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

Thursday, October 27, 2011

The ultimate collapse of the Rizzuto crime family

Co-author André Noël plots the victories, setbacks and ultimate collapse of the Rizzuto crime dynasty in his best-selling book Mafia Inc. Count André Noël among those likely relieved at Jean Charest’s reversal last weekend. After years of delay, the Premier finally announced a public inquiry into the scandal-ridden, Mafia-soaked construction industry—only to have his announcement mocked by even casual observers as laughably toothless. He retreated last Sunday, saying the commission would have full powers of sub­poena and others if requested.
Noël, co-author with fellow veteran La Presse reporter André Cédilot of Mafia Inc., knows how powerful a fully independent commission can be.
“The CECO Commission (the Commission d’enquête sur le crime organisé, held in the mid-1970s) had a huge impact,” he says. “A lot of information was published. It was a big blow against the Mafia and precipitated the fall of [fellow Montreal Mob bosses] Vic Cotroni and Paolo Violi.”
With the Montreal mob’s influence soon to be in the news, a good place for anyone to start boning up would be Mafia Inc. Last year, the French-language version shot to the top of the Quebec best-seller list. Now available in English with a new epilogue, it provides an inside look at the Montreal Mafia’s power, influence and dysfunction.
It’s the last point that will be new to many readers. After all, this is a city whose connection to New York’s Bonanno family stretches back decades. But with the 2004 arrest of Vito Rizzuto on murder charges (movie-fied in Donnie Brasco) and subsequent deportation to the U.S., and the murders of those closest to him, including his father, brother-in-law and son, the Rizzuto era in Montreal appears to be over. (Indeed, last Monday evening, suspected Rizzuto family associate Lorenzo Lopresti was gunned down at his Ville St-Laurent condo.) Which is not to say the Mafia is down and out.
N1 rizutto1 How the mob became a mess
- MAKE WAY FOR THE SICILIANS: Paolo Violi, Jan. 22, 1978 -
FAMILY FEUDS “The Italian Mafia is still in control” of Montreal crime, says Noël. “But it is divided, not unified.”
According to the authors, there are four key players vying for ultimate power now that the Rizzutos are out of the way. One is Salvatore “Sal the Iron Worker” Montagna, the 40-year-old Montreal-born act­ing boss of the Bonanno family, who was deported back to Canada from New York in 2009. Another is Raynald Desjardins, a long-time associate of Vito Rizzuto’s and convicted cocaine smuggler—and who sur­vived an assassination attempt last month.
But without Rizzuto at the helm, says Noël, the various factions are likely to descend further into internecine conflict. He shares that belief with none other than Vito Rizzuto himself, who claimed to be the only one able to keep the peace in a volatile environment. Dapper, circumspect and smart enough to keep his hands clean, Rizzuto was probably the most able mob boss the city has ever seen.
“He was a real leader,” says Noël. “He keeps his cool, is respectful, thinks before he acts. He was a better leader than Paolo Violi, who was much more impulsive.” Violi was murdered by a shotgun blast to the head in 1978, clearing the way for the Sicilian faction, led by Vito’s father Nicolò.
Besides the heroin, cocaine and hashish they smuggled, Mafia Inc. describes the mob’s close relationship with the construction industry, with video lottery terminal distributors, with car dealerships, with politicians at all levels of government and any number of restaurant, real estate and other seemingly legitimate businesses. The scope of organized crime’s influence in so many sectors of the economy is flabbergasting, as is the array of vowel-heavy names that pop up in the book. “People shouldn’t try to remember all the names,” he says. The amount of details included was to give the readers a chance to understand in broad strokes the Mafia’s reach.
Noël has a fairly simple answer to why the Mafia’s influence is so strong in Montreal: this is where the Mafia is. It’s been here since the 1930s, when Charlie “Lucky” Luciano’s Commission of Five Families (for the record: Bonanno, Colombo, Gambino, Genovese, Lucchese) awarded Montreal to the Bonannos. “Rizzuto always said he was a Bonanno soldier, that he killed under orders from the Bonannos,” says Noël.
“The Mafia is very involved in every city in North America,” he says. The construction industry is the easiest way in because “it’s very easy to use cash. Workers want to be paid in cash, suppliers want customers to pay in cash to avoid sales tax and drug traffickers are looking to launder money.”
Writing about the mob always brings its own risks, but Noël says that he was only intimidated by goons once. “I’m more afraid of the street gangs or the Hells Angels,” he says. “[Mafia] people are bright. They know reporters are doing their job, and if they do their job correctly, they’ll respect that. Respect is a very important value for them.”



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