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Saturday, July 8, 2017

Authorities look to guest list at mobster's wedding for clues about his murder

The guest list of gangland figures attending Hamilton mobster Angelo Musitano’s 2012 wedding casts doubt on a prevailing theory of why he was killed and why his brother’s house was sprayed with bullets.

Invited to Musitano’s wedding — held five years to the day before his funeral — were criminals widely thought to be his enemies and few popularly seen as his allies.

Musitano was shot in his pickup truck in the driveway of his house in Hamilton’s suburb of Waterdown on May 2. On June 27, the Hamilton home of his older brother, Pasquale “Pat” Musitano, was repeated shot at with bullets, piercing windows but not injuring anyone. Pat Musitano is the reputed head of the Musitano crime family, a position inherited after the death of his father.

Both attacks remain unsolved.

An appealing theory quickly emerged based on an important distinction in traditional Italian Mafia groups between mobsters with roots in the Calabria region and those with roots in Sicily.
Pat Musitano

The two areas, though geographically close, spawned their own organized crime structure: the Sicilian crime families of Cosa Nostra and the Calabrian crime families of the ’Ndrangheta. Both organizations spread to Canada and other countries to become global crime superpowers. Members have variously cooperated and competed but typically remain distrustful, even disdainful, of the other.

The Sicilian/Calabrian distinction has been one of the major drivers of Canada’s mob history.

In the 1990s when Vito Rizzuto, the Sicilian Mafia boss from Montreal, expanded into Ontario, a stronghold for Calabrian mob clans, it was surprising to hear an important ally was the Musitano crime family, originally from Calabria but based in Hamilton.

Rizzuto’s expansion was boosted by the 1997 murder of veteran Ontario Mafia boss John Papalia, of Hamilton, known as “Johnny Pops” or “The Enforcer.” The hitman who shot Papalia testified he did it at the request of the Musitano family.

The Rizzuto family’s power did not hold. Vito Rizzuto was imprisoned in the United States in 2006 and his youngest son, father, and brother-in-law were killed. Rizzuto himself died of natural causes in 2013, and his clan’s power waned.

The attacks on the Musitanos brought that history to the forefront.

Angelo Musitano’s slaying happened 20 years to the month after Papalia was killed. The timing sparked a theory that, with the protection from Rizzuto’s Sicilian organization evaporating, Calabrian traditionalists in Ontario are taking cold revenge. And it could be that.

However, the gangland guests seen enjoying the hospitality at Musitano’s wedding were thick with Calabrian traditionalists and allies of the Papalia organization.

According to a government intelligence report compiling police information on Mafia activity in the Toronto area, written in 2014 and obtained by the National Post, police were secretly watching Musitano’s Hamilton wedding.

Among the family, friends, neighbours and business associates of the close-knit family were several Mafia figures, the report says — most of them with ties to the ’Ndrangheta clans of Toronto and Calabrian mobsters.

According to the report, guests included:

• Cosimo Commisso, a long-alleged senior Mafia boss and influential figure within the ’Ndrangheta in Toronto. Commisso has a serious but dated criminal record, including conspiring to murder two Sicilian mobsters in Toronto;

• Domenic Violi, whose father was Paolo Violi, who was the powerful Calabrian boss of Montreal’s Mafia until he was murdered in 1978 by members of the Rizzuto crime family who then seized control of Montreal’s underworld;

• Domenico Figliomeni, son-in-law of Vincenzo “Jimmy” DeMaria, an powerful criminal from Calabria frequently named as one of Toronto’s most influential ’Ndrangheta bosses. The report says Figliomeni often acts as an “intermediary” for DeMaria, attending meetings on his behalf because parole conditions preclude DeMaria from associating with people involved in crime. (DeMaria is on lifetime parole for a 1981 murder over an unpaid debt.)

• Natale Luppino, a son of Giacomo Luppino, the grand old Mafia don from Calabria who settled in Hamilton and ran a powerful crime family. Papalia was closely aligned with the Luppinos;

• Two other members of the Violi and Luppino families.

Some of these men, or other members of organizations they have been linked with, are among those seen as most infringed or aggrieved by the Rizzutos’ incursion into Ontario or the attack on Papalia and the old underworld order.

Not on the partial wedding guest list are prominent mobsters aligned with the Sicilian faction or the Rizzutos — with one exception.

Seen by police at the wedding, the report says, was Giuseppe “Big Joe” Cuntrera, named as a leading member of the Caruana-Cuntrera clan, a significant Sicilian Mafia group allied with the Rizzutos. Cuntrera, based in Toronto, has had close business ties with senior Calabrian gangsters, authorities say.

Some of those at the wedding have had troubles of their own that are eerily similar to the Musitanos’ problems.

A Toronto-area bakery that Cuntrera frequently hung out in was recently firebombed and his house, like Pat Musitano’s, was recently peppered with bullets, according to a source.

Another wedding attendee was Antonio Sergi, a Toronto gangster known as “Tony Large.” Sergi was a big player in the medical marijuana business, including a controversial urban pot farm in Hamilton, until April when he, like Angelo Musitano, was shot dead in his driveway.

In the underworld, analyzing the meaning behind social patterns is fraught with difficulty, however. Underworld feuds and relationships are notoriously complicated.

“These guys will be doing business with someone this week and then kill them the next,” said a source with close knowledge of the underworld. “It’s crazy.”



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