing on Tuesday.

He agreed to be removed to Canada.

"He will remain in ICE custody until his actual departure from the United States to Canada," said Mr. Montgomery of ICE. "Montagna is relinquishing his permanent residency and will be inadmissible if he attempts to request a visa in Canada."

He will not be alone here when he arrives next week. While one brother remains in New York, Mr. Montagna has a brother in Montreal and his parents still frequent the city. "As soon as his children finish school, his wife fully intends to move to Canada to join him," said Mr. Stavropoulos.

"He feels confident coming to Canada. He loves Canada. He said he was happy to be coming to Canada." He will likely sell his home and business and start fresh if he cannot win a reprieve.

Montreal is a city that also has long ties to the Bonanno crime family.

Montreal's Mafia boss, Vito Rizzuto, is currently in a U. S. prison for a gangland murder on behalf of the Bonanno leadership; and several New York gangsters alleged to have associated with Mr. Montagna also have strong links to the city, including Patrick "Patty From the Bronx" DeFillipo and Baldassare "Baldo" Amato.

In 2006, the FBI secretly recorded a conversation between gangsters in which Michael Cassese said that Mr. Montagna is the family's acting boss, according to court documents. "There's nobody in between. That's it," the gangster said of Mr. Montagna's position.

The RCMP is aware of Mr. Montagna's impending trip, said Sergeant Marc LaPorte, but declined to comment on whether there will be any special attention paid to him.

Said Patrizia Giolti, spokeswoman for CBSA: "While I will not comment on the specifics of a case, I can tell you that any Canadian citizen has the right to enter Canada."

Mr. Stavropoulos said Canadians have nothing to fear. "He fully intends to lead a lawful life there and raise his young family."

Thanks to Adrian Humphreys

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Pizza Connection Mobsters Cooking New Dish?

Sicilian mobsters - with their infamous history of violence and drug trafficking across several continents - are re-emerging as major powers in the Big Apple, The Post has learned. And their ranks within New York's crime families are only expected to grow with the recent release of notorious "Pizza Connection" Mafiosi, including a convicted heroin trafficker once linked to "Mafia Cop" Louis Eppolito.

The hardened mobsters giving the feds the most agita include the heroin-trafficking Gambino brothers Rosario, John and Joseph, who were once the Sicilian mob's chieftains here. They had been cooling their heels in jail since the mid-1980s and 1990s, refusing to squeal in exchange for deals with the feds and reputedly waiting to reclaim their lucrative organized-crime slots.

Now they're free to get back in the game.

The Post has learned that the resurgence of the Sicilian-led mob has been so strong that the FBI and the Italian government have established a special "cooperative venture" that involves stationing U.S. agents in Rome and having cops from the Italian National Police working at FBI Headquarters in Washington.

The initiative - dubbed "The Pantheon Project" - guarantees that the FBI and its Italian counterparts share surveillance and intelligence on developing cases and track the connections between La Cosa Nostra in Sicily and the United States, officials said. "Despite convictions and crackdowns both here and in Sicily, the Sicilian mob is still part of the Mafia culture and have been reconstituting their power bases in the U.S. and abroad," a top Mafia expert said.

Given that the Sicilian Mafia's single greatest asset is its ability to move narcotics, federal agents believe that the jail-hardened Pizza Connection-era gangsters - who had been trafficking heroin through pizza parlors around the country - will likely return to the narcotics trade now that they're out. But they will be shifting their enterprises into moving huge amounts of marijuana.

Selling pot is just as lucrative as heroin, sources said, but the penalties are far less severe than the decades-long sentences meted out to the Gambino brothers and rising crime-family star Lorenzo Mannino, who once tried to get Frank Sinatra to help crooner Al Martino find work in Las Vegas - evoking images from the book and movie "The Godfather." Martino, incidentally, played Johnny Fontane, a character loosely based on Sinatra, in the movie.

"Mafia Cop" Eppolito, whose father and other relatives were mobsters, was related to Rosario Gambino, an old-world mob figure. In 1984, Eppolito was brought up on departmental charges for allegedly passing confidential NYPD files to Gambino, but beat the rap. He's now in jail for carrying out hits for other big mobsters.

The trio of Gambino brothers, all relatives of the crime syndicate's namesake, Carlo Gambino, have been freed. Joseph was deported back to his native Sicily.

"Do you think they have been rehabilitated by prison?" a federal official asked sarcastically. Federal officials suspect these Gambinos, as well others due for release soon, will return to doing what they know best. "Narcotics is something they understand, they have the network and, as importantly, they have the respect," the federal source said.

Numerous Sicilian gangsters and associates - many targeted recently by the FBI and federal prosecutors - not only trace their heritage to the lush mountains of towns like Borgetto and Castellammare Del Golfo, their fathers and close relatives are key "Godfather"-like figures running the Mafia in their native land.

For example, Sicilian brothers-in-law Vito Rappa and Francesco Nania are presently under federal indictment for paying $70,000 to bribe a U.S. immigration official to keep Nania from being deported. The case also snared Gambino crime-family members, including mob captain George DeCicco, 78.

According to federal court records, Rappa's father is the "official head of the Mafia based in the Borgetto region of Sicily."

Nania, a fugitive wanted for mob-related crimes in Italy, is the son of an "influential member of the Mafia based in Partinico, Sicily," a long-established mob stronghold in Italy, Brooklyn U.S. Attorney Roslynn Mauskopf's prosecutors wrote in a detention memo.

And then there is Vito Rizzuto - dubbed the John Gotti of Canada and a leading figure in the Bonanno crime family. The 70-year-old Rizzuto is related by marriage to the godfather of the agrarian town of Cattolica Eraclea, where Rizzuto was born.

Rizzuto accepted a 10-year, plea-bargained sentence last week for his role in the spectacular 1981 rubouts of Bonanno captains Alphonse "Sonny Red" Indelicato, Philip "Philly Lucky" Giaccone and Dominick "Big Trin" Trinchera. The slayings were a murderous trifecta immortalized in the movie "Donnie Brasco" and carried out to stem an internal coup.

Despite these indictments and convictions, law-enforcement sources say the Sicilians still hold sway over a string of key New York spots.

Dominic "Italian Dom" Cefalu is currently considered the reputed underboss of the Gambinos, the largest crime syndicate in the nation, sources say. Cefalu, 60, a convicted heroin trafficker, was "made" by John Gotti 17 years ago.

Thanks to Murray Weiss

Friday, May 04, 2007

Godfather of Montreal Pleads Guilty

Friends of ours: Vito "Godfather of Montreal" Rizzuto, Bonanno Crime Family, Dominick "Big Trin" Trinchera, Philip "Philly Lucky" Giaccone and Alphonse "Sonny Red" Indelicato, Joseph Massino

A Canadian mobster who helped rub out three reputed New York Mafia captains in 1981 pleaded guilty Friday to racketeering under a deal calling for him to serve just 10 years in prison.

Vito Rizzuto, dubbed the "Godfather of Montreal" by the Canadian press, entered his plea at a federal court in Brooklyn a day before the 26th anniversary of the social-club slayings.

It took some coaxing from the judge to get the 61-year-old to break his long silence about one of the more spectacular gangland hits of the 1980s.

Prosecutors said Rizzuto came to New York at the behest of the Bonanno crime family to help execute three captains in the clan suspected of plotting a coup.

The plea bargain required Rizzuto to admit his guilt and describe his role in the crime. But in court on Friday, Rizzuto hesitated to get specific, initially admitting only that he had engaged in racketeering.

U.S. District Judge Nicholas G. Garaufis demanded more detail. "Why should I accept a specific sentence when I don't know what he did?" Garaufis said. "Was he the driver? Was he one of the shooters?"

Rizzuto held a hushed conference with his attorney, then finally stood before the judge. "My job was to say, 'It's a hold up!' So everybody would stand still," Rizzuto said. He said his accomplices then opened fire, killing Dominick "Big Trin" Trinchera, Philip "Philly Lucky" Giaccone and Alphonse "Sonny Red" Indelicato.

That was enough, barely, for the judge, who accepted the deal and the 10-year term.

The sentence is a light one by today's standards, but prosecutors said their options were limited. Rizzuto was charged as part of a racketeering case, and under federal law at the time of the killing, faced a maximum of only 20 years if he went to trial and was found guilty.

The law has subsequently been changed to permit a life sentence, but the change does not apply to old crimes.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Greg D. Andres said the age of the case, which would have complicated the prosecution, made the light term acceptable.

Rizzuto was one of about 100 alleged Bonanno family members snared in an investigation that crippled the organization and ultimately led its boss, Joseph Massino, to plead guilty to orchestrating a series of murders, including the 1981 slayings.

Massino got life in prison. Children discovered Indelicato's body shortly after the killings. Investigators acting on a tip returned to the vacant lot in 2004 and dug up Giaccone and Trinchera.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Powerful Mafia Boss Seeking Plea Deal?

Friends of ours: Vito Rizzuto, Joseph "Big Joey" Massino, Salvatore "Good- Looking Sal" Vitale, Gerlando "George From Canada" Sciascia, Patrick "Patty From the Bronx" De Filippo

Vito Rizzuto, named as Canada's most powerful Mafia boss, has asked a New York City judge to delay his trial for three gangland slayings, fueling speculation he is negotiating a plea deal.

David Schoen, defending Mr. Rizzuto against racketeering charges in the United States, declined to discuss any plea negotiations but said one thing is clear: Mr. Rizzuto is not considering co-operating with the authorities, as many of his American co-accused have done. "The answer is absolutely unequivocally 'no,' " he told the National Post.

An earlier document from prosecutors said Mr. Rizzuto, 61, of Montreal, was negotiating a settlement as far back as October, 2006. "If there were plea negotiations going on in any case, notwithstanding what may be a different practice for some other lawyers, I could never conceive of discussing them publicly," Mr. Schoen said. When pressed, he added: "Any speculation about a plea deal, at this point, is misguided."

He and his co-counsel are planning a vigorous defence that is well funded and well planned, he said. "Mr. Rizzuto is very strong and holding up well under these conditions - although I must say he misses Canada and his family very much," Mr. Schoen said. "In my view, there is no need or valid reason whatsoever for Mr. Rizzuto to be incarcerated in a jail in Brooklyn, or anywhere. He is no risk of flight whatsoever and certainly no danger to anyone in any community."

Mr. Rizzuto was arrested in January, 2004, inside his Montreal mansion at the request of the U.S. government. He is accused of being a shooter in an ambush of three rival mobsters in Brooklyn in 1981 as part of an ongoing criminal enterprise. He has been imprisoned since. The charge carries a maximum penalty of a 20 years.

Mr. Rizzuto's desire to return to Canada could factor into any deal; he would likely ask to serve his sentence in Canada. If that were agreed to, it would see him released far sooner than if he served his prison term in America. Under international agreements on the transfer of prisoners, once back in Canada, inmates benefit from our more lenient release rules, including release after serving just two thirds of a sentence.

Mr. Rizzuto was the only Canadian among dozens of men ensnared by the Federal Bureau of Investigation in its assault on the Bonanno Mafia organization, one of the notorious and influential Five Families of New York.

Those indicted alongside him have not fared well. Almost all have pleaded guilty, been found guilty at trial or become government informants.

A cavalcade of Mafia turncoats are pointing fingers at former colleagues. The so-called "rats" include the former Bonanno Family boss, Joseph "Big Joey" Massino, and underboss, Salvatore "Good- Looking Sal" Vitale. Both are expected to be star witnesses against Mr. Rizzuto, should his case go to trial.

Vitale has already testified in other prosecutions, twice telling juries about Mr. Rizzuto's alleged crimes, but Massino has not yet been called to the stand. "I am not in the speculation business and I will leave such decisions to the government," Mr. Schoen said of whether he expects to see Massino testify against his client. "I certainly should hope we will be well prepared to deal with any witness."

Massino has been telling his secrets to the FBI for a year. Although the high-security debriefings are held in utmost secrecy, some of the information he provided was recently summarized in a note from prosecutors to a judge in another case. Some of it involves his contact with Canadian mob figures.

Massino said he ordered the murder of Gerlando "George From Canada" Sciascia, who was the Montreal Mafia's representative in New York and a close friend of Mr. Rizzuto's. He assigned the job to Patrick "Patty From the Bronx" De Filippo at Danny's Chinese Restaurant.

After the murder, Vitale, contacted Massino and spoke a prearranged code to signal the job was done: "I picked up the dolls for the babies."

Mr. Rizzuto continues to be a presence - through his name and photograph - in New York mob cases.

At the trial of De Filippo, which ended this month, the jury heard Vitale claim that Mr. Rizzuto started the shooting that killed the three mobsters.

"What was your role in that murder?" Vitale was asked by Greg Andres, the prosecutor. "Shooter," he answered.

"Were there other people assigned as shooters?" Mr. Andres asked.

"Vito Rizzuto; an old-timer from Canada, I never got his name; another individual from Canada named Emmanuel."

Vitale was shown a photograph and asked to identify it.

"That's Vito Rizzuto from Canada," he answered.

"Do you know where Vito lives?" Mr. Andres asked. "Montreal, Canada."

Later, Vitale again brought Mr. Rizzuto up.

"At the time of your arrest, was there a particular person who you considered the most powerful person in Canada, the person who you would deal with in Canada?" Vitale was asked.

"Vito Rizzuto," came the answer.

Pretrial motions in the case are expected to be ruled on in June.

Mr. Schoen estimates a trial would last nine weeks.

Thanks to Adrian Humphreys

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Canadian Teflon Don Moves Closer to US Court Date

Friends of ours: Vito Rizzuto, Bonanno Crime Family

The man alleged to be the don of the Canadian Mafia came a leap closer to an American courtroom yesterday after two Supreme Court of Canada rulings on extradition cases that mirror his own legal bid to stay in Canada.

Vito Rizzuto, the so-called Teflon Don from Montreal, allegedly participated in the 1981 slayings of three New York mob captains who were plotting an underworld coup. He has been fighting extradition since his arrest in January, 2004.

The legal arguments in his case are similar to those in two others that were rejected yesterday by Canada's highest court. One involved Brantford, Ont., resident Shane Tyrone Ferras, who is wanted in the United States on fraud and money laundering charges. The other involved Canadian citizen Leroy Latty, a man wanted in the United States on drug-trafficking charges.

Both challenged the constitutionality of two sections of Canada's Extradition Act. In its decision, however, the court upheld rulings by the Ontario Court of Appeal and found that neither section of the Extradition Act infringed upon the appellants' rights and freedoms.

"It sort of tightens the noose around Vito's neck. It means that his options are narrowing and that he is a giant step closer to being sent to the United States, which is something that any accused criminal dreads," said Lee Lamothe, co-author of The Sixth Family: The Collapse of the New York Mafia and the Rise of Vito Rizzuto.

The Supreme Court is expected to rule by the fall on whether to send Mr. Rizzuto, 60, to the United States to stand trial on racketeering charges. His lawyers did not return calls yesterday.

Mr. Rizzuto was the only Canadian arrested in the 2004 sweep that netted 27 alleged members of the Bonanno Mafia family, one of the notorious Five Families of New York.

U.S. authorities allege that Mr. Rizzuto was one of the hit men in the 1981 slaying of three rogue members of the Bonanno organization who were plotting to overthrow the head of the family while he was in prison.

Antonio Nicaso, author of several books on the Canadian mob, said the arrest highlighted the Canadian Mafia's cross-border reach. "His arrest changed the perception of the so-called Canadian Mafia . . . it showed there was a strategy that was going beyond the border."

A police report filed in Mr. Rizzuto's extradition case alleges that the Montreal resident, who has a penchant for Ferraris, Porsches and trips to St. Kitts, is considered a godfather in Canadian mob circles.

The report's allegations -- which have not been proved in court -- suggest his activities in the decade before his arrest included loan-sharking at the Montreal Casino, laundering money in Switzerland and ordering a hit on a Venezuelan lawyer.

Mr. Rizzuto earned the nickname Teflon Don because until the 2004 arrest, the only charges he had faced were for relatively minor offences, including disturbing the peace and impaired driving.

The Rizzuto name has popped up in many major U.S. drug busts over the thirty years, Mr. Lamothe said. "For the Americans, he is the face of the Sicilian Mafia in Canada . . . who helped flood America in the seventies and eighties with heroin," he said. "The Americans want him."

Thanks to Hayley Mick

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