Updated news on the Gambino, Genovese, Bonanno, Lucchese and Colombo Organized Crime Families of New York City.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Nicolo Rizzuto was able to adapt to Mafia's new role in trafficking: author

There were two sides to Nicolo Rizzuto.
On one hand was the approachable man, at least among his associates, who knew he could solve people's problems by merely letting them drop his name. On the other, was a tough man with little patience, especially in matters he felt would cost him money.
His "charming, but tough" approach, as one organized-crime expert described it, is what helped the Mob boss -shot dead at 86 in his home Wednesday -bring his organization to the point where it reigned over Montreal's underworld for three decades.
Rizzuto learned his way of doing business while providing protection on farmland in his native Sicily, from 1945 until he left for Canada with his family in 1954, said Antonio Nicaso, author of several books on the Mafia.
"He was really the last Godfather. He belonged to a generation of bosses raised around the 'latifondo', a large (agricultural) estate system in Sicily. He was a 'campiere' (like a special security guard). A farmer would pay him for the right to work the land and landlords would pay him to protect the land," Nicaso said.
"What made him special is that he combined tradition and innovation. He was raised in the large estate system in rural Siciliy, but he was also able to enter into the new dynamics of the Mafia, like drug trafficking. He was able to combine the New World and the Old World. That's what made him special. There were no other people around with that kind of background, combining the latifondo with the world of drug trafficking. He's probably the last one with that kind of background."
In his travels to Sicily, Nicaso said that he has gathered anecdotes from many people who grew up with Rizzuto. They would tell him stories of a man who handed out cigarettes to farmers while insisting that protection money be paid on time.
"He was charming and tough at the same time. That was an attitude he developed while he was a campiere, when he had to be good with the farmers, but also tough," Nicaso said. "Tough and charming -that's the two aspects to describe this man."
Rizzuto was on probation when he was killed. He was sentenced, in October 2008, to three years' probation on top of the time he served behind bars after his arrest in November 2006 in Project Colisee, a wide-ranging investigation that targeted the Mafia and its associates in Montreal. He pleaded guilty to being in possession of the proceeds of crime, money generated by his organization's crimes, and a related gangsterism charge.
The most interesting feature of Colisee was that the Combined Forces Special Enforcement Unit managed to secretly install microphones and video cameras to record the inner sanctum of Rizzuto's organization, the now-defunct Consenza Social Club in St. Leonard.
Of the many recordings made during Colisee, none reflected the two sides of Rizzuto better than those made in April 2006. Rizzuto and Francesco Arcadi -a man chosen to succeed Rizzuto's son Vito as the head of the Mafia after the latter was arrested in a U.S. racketeering case -held meetings that month with others concerning a civil lawsuit. A printing company based in the West Island was suing a competitor, whose owners were related to Rizzuto, for stealing their clients after hiring one of its best salesmen.
Nicolo Rizzuto was advised that, because of a provincial law, his relatives would probably lose the lawsuit.
"There is only one thing that can be done to this one, and that is to give him a beating and see if he calms down," Rizzuto initially proposed as a way of dealing with the person suing his relatives.
But during a later meeting, Rizzuto -often referred to as Zio Cola or "the old man" by his associates -appeared to have calmed down. He proposed an approach that characterized how his organization normally operated when it came to solving conflicts.



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