Nicolo Rizzuto (February 18, 1924 – November 10, 2010), also known as Nick Rizzuto, was the crime boss of the Sicilian faction of the Italian Mafia in Montreal who later pushed out the Calabrian Cotroni family. Rizzuto was born in Cattolica Eraclea, Sicily, in 1924, and immigrated to Canada in 1954 when the family settled in Montreal. Nick's son Vito Rizzuto is allegedly the godfather of the Sicilian Mafia in Canada.
Early life Edit
Rizzuto was born in Sicily in the town of Cattolica Eraclea. In 1925, his father Vito left for the United States of America with his brother-in-law Calogero Renda and 4 others. Vito's wife stayed with Nicolo in Sicily. In 1933, Vito was murdered in New York by rival gangsters forcing Nicolo to grow up with a stepfather. Nicolo married a girl named Libertina Manno, during the early 1940s, the daughter of a local Mafia leader. In 1954, Nicolo took his new family and settled in Montreal, Canada. He was able to form his own crew with help from several other Sicilian relatives and associates living there.
Rizzuto had ties to organized crime in Canada, the United States, Venezuela and Italy. He 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. He was, however, more closely linked to the Sicilian Mafia, in particular the Cuntrera-Caruana Mafia clan, who came from the same region in the province of Agrigento.
Mob war Edit
Rizzuto did not care much about the formal and ceremonial command lines in the Cotroni family, who were of Calabrian origin. Violi complained about the independent modus operandi of his Sicilian 'underlings', Nick Rizzuto in particular. "He is going from one side to the other, here and there, and he says nothing to nobody, he is doing business and nobody knows anything," Violi said about Rizzuto. Violi asked for more 'soldiers' from his Bonanno bosses, clearly preparing for war, and Violi's boss at the time, Vincent Cotroni remarked: "After all, I am 'capo decina', I have the right to expel him."
By the 1980s, the Rizzutos emerged as the city's pre-eminent Mafia crew after a turf war between the Montreal family's Sicilian and Calabrian factions. Rizzuto allegedly participated in the murder in 1978 of Paolo Violi, a Bonanno soldier who had been named acting boss of Montreal's family. He allegedly replaced the late Vic Cotroni as the clearinghouse for Corsican heroin entering Canada and the United States.
Legal problems Edit
Rizzuto was arrested on November 23, 2006. Before the arrest, Rizzuto appeared to be immune to police investigations in Canada. But he did serve five years in prison in Venezuela between 1988 and 1993 after being convicted of cocaine possession. An undercover Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) officer was later informed that Rizzuto was paroled early after an associate of the family delivered an CND$800,000 bribe to Venezuelan officials. October 16, 2008 Rizzuto was released from prison.
On February 11, 2010, Nicolo Rizzuto entered a guilty plea to tax evasion charges. The charges stem from a Canada Revenue Agency investigation for the tax years 1994 and 1995. Nicolo Rizzuto was accused of failing to declare the interest earned on more than 5 million dollars deposited in three Swiss bank accounts. The Court ordered Rizzuto that in addition to almost $628,000 in taxes owed, Rizzuto pay a $209,000 fine plus and administrative penalties.
On November 10, 2010, Rizzuto was killed at his residence in the Cartierville borough of Montreal when a single bullet from a sniper's rifle punched through two layers of glass in the rear patio doors of his Montreal mansion. His death was believed to be the final blow against the Rizzuto crime family until his son Vito was released from prison in 2012 and has allegedly began to exact revenge on the dissident faction withing the Montreal mob. The mob war for control of the Rizzuto crime family still continues.
Rizzuto had two grandsons by his son Vito and his wife Giovanna Cammalleri, Leonardo Rizzuto and Nick Rizzuto Jr.. On December 28, 2009, Nick Rizzuto Jr. was shot and killed near his car in Notre-Dame-de-Grâce, a borough in Montreal. Paolo Renda, Nicolo's son in law, disappeared on May 20, 2010, and is presumed to have been kidnapped and killed. A month later Agostino Cuntrera, who is believed to have taken control of the family, was killed together with his bodyguard on June 30, 2010.