Mackenzie, Mogul: Civil War Pirate – During the American Civil War, Mackenzie commanded the ship Kanawha off Canada’s east coast, preying on Union ships. His reputation was that of a sadist who needed little reason to torture captives.
In 1865, when the Civil War was over, merchant seamen on the Atlantic coast reported that they were being harassed by a lean grey pirate ship that sounded suspiciously like the Kanawha . Their complaints sounded like something from the “Golden Age” of piracy from more than a century and a half earlier, before the British navy crushed piracy everywhere but in the Indian Ocean and the China Sea.
In May 1865, an American gunboat off the coast of Nova Scotia spotted a ship resembling the Kanawha and tried to overtake it, but the mysterious boat slipped through treacherous waters toward Sable Island.
Soon afterwards, another ship resembling the Kanawha tried to overtake a Nova Scotia schooner off Campobello, New Brunswick, but the schooner’s pilot, a skilful sailor, fled to safety.
A few days after that, a whaler reported finding the trading vessel St. Clare abandoned in the Bay of Fundy, its sails still raised. There was no sign of her crew, but a small boat was tied to her planking with the name Kanawha on its side. The crew was feared captured or thrown overboard.
As the fate of the crew of the St. Clare was contemplated, a trading vessel from Boston arrived in Yarmouth, reporting a sighting of the Kanawha in the direction of Saint John, New Brunswick. The British warship H.H.S . Buzzard set off in pursuit, but lost sight of it near High Island. No trace of the Kanawha was ever found, although a naked sailor was found near death on the shore about fifty kilometres north of Yarmouth, his tongue cut out. The suspicion was that he had met up with Mackenzie, and had been tossed overboard.
See also: Charles Bellamy, Eric Cobham, Cupids, Peter Easton, High Island, Edward Jordan, Captain Kidd, Henry Mainwaring, Sheila Na Geira, John Phillips, Gilbert Pike, Pirates, Bartholomew “Black Bart” Roberts .
Magaddino, Stefano: Criminal Undertaking – Religious candles flickered in front of tabletop statues of saints when a judge visited Magaddino in the bedroom of his home in December 1968 to arraign him on tax charges.
Two pillows propped up Magaddino’s head, as the seventy-seven-year-old, looking feeble and benign in his lime-green pajamas, drew oxygen from a tank at the foot of his bed. Two doctors stood watch at his bedside, ready to rush to his aid if his condition took a sudden turn for the worse.
The judge had to travel to Magaddino’s bedroom because his lawyers said he was too ill to go to court himself. That day, FBI agents found a large safe in the basement of his home on exclusive Dana Drive in Lewiston, New York, but when they opened it up, it was empty.
By the time the FBI agents made their bedroom visit, Magaddino had run his organization in the Niagara Falls–Buffalo area for a half-century. The organization was known on the streets of Buffalo as the Arm, and he was alternately referred to as The Old Boss, The Old Man, and Don Stefano.
His “Arm” had a firm grip that reached into Canada, although The Old Man never lived north of the forty-ninth parallel. Born October 10, 1891, in Castellammare, Sicily, he lived on the eastern seaboard of the United States briefly before moving to upper New York State, building his home adjacent to the equally luxurious home of his daughter and son-in-law.
According to the U.S. McClellan Committee on organized crime, his empire in Canada was said to include the organizations of John Papalia and of the Agueci and Volpe brothers.
The Old Man was certainly familiar to law-enforcement officials. His contact with police had dated back to at least August 16, 1921, when he was arrested regarding a homicide in Avon, New Jersey.
The visit by the FBI and the judge came a decade after a 1957 meeting of North America’s top crime lords in the Appalachians, near Binghamton, New York. Magaddino was one of a handful of men who founded the Mafia’s high commission, a group of twelve mobsters who met periodically to settle disputes, determine what crimes were allowed, and what families would control them.
Magaddino was a commissioner with this top rung of Mafia lords because of the strength of his “Arm,” which reached into Niagara Falls, Buffalo, Ontario, and parts of Ohio and Pennsylvania. He managed to elude state police in their raid at the Appalachian conference, although his clothes were found at the meeting site.
As legitimate sidelines, when not running drugs, gambling, or construction rackets, The Old Man ran the Magaddino Memorial Chapel Funeral Home, the Power City Distributing Co. of Niagara Falls, and Camellia Linen Supply Co. of Buffalo, New York. He was said to have pioneered the double-decker casket, with a paying customer on the top, and the corpse of a murder victim secreted underneath.
The Magaddino Memorial Chapel Funeral Home on Niagara Street in Niagara Falls, New York, was the business front for Magaddino’s criminal empire. When federal authorities illegally bugged the chapel in the early 1960s, they overheard that The Old Man’s cut from gambling in an old Buffalo firehall on Seneca Street was $25,000 a week.
The bugs prompted police to recover $38,000 in alleged bookmaking profits at the chapel, but once it came out that the wiretaps were conducted illegally, all charges against Magaddino and his associates were dropped.
He was intensely suspicious – perhaps rightly so – of his New York City cousin Joe Bonanno. After Bonanno applied for Canadian citizenship in 1963, Magaddino complained that he was doing this to cut in on his northern turf. “He’s planting flags all over the world,” Magaddino protested.
The Old Man was capable of enormous cruelty, as in the torture/murder of Alberto Agueci of Scarborough, Ontario, after Agueci threatened to become an informer. However, many considered him a soft-spoken gentleman, well-schooled in the ways of the Old World. He certainly was a smiling presence at his annual fall meetings at the now-demolished Andy’s Café on Lower Terrace Street in Buffalo. As many as fifty men, members of the inner sanctum, shed their Borsalino hats and camel-hair coats to sit at four long tables, arranged in a square in Andy’s backroom. “He wasn’t loud or boisterous like a lot of others,” one restaurant employee told the Buffalo News . “He was like Santa Claus. He smiled with his eyes.”
While The Old Man avoided jail after the 1968 bedside visit, his power was clearly slipping. More than $500,000 in musty bills – in denominations from $1 to $1,000 – had been discovered in an attic trunk belonging to his son, Peter, and the discovery marked the beginning of a downward slide for the Buffalo Mafia.
At the time the bills were discovered, The Old Man had been complaining to his underlings that he was too poor to give them their share of the proceeds from their criminal enterprises. Understandably, news of his secret money cache stirred dissention in the ranks.
By the time of his death in 1974, The Old Man was out of power, but by Mob terms his life was a success, as he died in bed, without ever going to trial. None of his successors in the Buffalo Mob merited a seat on the Mafia’s national high commission, as none of them were considered strong enough.
See also: Alberto Agueci, Joe Bonanno, Ron Fino, Giacomo Luppino, John “Johnny Pops” Papalia, Paolo Violi, Paul Volpe .
Magnussen, Donald: Angels’ Muscle – He didn’t live to see the Hells Angels officially set up quarters in Manitoba in July 21, 2000, but he played a significant role bringing les hells into the Keystone Province.
Magnussen, who was originally from Thunder Bay, was a bodyguard for the Angels national president, Walter Stadnick, in the early and mid-1990s, back when Stadnick was helping the gang expand across the prairies.
It was clearly a violent job. Magnussen was shot in the legs outside the Windsor Park Inn in Winnipeg about 2 : 30 a.m. on December 15, 1993, while waiting for a cab. Someone in a pickup truck belonging to a member of the Los Brovos motorcycle club squeezed off between ten and fifteen shots from a weapon believed to be a 9 mm semi-automatic handgun.
Only one of the bullets hit Magnussen, passing through both his legs as he ran to safety in the hotel. He refused to speak to police and discharged himself from St. Boniface General Hospital.
At the time, Magnussen was well known in Winnipeg as Stadnick’s muscle. Magnussen, Stadnick, and another man had been charged in August 1993 with the beating of two off-duty Winnipeg police officers, after the officers taunted the bikers and one climbed on one of their motorcycles. Charges for beating up the police were dropped by the Crown, after it was determined that police picked the fight.
Magnussen moved on to Quebec, where he became bodyguard for Scott Steinert, a flamboyant, high-ranking Montreal Hells Angel and would-be porn star. Police warned Magnussen two times in 1996 that they had heard of a murder plot by the Hells Angels to kill him, in hopes of turning him informer, but he refused police protection. On November 4, 1997, Steinert called on Magnussen to go with him to a meeting. The two men vanished and, at first, police believed that Steinert was hiding to escape deportation to his native United States.
Then, on May 23, 1998, Magnussen’s bound, decomposed body was pulled out of the St. Lawrence Seaway. Steinert’s body surfaced in the river about a year later. Both men had been beaten to death with a ballpeen hammer, wrapped in plastic, and dumped in the Angels’ unofficial burial ground, the seaway.
No one was explaining for outsiders exactly why the two were killed, although it’s believed to have been part of an internal gang purge. Magnussen had apparently killed someone close to the Angels, a Winnipeg biker at an Angels party in Halifax, in 1996, over a personal grudge, and Steinert was also punished for not stopping him. It didn’t help Magnussen’s value with the Angels that he had also beat the son of a Montreal Mafia boss, creating unnecessary tensions.
See also: Los Brovos, Redliners, Spartans, Wolodumyr “Walter” “Nurget” Stadnick, Scott Steinert .
Mainwaring, Henry: Golden Thesis – When Mainwaring sat down to write a thesis on piracy, the Oxford-educated scholar certainly had a wealth of research to draw upon.
He was one of the pirates who prowled the rocky shores of Newfoundland in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, when the island’s outports were a stopover point to and from the rich hunting grounds of the Spanish Main, now the Caribbean.
During his high-seas days, Mainwaring was commissioned by the British Crown to capture infamous pirate Peter Easton. However, when Mainwaring arrived in Newfoundland in the second decade of the seventeenth century, Easton had been tipped off by sources in the English court and had already sailed away.
Mainwaring’s high-born family had been involved in the War of the Roses, over rights to the English throne back in the fifteenth century, and had even better contacts in the English court than Easton. Despite his noble pedigree, it wasn’t long before Mainwaring turned pirate himself, moving into Easton’s abandoned fort at Harbour Grace and launching raids against Spanish, French, and Portuguese fleets.
Mainwaring made a king’s ransom in piracy, and then was offered a huge amount of gold by the king of Spain to quit piracy to sail for the Spanish. Mainwaring’s cocky reply? “I don’t need the help of the Spanish king to lay my hands on Spanish gold.”
Like Easton before him, he had his pick of the best of Newfoundland’s sailors, and had six aspirants for every spot on his pirate ships. While he was feared on the seas, his expeditions were a welcome escape from the slavelike conditions Newfoundland workers experienced in fishing “plantations.” Sailors were generally only too eager to flee that life to sail on his outlaw ships, despite the risk of being caught and hanged from a yardarm. For them, one successful raid meant more riches than a lifetime toiling in the fisheries. Stealing fish paid far better than processing them, as salt cod fetched a healthy return on the European black market.
Mainwaring eventually retired from his base in Newfoundland, with enough wealth to buy a pardon from King James I and return to England. He was knighted, made admiral of the British navy, and given the job of clearing the seas of piracy. He wasn’t yet thirty years old.
When he wrote his thesis on piracy, his most valuable suggestion was a typically audacious one: the king should stop selling pirates pardons like the one Mainwaring had just purchased. After that suggestion was followed, the “Golden Age” of piracy withered, as pirates were treated as a menace and not as soldiers of fortune worthy of negotiating with monarchs.
Mainwaring’s own personal fortune was also lost, since he exhausted his resources fighting for Charles I in the English Civil War, and he died in poverty in 1653.
See also: Charles Bellamy, Eric Cobham, Cupids, Peter Easton, High Island, Edward Jordan, Captain Kidd, Sheila Na Geira, John Phillips, Gilbert Pike, Pirates, Bartholomew “Black Bart” Roberts .
Manitoba Warriors: Test Case – Known on the street and in prison as the M-Dubs, some thirty-five Warriors and fifteen associates were tried in 2000 on a total of 142 charges, including drug trafficking, weapons possession, fraud, conspiracy, and prostitution in the first test of Canada’s new anti-gang legislation passed in 1997.
The case ended in a partial victory for the system, as the gang-related charges were eventually stayed against most of the accused in exchange for guilty pleas to drug charges in a complicated and often-unwieldy court case.
In May 2001, the Manitoba Court of Appeal rejected the defence argument that this was “systemic discrimination” because of the gang’s Aboriginal backgrounds, with Madam Justice Freda Steel writing on behalf of the majority, “While I agree this was a minor league gang whose major market was in inner-city hotels and dependent upon the distribution of welfare cheques, it was a methodically planned and ongoing business which distributed a large quantity of cocaine over time.”
The Warriors, who were older and more established than their rivals in the IP , or Indian Posse, rebuilt themselves under the arm of the Hells Angels. The Warriors were also clearly a force behind bars. On April 25, 1996, the members of the Warriors and the Posse were involved in an eighteen-hour riot that caused about $8-million damage to Manitoba’s Headingley Correctional Centre. Eight guards were injured, including four who had fingers chopped off, when inmates high on drugs broke into cell blocks housing sex offenders and informants.
See also: Darwin Sylvester, Kevin Sylvester, Robert Blaine Tews .
Masterless Men: Flight to Freedom – In the eighteenth century in Newfoundland, it was a crime punishable by flogging or even death for a worker simply to walk away from his fishing master or the British navy.
Some workers did so anyway, and soon became known as the Masterless Men. Masterless Men hid out in the Butter Pot Barrens, near where Butter Pot Provincial Park is today, which overlooks the town of Holyrood and waters of Conception Bay.
Their leader was Irish immigrant Peter Kerrivan, and they existed partly through plunder and partly through following herds of caribou. They traded surreptitiously with settlers in remote ports, swapping meat, hides, and furs for flour, molasses, and rum. When they couldn’t swing a good trade, they stole nets, cord, guns, and ammunition.
Their flight made them the first Europeans to live in Newfoundland’s interior. In order to shake off pursuit parties from the British navy, Kerrivan and his men built roads that led into bogs or heavy underbrush to confound search expeditions. There were at least three attempts by the navy to capture them, but Kerrivan was never taken. However, two of his men were scooped up and hanged in Ferryland around 1810.
The War of 1812 offered employment and opportunity to some of the Masterless Men, while others became settlers who were considered respectable. By 1820 they had disappeared, not through police action but through social change. Now, it was possible for a poor man without property to live independently without being bound to a fishing master or a ship’s captain for legitimacy.
Masterson, Bat: Limping Legend – The legendary Wild West lawman was born November 26, 1853, in St. Georges of Henryville parish, Iberville County, Quebec, and christened Bertolomiew. He was the second of seven children.
A popular story had it that he became known as “Bat” while an army scout in Sweetwater, Texas, after he was shot in the leg in a dancehall brawl. The shooter was killed, but Masterson was left with a limp, so he started using a cane. Years later, when he was a peace officer, the cane was useful as a club to use on recalcitrant cowboy heads.
In fact, Masterson was called “Bat” back in his Quebec days, long before he was limping, for Bat and Bart are accepted diminutive forms of Bertolomiew.
Not long after his birth, his family moved to New York, Illinois, and eventually Sedgwick County, Kansas, around 1871.
Masterson began his legal career as Wyatt Earp’s deputy in Dodge City, when cowboys off the trail, professional gamblers, and footloose killers offered a career challenge.
Masterson missed out on the famous gunfight at the O.K. Corral in the silver mining town of Tombstone, Arizona, on Wednesday, October 26, 1881, when three of Earp’s enemies were shot dead.
At that time, Masterson was in Dodge City, drawn by a frantic wired message from his brother Jim, who co-owned a saloon there. Jim Masterson told him that his partner in the saloon wanted to kill him. Masterson shot Jim’s business partner and one of his associates, but didn’t kill them. For this he was fined $8 for firing a pistol on a city street.
His final years were spent as a sportswriter on the New York Morning Telegraph , and he was a familiar figure at top boxing matches. He died at his desk on October 25, 1921, in New York at the age of sixty-seven.
See also: Dutch Henry, Sam Kelly, Outlaw Trail, Sundance Kid .
Matticks, Donald: Cooked Beef – The son of Gerald Matticks, a powerful figure in the West Montreal underworld, Donald Matticks was one of fifteen men arrested on December 4, 2002, for allegedly importing an estimated $2.1 billion in drugs through the Port of Montreal. In the December 2002 busts, police alleged that 44 tonnes of hashish and 265 kilograms of cocaine arrived at the port in containers, and was loaded onto trucks and diverted through insiders to a warehouse off port grounds.
Matticks worked on port grounds, an employee of a trade association known as the Maritime Employers Association, and his job was a strategic one, directing containers at the port.
The police operation was dubbed Projet Boeuf – a tip of the hat to Matticks’s nickname Boeuf, “Beef.” At the time of the arrests, Matticks was already behind bars after being arrested in a huge nationwide sweep against the Hells Angels in the spring of 2001, when police alleged drugs imported from 1999 to 2001 were worth some $2.1 billion. Police said that his West End Gang brought those drugs into the country for distribution to the Hells Angels. Matticks, out on bail, awaits his drug-trafficking trial slated for September 2004.
See also: Gerald “Big Gerry” Matticks, Richard Matticks .
Matticks, Gerald “Big Gerry”: Short Childhood – Born in 1940, he grew up in the predominantly Irish tenements of Goose Village in Montreal’s Point St. Charles district, the youngest of fourteen children. His father drove a horse and buggy for the city while his mother was kept busy with the family. A school dropout by age twelve, he was married at seventeen and a father of four by twenty-one.
The Matticks brothers – Gerry, John, Fred, Robert, and Richard – were identified by a 1970s organized-crime inquiry as leaders of a truck-hijacking-and-robbery ring run out of western Montreal. They gravitated to the notorious West End Gang run by Frank “Dunie” Ryan, made up of English-speaking thugs.
Gerry and John Matticks faced attempted-murder charges in 1971, when a man said they shot him because they thought he was telling port police about their dockyard crimes. Matticks was acquitted when three witnesses said he was in a bar at the time of the shooting. One of those people offering alibis was a former RCMP officer who became a member of the West End Gang.
Gerald “Big Gerry” Matticks
As his trucking firm, cattle farm, and beef-wholesaling company grew, he moved out of the Point and onto a sprawling farm in La Prairie, Quebec, with surveillance cameras mounted on its nine buildings.
Although Big Gerry left the old neighbourhood, he never forgot his roots when he made it big financially, and gained a reputation as a Robin Hood of sorts. Every Christmas, he drove a decorated flatbed truck along South Shore streets, with a Santa who handed out gifts for poorer children. He also at times dressed up a truck as a sleigh and threw out dollar bills. His mint-condition vintage cars were often used in St. Patrick’s Day parades and, during the 1998 ice storm, he gave out some two thousand free meals.
When Father Marc Mignault was overheard complaining one day about his presbytery’s leaking roof, Big Gerry took care of it, then refused to charge anything. “I asked Gerry for the bill three times,” Mignault told the court in 2002, when Matticks was facing drug-trafficking charges. “He said it was lost in the mail. He took care of it.”
“There is a little bit of devil and saint in all of us,” Mignault said of Matticks.
Often, when Matticks gave food to the poor, he said it was damaged by his trucking company, and would have been thrown out if someone didn’t take it. It wasn’t uncommon for him to drop by the church with enough frozen turkeys to fill an eighteen-foot freezer.
“Did he come to church every Sunday? No,” Mignault said. “Did he help out people? Yes. Did he practise his faith? Yes.”
However, law officials saw a different side of him. When Matticks and brother Richard were arrested in 1994 for allegedly trafficking 26.5 tonnes of hashish, a lawyer offered Crown attorney Madeleine Giauque the bribe of an all-expenses-paid southern vacation – and perhaps a new Cadillac too – if she allowed Matticks out on bail.
When Giauque refused, the lawyer began talking about cement blocks and sleeping bags – standard means for hiding murder victims in the St. Lawrence River. “You’ll never get out of this alive,” Giauque was told, but she still wouldn’t buckle.
Charges were dropped anyway, after police were found guilty of planting evidence.
Matticks was eventually sent to prison when his right-hand man, Elias Lekkas, turned police witness in 2001, prompting several South Shore bars to post photos of Lekkas with the words “Rat” or “Stool.”
“Gerry is very powerful,” testified Lekkas, a vitamin salesman who once sold stolen poultry for the gang. “He has contacts all over the place to eliminate anybody that he wants.”
After he was charged, about six hundred people signed a petition in Point St. Charles and the South Shore saying he wasn’t a threat to the community.
See also: Richard Matticks, Allan “The Weasel” Ross, Frank Peter “Dunie” Ryan, West End Gang .
Matticks, Richard: West End Gang – Gerald’s brother Richard was also a member of Montreal’s West End Gang. The gang added an Irish flavour to the city’s active underworld and had a near-mythic status in some of the city’s rougher areas. At the top level of the West End Gang was the Matticks family, known for its influence in the ports.
Along with his brother, Richard had a reputation for hijacking, drug-trafficking, and enormous influence at the Port of Montreal. Richard was sentenced to three years for trafficking cocaine on June 17, 1997, his third trip to prison since 1957. Richard’s soldiers, Frank Bonneville and Donald Waite, got four years and two years respectively while Giovanni Cazzetta, acting boss of the Rock Machine biker gang, was also pinched.
See also: Giovanni Cazzetta, Donald Matticks, Gerald Matticks, Allan “The Weasel” Ross, Frank Peter “Dunie” Ryan, West End Gang .
Melanson, Donald “Snorko”: Debt Up to His Nose – He was paranoid during the last few years of his life in the late 1980s. This may have partly been a chemical reaction to the large amounts of cocaine he put up his prominent nose. Also, however, it must have been a realization that he couldn’t afford to pay $900,000 for that inhaled cocaine – which the Hells Angels had fronted to him to sell, not snort.
Melanson, forty, was the president of the Vagabonds motorcycle gang on Gerrard Street East near Woodbine in east Toronto in the late 1980s, and he earned his nickname for his habit of snorkelling up ungodly long lines of cocaine.
“He used to make lines about two feet long,” his old friend and fellow Toronto cocaine trafficker Saul S. said. “What a big nose he had. He was like a vacuum cleaner.”
(Saul S. asked that his last name not be used. He now lives out of Toronto, under an assumed name after going into a witness-protection program to work with police against several high-level drug traffickers.)
On September 3, 1987, Snorko’s body was found in a room he had rented in the Novotel Hotel in Toronto on Yonge Street, north of Sheppard, with two bullets in his head.
The killing remained officially unsolved, but Saul had no doubt which of his former underworld contacts pulled the trigger. It had to be Hells Angels, who lured him to the room with the promise of another deal, Saul reasoned. “Who else would do it? He owed them a big chunk of money.”
Precisely because they feared this type of thing, the Vagabonds forbade their members from dealing with Hells Angels. The Vagabonds were the biggest, richest Ontario club that did not join Hells Angels during the mass conversion that began shortly after Christmas 2000.
Snorko knew the rule against dealing with the Angels well, but he also craved some of the planeloads of the narcotic they were getting from the Medellín cartel in Colombia.
So Snorko had got his old friend Saul to cut a deal with the Angels, and Saul then immediately passed on the cocaine to him. When Snorko scored the cocaine, his biker buddies didn’t ask a lot of questions about its source. “He used to give to everyone, but he didn’t remember who he gave it to. He used to give a kilo, half a kilo.”
There were a few meetings between the Angels, Snorko, and Saul in Toronto strip clubs and a posh restaurant. “They sent the top men from Montreal and the top men from Ontario,” Saul said.
The out-of-towners, especially the tall, skinny one who did most of the talking, didn’t look so rough. They looked more like businessmen, dressed Friday casual. Despite the difference in appearance, however, it was clear to Saul that rough-looking Snorko was the nervous one.
Snorko had remortgaged his house for $50,000 and Saul scraped together another $20,000, but it wasn’t nearly enough, and Saul sensed it was a good time for a holiday in Tampa. “I didn’t want to be in the middle of that mess.”
While in Florida, Saul read in a Toronto newspaper that Snorko’s body had been found by a cleaning woman at the hotel. Saul attended the funeral, which was the biggest in memory for bikers in Toronto, with some two hundred Harleys slowly cruising Steeles Avenue West from the St. Paschal Baylon Church. They came from as far away as Dallas, Edmonton, and Chicago and mourners wore the colours of the Lobos, American Breed, Penetrators, Scorpions, and Outlaws. No Hells Angels were to be seen.
Shortly afterwards, Saul became a police agent, working sting operations that netted dozens of traffickers in what was known as Project Amigo, Toronto’s biggest drug haul.
Saul remembered Snorko as a simple man, who loved his Harley-Davidson motorcycle and whose big dream was to some day own a plumbing firm. Saul wasn’t too impressed with Snorko’s old biker friends, who left Snorko high and dry when the time came to pay his debt.
“They all ripped him off. He was too generous.”
See also: Hells Angels .
Melo, Eddie “The Hurricane”: “Always Fighting” – Melo was getting just a little chubby as he passed his fortieth birthday, but he didn’t seem to mind. His personality seemed to be softening as well as his body. He bought new pews for St. Helen’s Church in Toronto’s Portuguese district, the same church where his preschool son, Eduardo, Jr., had been baptized. When Eduardo, Jr., was born, Melo told Eduardo’s mother, his second wife, Rhonda, “I can’t wait till he can love me back.” Now that four-year-old Eduardo, Jr., could show affection, Melo relished every second of family life, like taking the family to the Golden Griddle every Saturday morning so Eduardo, Jr., could get his beloved waffle fries.
Harold Arviv (left) with Eddie Melo (right)
Melo had spent all of his life trying to be tough, but now that he wasn’t so imposing, he seemed happier. However, with his past, it was difficult to age gracefully. “I wish I could be treated as a normal person,” he once complained. “I always seem to be in a mess, with someone challenging or provoking something. I’m afraid to go out. I hate to fight. It goes on everywhere I go.”
There was a time when Melo seemed to want nothing more than a tough image. He was a neighbourhood legend on the streets and in the gyms of Toronto’s west-end Ossington Avenue area. “I was always fighting,” Melo later said. “If I had a black eye, I didn’t put on dark glasses to hide it. If I got a little scratch and came home bleeding, my mother would go crazy. But the way I figured it, you can’t give pain to somebody else and not expect to get a little bruised yourself.”
A construction worker’s son and the eldest of five children, Melo quit school after Grade Nine and moved to Verdun, Quebec, where he turned pro in the boxing ring with a forged birth certificate. His ferocious, take-no-prisoner’s boxing style brought him the nickname “The Hurricane” and the Canadian professional middleweight title, but, by his early twenties, he was a spent force, with early signs of brain damage. There were criticisms that his managers pushed him too hard, too fast. Despite his impressive record of twenty-four knockouts in thirty-eight fights, many boxing insiders felt he might have had a world title shot, if he’d had better management. Melo was only twenty in 1982 when he quit pro boxing for the first time, a few months after being knocked out in a bid for the Canadian light heavyweight title. As it was, by the time he left the ring, he was married to a former Miss Montreal Alouette, drove a new Lincoln Continental, had $20,000 in jewellery, a new house in the Toronto suburbs, a newborn baby, and a job as an organizer with the Hotel and Restaurant Employees Union. He also had a furious temper and a tight friendship with Montreal Mafia boss Santos “Frank” Cotroni, whom he called “my number-one fan.”
In the Toronto area, Melo ran Cotroni-related businesses that supplied strippers for bars and rented out video machines. He quickly grated on the nerves of Hamilton mobster “Johnny Pops” Papalia, who, according to a police source, told Frank Cotroni, “Put a leash on Melo or I’ll kill him.” Johnny Pops wasn’t the only one who felt that way about Melo. In 1989, a group of young mobsters decided it was time for the ex-boxer to die, after Melo slapped one of them around in a College Street pool hall in Toronto’s Little Italy. A hit man was given a .357 magnum to kill Melo, and a smaller .22 for Melo’s less-threatening associate, Frank Natale Roda. The murder plot was foiled by police, but it took a toll on Melo nonetheless.
Perhaps the stress of almost being slain was what finally ended Melo’s first marriage. He and his first wife, Sine, separated, reconciled, and then split for good in April 1989. Shortly afterwards, she moved to the West Coast with their two young daughters, whom Melo dearly loved.
It was a truism among Toronto-area police that if they wanted to find trouble, they could always follow Melo. Surveillance officers noted him meeting at a trendy Yorkville eatery with a B.C. Hells Angel who was active in loansharking, and a 1993 police report from the Southern Italian province of Calabria listed him as a member of the Toronto Siderno Mafia group, even though Melo was born in Portugal and maintained tight ties with Cotroni.
In August 1994, a police wiretap caught Melo on the phone with Cotroni’s associate Tony Volpato. It was easy to draw ominous references, as Melo told Volpato, “I went there when they had the meeting. I had a couple of guys. We took care of things. You know what I mean? … Went down and took care of things, so there is no problem.… So what I’m doing, I think, is the right thing here for us … and fuck the other guy.”
As he approached middle age, Melo decided to return to a place where he had always felt in control and alive, the boxing ring. He planned to re-establish his name with bouts across Europe and South America, then earn the shot at a world title he had dreamed about more than half his life. His new manager was Harold Arviv, a Bay Street businessman whose past included prison time for blowing up his own Bloor Street disco for the insurance money.
However, around this time, Canadian police discovered that Melo, who had been brought to Canada at age six, had never taken out Canadian citizenship. He remained a Portuguese citizen, and now the government sought to deport him to Portugal for criminality. He was a new father, and protested: “My parents brought me here for a better life. I did everything in Canada. Had two daughters and now a baby. And I have to add I got in a lot of trouble here, too.”
He admitted to immigration officials that his friends included ex-boxer Joe Dinardo, known in police jargon as “a leg and arm man” with some thirty criminal convictions, stretching back to 1958, for arson, robbery, uttering counterfeit money to illegal possession of guns. When questioned by authorities, Melo had only kind words for Cotroni and his underworld associates, saying they never turned their backs on him, and were still his friends. He admitted that Volpato was in fact the godfather to one of his daughters. Melo added that he was the godfather of the daughter of Arviv, “the disco bomber” and would-be boxing manager.
Melo was asked in an immigration hearing if he would avoid the likes of Cotroni, Volpato, and Arviv, should he be allowed to stay in Canada. Clearly on the ropes, he replied, “All I know is that they’ve been okay with me. They’ve never asked me to do any criminal activity or get into trouble. They’ve only been supportive in whatever it was that I had to do.”
Melo told Canadian immigration authorities in 1999, “I haven’t seen anyone associated with the Mafia in three or four years. They’re all in jail.” By that point, Melo’s old mentor, Cotroni, and his associate, Volpato, both of Montreal, were indeed both behind bars.
As he fought to stay in Toronto, Melo remained a celebrity of sorts, and posed for photos at the 1998 Toronto Film Festival with second wife, Rhonda, whom the press gushed was a lookalike to actress Pamela Anderson Lee. He told immigration officials that he was receiving regular psychiatric counselling and two types of medication – a chemical straitjacket – to control the anger that had worked so well for him in the ring.
He complained to the Immigration and Refugee Board that police harassment almost drove him out of the vending-machine business. Police noted that close associates were still active in that business, and couldn’t help but be suspicious. He declared his income as exactly $24,000, yet somehow, he was able to maintain monthly condo expenses of $2,000 for his home on Lakeshore Boulevard West, another $1,500 monthly to his first wife, an undisclosed amount for a second condo on upscale Queen’s Quay, and payments on his sport utility vehicle and sleek Jaguar.
The first week of April 2001, Melo stayed home from his job as a boiler-room stock promoter at a Bay Street brokerage firm to be with Rhonda. Thursday, April 5, was his fortieth birthday, and he and Rhonda were going to celebrate the next night with tickets for tenor Andrea Boccelli at the Air Canada Centre. That afternoon, he and Rhonda went to see a lawyer friend for lunch at the Mövenpick restaurant on downtown York Street.
They returned to their condo overlooking Lake Ontario at about 5 p.m. Within fifteen minutes, Melo took Rhonda’s Cherokee to a nearby coffee bar at a tiny plaza near the Queen Elizabeth Highway to meet with his long-time friend Joao “Johnny” Pavao, a salvage-truck driver from the Toronto suburb of Mississauga. The restaurant was called the Amici Sport Café – amici is Italian for “friends” – where, in Rhonda’s words, he “used to go to drink cappuccino and hang out.” He wasn’t going to be long, as the concert was starting at 7.30 p.m.
Melo left Amici at 6 : 25 p.m. and was in the Cherokee chatting with Pavao, who stood in the parking lot, when Charles Gagné, an armed robber on parole, climbed into the backseat of the Jeep and shot Melo in the head, then turned the gun on Pavao. The job done, Gagné hijacked a red 1990 Honda Civic and fled.
It was the first time Gagné had ever met Melo or Pavao. He had been promised $75,000 for the killing, plus more criminal work.
Normally, in a homicide investigation, police start with the victim’s family and friends and work outwards, and Melo’s inner circle certainly gave them plenty to work with. “There’s a lot of history between a lot of people,” was Det. Steve Gormley of Peel Regional Police’s understated comment.
It would be two years before Gagné was charged with the murders, and two months later, a long-time acquaintance of Melo’s from the old College-Lansdowne area was charged with hiring him. When the arrests took place, Gagné was already under arrest in Hull for trying to collect a drug debt with a gun. There had been more than one thousand interviews done by police at this point.
Melo’s daughter Jessica made a point of flying out from British Columbia to be in Toronto for Gagné’s court appearance. For Jessica, a criminology student at Simon Fraser University, it was important to remind people of the Eddie Melo that she knew and loved. “He was the most amazing father, friend, confidante, supporter, everything,” she said. “I couldn’t ask for a better person to be my father.… I was with him for nineteen years. I went everywhere with him.”
Jessica and Rhonda wept repeatedly when Gagné pleaded guilty in court on September 30, 2003, after cutting a deal to testify against the man who hired him in return for the chance of parole after twelve years.
Melo’s younger brother, Joey, thirty-nine, said his brother was killed over jealousy, not underworld ties. Two men from the family’s old neighbourhood were charged with hiring Gagné. “It had nothing to do with bikers and it had nothing to do with mobsters,” he said. “It was the jealousy of a little man.”
“Eddie walked into a lot of places and people respected him,” Joey Melo said. “These guys could never face him one on one, even if my brother only had one arm and one leg.”
“At least we have some closure, but there is still only going to be two people at the dinner table tonight,” Rhonda said. “This is not a day for celebration. My son still has no father.”
Ironically, Melo might have still been alive if he hadn’t recently won his fight with Canadian authorities to keep from being deported to Portugal. He wasn’t famous or feared over there, but then nobody there wanted him dead either.
See also: Harold Arviv, Boxing, Charles Gagné, Frank “Santos” Cotroni .
Menard, Bob – See Paolo Violi .
Mennonite Triangle: Unholy Trade – There was a time when authorities on the Mexican-American border would simply wave at Mennonites in their pickup trucks as they crossed from Mexico into El Paso, Texas, loaded down with traditional furniture and “Queso de Chihuahua” (cheese).
The pious, plain-living, German-speaking Mennonites had a well-earned reputation for valuing simplicity and peace, and it was those values that first brought them from Canada to Mexico in the early 1920s. They moved from southern Manitoba to Cuauhtemoc in the high sierra of Chihuahua state, in Mexico, two hundred miles south of El Paso, Texas, to avoid conscription and compulsory education in English, which they feared would transmit “worldly” ideas.
The Mexican Mennonite community of more than fifty thousand was reeling from drought and crop failure in the late 1980s and early 1990s, and the North American Free Trade Agreement only made things worse, as in January 1994, they lost government subsidies for products like cheese and furniture. When the peso collapsed later that year, many of the once-proud farmers were impoverished and nervous. Their religion forbids contraception, meaning the hundred thousand acres they originally bought from the Mexican state wasn’t big enough to support their ever-growing numbers.
So perhaps it shouldn’t have come as a total shock when a few members of the community turned to drug trafficking instead of beginning factory work for $10 a day like others in their order. The first sign was in 1989 when a drug-sniffing dog at a border checkpoint in El Paso found more than two hundred pounds of marijuana in a truckload of Canada-bound traditional furniture. Further seizures came as the illegal weed was found in bricks of cheese and trailor-loads of fertilizer.
By the end of the 1990s, customs officers estimated that 20 per cent of the Mexican marijuana that reached Canada was carried by Mennonites, who ran a drug pipeline between southwestern Ontario, Manitoba, and Mexico dubbed “the Mennonite Triangle.” In the early 2000s, police feared what they called “the Mennonite Mob” was working with biker gangs to transport highly addictive methamphetamine. Competition from highly potent “B.C. Bud,” produced in B.C. indoor grow houses, has caused many involved in the Mennonite drug pipeline to shift their energies to cocaine, which produces higher profits and is more concentrated and easier to conceal.
Michipicoten Gang: Railroaded Town – Workers on the Canadian Pacific Railway in Northern Ontario in the late nineteenth century sweated for low wages in thick forests and swamps, tormented by clouds of blackflies that all but blocked out the sun. Their diet was so wretched that some suffered from scurvy.
Not surprisingly, many of them welcomed the chance to escape into a drunken haze, even though the CPR did not approve and the Public Works Act didn’t allow the sale or possession of liquor within ten miles of the rail route.
The work crews were a magnet for bootleggers, hookers, gamblers, con men, and thieves. Whisky that sold for fifty cents a gallon in Toronto fetched five dollars a pint by the rail lines.
Sudbury was a base for liquor smugglers, who bribed or bound railway detectives, and moved contraband whisky, gin, brandy, and beer in barrels labelled “vegetables.” Between September 1883 and October 1884, one Sudbury magistrate levied more than ninety bootlegging-related convictions.
Worksites on the north Superior received supplies from steamships out of Sault Ste. Marie and little ports like Peninsular Harbour and Michipicoten, an old Hudson’s Bay Company post on the northeast shore of the lake. The ports soon became smuggling hubs, as booze arrived in barrels marked “coal oil.”
There was a jail in Michipicoten, but it was only a root cellar for storing vegetables as well as lawbreakers. In the summer of 1884, railway contractor James “Bulldog” Commee locked a bootlegger named Bond in there for six months, and emptied his $600 worth of liquid wares into Lake Superior.
Bond won his release when he argued that Commee had no authority to do this, but Commee simply arrested him again, and then searched the law books to see if he had the authority to have Bond flogged. He found he didn’t have this power, so he settled for sentencing Commee to life imprisonment in the root cellar.
It was about this time that Commee learned that his head constable, Charles Wallace, thirty-six, a former cook known as Montana Charlie, moonlighted as a top bootlegger, and had been using his official position to further his illegal business. Wallace was fired, but when Commee had to leave town temporarily on railway matters, Bond was sprung loose again.
In Commee’s absence, Wallace pulled together a tough gang that included Harry Leland, a fugitive from Michigan State Penitentiary, “Little Dick” Goldsberry of Ireland, and Canadians Gordon Doherty and Arthur Asselin (a.k.a. McGillvery), an escapee from Stony Mountain Penitentiary in Manitoba.
By October 1884, Wallace’s gang had virtual control of Michipicoten, using a spirited combination of bribes and beatings. Liquor sales were conducted in the open, and Wallace collected taxes from other liquor sellers for his “corporation.” Hoodlums flocked into town from Peninsular Harbour to be part of a thriving community, run by criminals for criminals and fuelled by illegal booze.
Lawmen were ordered out of town, and fired upon to speed their exit. Wallace’s gang actually posted notices that made it clear the lives of law enforcers were in danger, should they choose to stay. The posters sounded official, as they were marked “By Order of the Vigilance Committee,” which was Wallace’s gang.
However, Canadian Pacific agent Alexander Macdonald and Ontario magistrate Captain Burden refused to abandon town. On the night of October 10, 1884, thirty-five masked men opened fire on the building the two used as their office and living quarters. Some three hundred bullets were pumped into the building, but the lawmen survived.
The mob rioted and the unarmed, untrained civilian constables couldn’t handle that. They turned to Toronto for help and, on October 17, 1884, Captain Burden met with Mayor Boswell in Toronto and Major Draper, Toronto chief of police, who sent up eleven officers, armed with carbines, bayonets, and revolvers. The bootleggers were unfazed, telling a reporter they could easily pick off the police as soon as they arrived in the harbour.
Hostile words, not snipers, greeted the police, however, as most of the town apparently preferred booze to justice. News of the impending cleanup reached a gang of thirty whores, who were heading north to Michipicoten, and they redirected themselves to Port Arthur.
The Toronto police seized a boat and a prisoner and left. As soon as they were out of town, Wallace and his band returned, with Wallace packing a Winchester rifle, four pistols, and a Bowie knife.
Soon, he moved on to Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan, where he bragged of personally firing a hundred shots at the lawmen’s building, and it wasn’t long before he was arrested and deported to Canada. When someone raised the argument that this deportation wasn’t legal, the Michigan sheriff simply shrugged and said he didn’t want Wallace in his town.
When Wallace and his gang were on trial in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, that November, Asselin and Goldsberry listed their occupations as bartender and waiter. All of the gang got a year in custody for rioting, except for Wallace, who was inexplicably acquitted.
Unrepentant, he returned to Michipicoten aboard a dogsled full of booze. He was arrested about seven miles from town on January 28, 1885. He had ambushed police and wounded one officer in the leg, but when more police arrived, he surrendered on the order “Throw up your thumbs.”
This time, his sentence was quashed for mysterious reasons just ten days after he was brought to Central Prison in Toronto to serve eighteen months in jail for selling liquor to Natives. In the end, it was progress on the railway, and not law enforcement, that dried up the activities of his gang. The rail crews moved west, and the once-notorious port of Michipicoten grew quiet again.
See also: Black Hand .
Mickle, Michael Edward “Zeke”: Vanished Biker – In early May 1993, the white late-model GMC Suburban belonging to the president of the Nanaimo, B.C., chapter of the Hells Angels was found in the Harwood area south of Nanaimo, not far from his home. Mickle was nowhere to be seen.
At the time of his disappearance, Mickle listed his occupation as a prospector. His Angels owned a good deal of property and businesses on Vancouver Island, including a former nudist colony – known as Angel Acres – where they held rock concerts.
His body was never found, but rumours surfaced that he was beheaded by a Vietnamese gang that had increasing strength on Vancouver Island. When a reporter asked the Angels what they thought happened, the newsman’s thumb was snapped.
See also: Hells Angels .
Miller, Larry: High Flyer – In his prime, in the early to mid-1990s, he cut quite a dashing figure, as co-owner of the Beverly Hills, a fifty-four-thousand-square-foot casino, nightclub, and restaurant complex in Moscow’s Red Square. Fellow investors included Hollywood actionfilm star Chuck Norris, and Miller jetted around in a U.S.$2.5 million Lear jet he bought in Tijuana, Mexico, which cost $66,000 a month to maintain and fly.
He maintained his primary residence was in Massena, an upstate New York town of 11,700, across the St. Lawrence River from Cornwall, Ontario. When in the Massena area, he hung out at the bar of Club 37, a roadhouse on Highway 37 on the outskirts of town, where he sometimes had two cellphones simultaneously on the go. At other times, for particularly intense meetings, Miller would retreat to a private room in the back of the premises.
When not in Moscow or Massena, there was a good chance Miller was at his Las Vegas home, where his fishing buddies included the city’s mayor and where he was known as a big player at a casino called Arizona Charlie’s.
Miller took his fishing, gambling, and business seriously, and shelled out U.S.$350,000 on a fishing trip at the exclusive Sonora Island Lodge near Campbell River, British Columbia. Approximately forty people were on the trip, including the mayor of Las Vegas and various tobacco and alcohol suppliers, dealers and executives.
This lifestyle was all quite a step up for Miller, who arrived in the Massena area in the late 1980s as a truck driver, hauling gambling equipment from Las Vegas to the Akwesasne Mohawk reservation.
Reportedly born in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, Miller had his first serious brush with the law in Chicago, where he was convicted in 1967 for armed robbery and sentenced to five years. Lesser charges and convictions followed during the 1970s and early 1980s, including possession of explosives, forgery, criminal contempt of court, and tax evasion.
It was in the Massena area that things finally seemed to get on track for him. Soon, he began a smuggling operation with businessman Anthony Laughing, who ran an illegal casino on the Akwesasne reservation in the late 1980s and who was later imprisoned for leading an armed standoff against state troopers. In 1996, Laughing would be convicted again in federal court of assaulting a federal customs agent.
In fact, Miller masterminded a brazen smuggling ring that operated from the St. Regis Mohawk reservation, which straddled the Canada-U.S. border and overlapped the Ontario-Quebec border, and which prosecutors said smuggled $687 million worth of tobacco and alcohol into Canada between 1991 and 1997.
Eventually, Miller brought his mistress, a son, a daughter, and an assortment of others into the operation.
Timing as well as geography made things ripe for big profits. When Canada enacted a nearly $2-a-pack tobacco tax in the early 1990s, it opened up an enormous black market for smuggling cigarettes. Miller’s organization bought untaxed Canadian export cigarettes and hauled them to St. Regis on the U.S. side of the St. Lawrence. The tax-free cigarettes were purchased by Mohawk fitness-club owner Fabian Hart.
Hart distributed the contraband cigarettes to individual smugglers, who brought them back across the border into Canada, where they were resold at a profit. Each week, Miller later told authorities, he moved about 1.4 million packs of cigarettes across the St. Lawrence. Soon Hart had enough money to line the outside of his home in marble.
After the goods were sold in Canada, the Canadian money was transferred to U.S. currency with the help of a retired state trooper who ran currency exchange businesses in the nearby towns of Hogansburg and Malone. That officer later pleaded guilty to moving $557 million through his currency-exchange and armoured-car businesses.
According to authorities, Miller later formed a partnership with Lewis C. Tavano, fifty-seven, a reputed organized-crime figure, and his brother Robert J. Tavano, Sr., sixty-one, an ex-Niagara Falls GOP chairman. The Tavano brothers later pleaded guilty to using their importing company to launder $50 million they made through smuggling untaxed cigarettes and liquor into Canada. The Tavanos’ plea bargain brought them a sentence of five years in prison and fines totalling $1 million.
When the federal government cut its cigarette taxes to combat smuggling, Miller responded by expanding his operations and reducing costs. He became heavily involved in smuggling to Russia, including schemes to sneak chemicals used in fireworks from Russia into Canada and plans to smuggle container-loads of vodka from Finland into Russia.
Meanwhile, undercover RCMP officers posing as truckers had infiltrated Miller’s group. The undercover Mounties delivered thousands of cases of liquor supplied by the Miller organization to a black-market network in the Hamilton area, as well as repatriated Canadian cigarettes to Vancouver.
Undercover agents in Canada and the United States infiltrated some of the smuggling rings, and in June 1997, Larry Miller and twenty others were arrested and charged in Syracuse, New York, with numerous smuggling-related crimes. All twenty-one defendants would eventually plead guilty to reduced charges.
For Miller, the undercover police operation brought a seventeen-and-a-half-year prison sentence, and the loss of his properties, and his gold Rolex watch, boats, snowmobiles, and $25,000 in pocket money. In November 2000, Club 37, the New York State bar that was Miller’s former headquarters, was turned into a U.S. Border Patrol office.
Miner, Bill: Holdup Pioneer – When a reporter asked a B.C. resident at the turn of the twentieth century about Bill Miner, the resident replied, “Hell, old Bill Miner ain’t so bad. He only robs the CPR once every two years. The CPR robs us all every day.”
The silver-haired, moustachioed B.C. man with the gentlemanly demeanour was known to apologize after stickups of trains and banks and wave politely while making his getaway. He’s also credited, rightly or wrongly, with being the first cowboy to utter the phrase, “Hands up!”
He wasn’t the first bandit to rob a Canadian train, but he was the first criminal to hit the mighty CPR line. Another group, known as the KKK , robbed trains near Toronto.
Average people loved to hear of his exploits. In the eyes of many pioneers, the railways grabbed up land and gouged prices while the banks were considered even more greedy. When Miner robbed trains and banks, people preferred to think of him as a Robin Hood rather than as a real criminal. There were stories about how he was gentle with orphans and the disadvantaged. According to one yarn, as popular as it was unsubstantiated, he paid off the mortgage for an old widow who was faced with foreclosure, then stole back the money from the bank as soon as he was sure her deed was secure.
Bill Miner, train robber (1906, Glenbow Archives, NA-837-1r)
The posse that captured Bill Miner near Kamloops, B.C., 1906 (Glenbow Archives, NA-654-5)
By the time Miner arrived in Canada in the early years of the twentieth century, he was already a veteran of the American prison system. On April 3, 1866, he was sent to San Quentin for four years, three months, and three days for his part in a robbery that netted $75,000. On February 9, 1872, he was again convicted of robbery, and sent back to San Quentin for nine years and twenty-one days.
On December 15, 1881, Miner was convicted again of robbery and this time received a sentence of twenty-five years at San Quentin due to his prior convictions. He got out early again for good behaviour, despite briefly escaping from custody, after serving nineteen years, five months, and twenty-seven days. He was then fifty-four, and had served more than thirty-two years behind bars.
In 1904, he had planned to go straight and give up train robbing, and had settled quietly into life in Merritt, British Columbia, under the name of George Edwards, but then he heard of a train loaded with money for San Francisco earthquake relief, and he decided to pull one last, big haul. He teamed up with a sometime-prospector named Shorty Dunn and a former teacher named Louis Colquhou, and together they boarded the westbound CPR train seventeen miles east of Kamloops, British Columbia.
Unfortunately for Miner, Dunn and Colquhou weren’t of his criminal calibre. When the heist was over, they fled on a single horse with about a hundred dollars. It was a considerable step down from two years earlier, when Miner robbed another CPR train single-handedly.
There was now a $12,000 reward for his capture, and the B.C. Provincial Police called for the Royal North-West Mounted Police in Calgary to help out. They were told they could identify Miner by a distinctive tattoo on his forearm of a ballet dancer. The officers found three men who matched the robbers’ description eating lunch in the Douglas Lake area. Shorty Dunn tried to run for freedom and was stopped with a bullet to the leg.
Miner realized there was no point putting up a fight. Later in court, he bragged to a Canadian judge, “No jail can hold me, sir.” At this point, he had managed three jail breaks, so the words were no idle boast. He lasted about a year in the B.C. Penitentiary before escaping in broad daylight. He made his way to Georgia, where he became the first person in that state’s history to pull a train robbery.
That pioneering effort brought him a twenty-five-year prison sentence. He escaped from the Milledgeville State Prison, Georgia, on October 18, 1911, but was recaptured. He died in the Georgia State Prison in 1913, at the age of seventy, having spent half of his life behind bars, including in the horrific confines of San Quentin.
See also: Pearl Hart .
Montagna, Salvatore: “Bambino Boss” – Born in Canada in 1971, Montagna was raised in Sicily and moved to New York at age fifteen. He quickly rose to the top of New York’s Bonanno crime family, becoming its interim leader in 2006 at the relatively tender age of thirty-five. For this, he was declared the “Bambino Boss” by a tabloid, while others in his milieu called him “Sal the Ironworker” for his family’s steel business in Brooklyn.
His time atop the New York Mob family was short-lived, after he was charged with illegal gambling and ordered to testify before a grand jury. Montagna refused and was deported to Canada in 2009. Being the deposed head of the Bonannos was nothing to brag about in Montreal, since Bonnano informers were the reason why local crime boss Vito Rizzuto was convicted for his role in three gangland slayings.
Not long after Montagna’s arrival in Montreal, key figures in the Rizzuto crime family began showing up dead, with bullets in their bodies. There were reports that Montagna approached Nicolo “Zio Cola” or “Uncle Nick” Rizzuto Sr. in the fall of 2010, suggesting that the eighty-six-year-old step aside gracefully so that he could avoid the same fate. Rizzuto declined, and within months he was dead from a bullet to the head.
A year later, on November 24, 2011, there were reports of gunshots and broken glass in Île Vaudry, a working-class neighbourhood on a tiny island about thirty miles north of Montreal. When police arrived, they found Montagna’s bullet-riddled body on the shores of the Assomption River. They concluded that the mobster swam across the river after being shot before collapsing on its other shore.
It was notable that Montagna’s funeral brought out a mere seventy people, just a fraction of the attendance at the funeral masses in the previous years for Nicolo Rizzuto and his grandson, Nick Jr. Both Rizzutos were felled by shots from unknown assassins. There was also a respectful turnout of hundreds of mourners for the July 5, 2010 send-off of Agostino Cuntrera, another murdered member of the Rizzuto crime clan. It was also notable that Montagna wasn’t buried out of the Montreal funeral home or the Notre Dame de la Defense church in Little Italy, which were used for all key Mafia funerals.
The conclusion by Mafia watchers was simple: Montagna had plotted with others who had once been Rizzuto allies to take over the Rizzuto family, while Vito Rizzuto was cooling himself in an American prison. In time, the conspiracy had turned on itself, with members of the plot against the Rizzutos turning on Montagna. His rise to the top of the underworld had been rapid and his fall even quicker.
See also: Maurice “Mom” Boucher, Alfonso Caruana, Giuseppe “Joe” LoPresti, Sabatino Nicolucci, Nicolo “Nick” Rizzuto, Vito Rizzuto, Gerlando Sciascia .
Moose Jaw Capone Tunnels: Criminal Underground – Chicago mobster Al Capone once quipped, “I don’t even know what street Canada is on.” However, Capone apparently did know what was under the streets of Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan.
His men were said to hide out during Prohibition in a network of tunnels located under this southern Saskatchewan city, once one of the wildest frontier towns in the Canadian West.
The tunnels were first dug as hideouts in about 1908 by Chinese railway workers after several of them were savagely beaten at the CPR railyards by whites who believed the Chinese were taking their jobs.
This was a time when Western Canada was gripped by hysteria about the “yellow peril,” and Ottawa imposed its infamous head tax on Chinese would-be immigrants. Terrified and unable to pay the head tax, which no other immigrants were required to pay, the Chinese workers literally went underground, digging secret tunnels where they could hide until the situation improved. The railway workers managed to bring women to live with them and even raised children in the rat-infested darkness.
These tunnels acquired a whole new purpose in the 1920s, when the United States and much of Canada embarked on Prohibition. As a major CPR terminus, linked to the United States by the Soo Line, Moose Jaw was ideally situated to become a bootlegging hub. The city’s relatively remote location also made it a good place to escape U.S. police.
Moose Jaw became something of a gangsters’ resort, with regular visits from the Chicago Mob. “They came to lay in the sun,” Laurence “Moon” Mullin, an eighty-nine-year-old Moose Jaw resident who worked as a messenger in the tunnels as an eleven-year-old boy, told a reporter.
It didn’t hurt that much of the local police force was in cahoots with the bootleggers. Word had it that Chief Walter Johnson let the gangsters hide out in Moose Jaw, in exchange for a promise that they wouldn’t commit crimes in the city.
The tunnels were apparently as active as anything going on above ground, being used for gambling, prostitution, and warehousing illegal booze. Mullin said one tunnel went right under the CPR station and opened into a shed in the railway yards. It was possible to load and unload rail cars without any risk of being seen by unfriendly eyes.
Mullin says that Chief Johnson would occasionally stop by his newspaper stand. As Johnson paid his nickel, he would whisper into Mullin’s ear, “There’s going to be a big storm tonight.” Young Mullin knew what those words meant: an imminent raid by Allen Hawkes of the Saskatchewan Liquor Commission, who did not share Johnson’s lenient attitudes.
The boy would rush to a hidden door under the Exchange Café, give a secret knock, run down a tunnel to a second door, and knock again. There he would be admitted to a room full of gamblers. “The smoke was so thick you could have cut it with a sharp knife and brought it out in squares,” he joked to a reporter. “But everyone seemed quite comfortable.”
Mullin said he and the other messenger boys got twenty cents for every errand. The gangsters didn’t allow them to touch the booze, but did instruct the boys on how to play poker.
As recently as the 1970s, local officials denied the existence of the tunnels, but the denials became difficult to maintain when part of Main Street collapsed, leaving an unsuspecting motorist planted in a deep hole. “I always said some day a truck is going to break through, and it did,” Mullin said when knowledge of the tunnels finally became public.
Now you can take a guided tour of the tunnel, which lasts forty-five minutes, beginning at a souvenir shop on Main Street North in downtown Moose Jaw.
Al Capone mugshot
Moose Jaw Police Chief Walter P. Johnson (Courtesy Moose Jaw Public Library)
Moose Jaw train station (Peter Edwards)
Mora, Enio: Frightful Limp – Perhaps the most fearsome thing about 260-pound Enio Mora was his limp. There were whispers that the Toronto mobster had lost his lower left leg in a shotgun blast in 1979 when someone tried to rob a Harbord Street gambling club near the University of Toronto that was frequented by Mora and Mob associates.
The prime suspect in that case was a small-time thug named Anthony Carnevale, but he was never taken to court for the crime. Someone – and many thought it was Mora – killed Carnevale with a shotgun blast in the Keele Street basement apartment of his parents’ home in January 1980, shortly after Mora was fitted for an artificial leg.
Mora was born in 1949 in Sora, Italy, and grew up in southern France, immigrating to Canada in 1968. His criminal enterprises included illegal gambling, loansharking, scams involving Toronto-area homebuilding, and laundering money in the Caribbean. Legitimate activities of the North Park Drive resident included selling life insurance, operating a snack bar on St. Clair Avenue West, working as a building contractor, and running a drywalling firm.
In the early 1970s, he had been particularly close to Toronto mobster Rocco Zito, and by the early 1980s, he had a working relationship with Toronto Mob leader Paul Volpe and a crooked member of the Carpenters’ Union. He was also moving in Hamilton Mob circles, and on February 5, 1984, he visited Hamilton mobster Antonio “Tony” Musitano at Millhaven Penitentiary with Musitano’s brother, Domenic Musitano, and son Pasquale “Pat” Musitano.
In December 1985, Mora was charged with extorting money from Greek gambling houses in Toronto’s Pape-Danforth area along with members of the Niagara Mob, including Carmen Barillaro.
There was something curious about his body that was unusual for a Mob hit – his pants were pulled down. That was a sign that he had offended someone on a sexual level. Such killings were considered points of honour in the Mob, and a boss didn’t have to gain consent from other bosses before ordering such an execution on a high-level mobster like Mora.
Those who knew Mora best realized they had to take him seriously. When one businessman was too slow repaying a debt, Mora doused him with gasoline and drove him to Hamilton for a meeting with Mob boss “Johnny Pops” Papalia. Papalia lit his cigarette lighter near the man, then asked, “When am I going to get my money?” The man paid up.
In the 1990s, Mora and Papalia drew heat themselves from a new group of Sicilian mobsters who moved into Toronto from Montreal, setting up a ritzy restaurant on Avenue Road and a splashy west-end nightclub. Mora and Papalia were supposed to invest money in real estate for the newcomers, but instead millions of dollars disappeared and Mora and Johnny Pops had a new set of enemies.
The shooting that cost Mora his leg had apparently been the last time anybody got tough with him – until September 11, 1996, when someone shot him in the head four times at close range and stuffed his large, lifeless body into the trunk of his gold Cadillac near the intersection of Teston and Weston Roads just off Highway 400 in Vaughan, north of Toronto.
The fact that Mora met a violent end in his forty-eighth year wasn’t a shock to anyone who knew him. “It [Mora’s murder] sure wasn’t a surprise,” said Ron Sandelli, former head of Metro police intelligence, who worked on cases involving Mora for more than a decade. “He had his hand into so many things.”
Those who knew Mora also found it ironic that his body was found in the trunk of a luxury car. Some veteran police officers suspected Mora played a role in luring Paul Volpe to his death in 1983. Volpe, who was also active in skimming money from the housebuilding industry and in gambling, was also found in the trunk of a luxury auto. It was obvious that both the Volpe and Mora hits were not carried out by street criminals, who usually find cheaper, more permanent, hiding place for bodies than the trunks of expensive automobiles.
Not long before his death, Mora won a court fight against Canadian authorities, who sought to deport him to Italy after he was convicted in Canada for drug trafficking and weapons possession. Mora successfully argued that his deportation could cause undue hardship to his wife and three young sons.
The search for clues into the Mora murder led York Region detectives to a farmhouse in Vaughan. Forensic testing established that the farm, which Mora often visited, was the site where he was murdered before he was put in the trunk of his Cadillac.
Police credit Mora for inadvertently leading to the downfall of international Sicilian money launderer Alfonso Caruana. In 1995, while monitoring Mora’s telephone conversations, police heard of an upcoming wedding, and set up surveillance at Toronto’s posh Sutton Place Hotel. The father of the bride was identified as Caruana, who was wanted by Italian authorities for money laundering and Mafia associations. Caruana had fled from Italy, but police didn’t know where he had settled until the wedding.
The investigation that followed involved several countries and a dozen law agencies, and by the time it was over, Mora was dead and several Caruana family members were charged and convicted.
See also: Giacinto Arcuri, Alfonso Caruana, Anthony Musitano, John “Johnny Pops” Papalia, Paul Volpe .
Shue Moy: Gambling King – He was known in Vancouver’s Chinatown as the “king of the gamblers,” and in 1928, he was the focus of a special provincial police inquiry into the corruption of that city’s police chief and mayor. Embarrassing stories out of that inquiry about payoffs to police and politicians pushed the city’s police chief, H.W. Long, to resign.
This was during a time when scores of opium-smuggling syndicates were broken up by police in Vancouver, Toronto, Montreal, New York City, and the Maritimes. The drugs were often smuggled in luxury ocean liners and the criminals caught for the operations were often deported to China after serving their jail terms.
See also: Triads .
Murdock, Ken: “Ethical Hit man – Ken Murdock’s life changed forever when he met mobster Domenic Musitano in 1984 in the Collins Bay Penitentiary in Kingston, Ontario, and Musitano asked him to protect his sons, Angelo and Pasquale “Pat,” when he got out of custody. “It proved to be an extremely unhealthy relationship,” Angelo Musitano’s lawyer, John Rosen, later understated in court.
Murdock was the hit man who killed Hamilton Mob boss “Johnny Pops” Papalia and his lieutenant, Carmen Barillaro of Niagara Falls, in 1997 while working for Musitano. Murdock said in an interview that he also machine-gunned Hamilton janitor Salvatore Alaimo to death in 1985. Alaimo was an honest man, but Murdock said the mobster wanted to use his death to pressure his family.
In a telephone interview with Peter Edwards for the Toronto Star , Murdock professed great affection for Domenic Musitano, but said he felt betrayed by Musitano’s sons, Pat and Angelo. After agreeing to testify for the Crown against the younger Musitanos, Murdock pled guilty to the gangland hits and was sentenced to life imprisonment with no hope of parole for thirteen years.
Murdock’s voice was surprisingly polite when he discussed the dos-and-don’ts of being a hit man for the mob. In the interview, Murdock said he made a point of killing his victims away from their wives and children. “You don’t do that sort of stuff in front of the wife and kids,” he said.
He pointed out that before he gunned down Barillaro on July 23, 1997, he surveyed the target’s upscale house for hours, waiting patiently for Barillaro’s wife and children to go on a shopping trip. “I sat down the street with binoculars, waited for the kids to leave. Waited for the wife to leave. I didn’t want anybody in the house. A lot of guys wouldn’t care.”
He dismissed criticism of his technique when he shot Papalia in the back of the head in a parking lot in downtown Hamilton. The Catholic Church denied Papalia a full funeral mass because the career criminal didn’t see his death coming, denying him a chance to make his peace with God in the final instant of his life. In the interview, Murdock stressed that he was a hit man, not a theologian, and that Papalia would have been fighting, not praying, if he had been shot from the front. “Making peace with God? I don’t think that would be the first thing on his mind,” Murdock said.
Just before he pulled the trigger on Papalia, Murdock said he lied to the elderly mobster, saying that he was about to take action against Pat Musitano because he was owed money. “He asked if it was going to be a good thing,” Murdock recalled. “I said, ‘No, it’s going to be a very bad thing.’ ”
“He said, ‘Do what you want to do. I’m not going to involve myself.’ Basically he gave me a green light to shoot Pat.”
Murdock says Papalia was targeted for murder because he had loaned $250,000 to cover another mobster’s bookmaking debts, after a bad run setting the betting line on NFL games. It was cheaper to pay Murdock with $3,000 and some cocaine to murder Papalia rather than honour the debt.
Back in his hit man days, Murdock said long lines of cocaine helped him cope with job stress. While in custody, Murdock consoled himself with thoughts of the half-dozen killings he was ordered to do, but didn’t carry out. He said that memories of the slayings he did commit often came back to him at night. “Things are right up close, personal. The image doesn’t leave you.”
See also: Carmen Barillaro, Angelo Musitano, Domenic Musitano, Pasquale “Pat” Musitano, John Joseph “Johnny Pops” Papalia .
Musitano, Angelo: Angry Brother – He had just finished serving seven years in prison in Calabria in southern Italy for shooting a man to death in 1929 when he heard that his widowed sister was pregnant.
In an apparent attempt to restore family honour, he shot her dead, according to evidence given in Italian court, and then dragged her body by her hair to her lover’s home. He shot the lover twice, but the man survived. After Musitano fled, an Italian court sentenced him to thirty years prison in absentia .
Musitano escaped to France, then stowed away on a ship to Canada. He jumped ship in Halifax, and made his way west to Hamilton, Ontario, where his brother Pasquale was raising a family of eight children. There, Musitano lived under the name Angelo D’Augustino, working as a bleach salesman and a machinist at a steel plant. Neighbours called him friendly and a regular churchgoer. He never married, and to his many nephews, he was Uncle Angie.
Authorities kept him under surveillance for twenty-two months before finally making the arrest in 1965, and at first he wouldn’t admit his true identity. Shown a thirty-five-year-old photograph of himself on an Italian police circular, he finally relented, saying, “Yes, it’s me. Was I like that?”
Angelo Musitano, 1997
He was deported from Hamilton on March 2, 1965, for illegally entering Canada, and was flown back to Rome to serve his prison term, thirty-six years after the murder of his sister.
See also: Angelo, Antonio, Domenic, and Pasquale “Pat” Musitano .
Musitano, Angelo: Killer Drive – He drove with hit man Ken Murdock to Niagara Falls on July 23, 1997, and waited in the car as Murdock shot mobster Carmen Barillaro dead. The son of Hamilton Mob boss Domenic Musitano, younger brother of Pasquale “Pat” Musitano, and great-nephew of Angelo Musitano, he was sentenced to ten years in prison for his part in the slaying.
Musitano, Antonio “Tony” Charles: Bombing Baker – Ten years younger than his brother, crime boss Domenic, he owned the Calabria Pasticceria on James Street North in Hamilton. His uncle was Angelo Musitano, who fled to Hamilton after murdering his sister in Calabria.
While Tony’s rich pastries were a veritable taste explosion, he was perhaps most notable for helping turn Hamilton into Canada’s leading city for bombings throughout the late 1970s.
A 1983 trial found Musitano guilty of six bombings, one attempted bombing, and two cases of arson, all of which followed extortion demands, as well as attempts to persuade the victims “to join the family.”
Musitano, whom a police officer testified was a member of the Calabrian Mafia (’Ndrangheta), was originally sentenced to life imprisonment. In passing sentence, District Court Judge Hugh O’Connell said, “This crime does not, in my view, attract any feeling of mercy or compassion. Nor am I attracted to the idea of tempering justice with mercy.”
However, the Ontario Court of Appeal reduced the life sentence to fifteen years. The brush with a life term didn’t scare Tony straight; while behind bars in Millhaven Penitentiary in 1983, he plotted the contract killing of Toronto mobster Domenic Racco.
He was eventually convicted of setting up the Racco killing, but this didn’t really hurt him, since his new twelve-year sentence was to be served concurrently with his earlier arson sentence.
A year after being sentenced for plotting the Racco murder, Musitano was transferred to a medium-security penitentiary. In 1987, he was transferred to Beaver Creek Institution, a minimum-security prison near Gravenhurst, Ontario, which was sometimes called the “Muskoka Hilton,” because of its relaxed rules and comfortable facilities, including a golf course and swimming pool for convicts. Inside prison, Musitano was an untouchable, who quietly served his time and avoided trouble, which helped him when he came before the parole board. The fact that he had arranged a gangland hit while behind bars somehow didn’t factor into the decision.
By 1988, he was granted early parole in recognition of his “good behaviour” as a convict, despite setting up the Racco murder. There were howls of protests from police, who said it highlighted their seeming inability to deal with organized criminals. While he had been a model inmate, on the streets, he had recruited motorcycle gang members to enforce his demands around the community, and it cost police more than $1 million to investigate the bombings his gang carried out.
See also: Domenic Musitano, Domenic Racco .
Musitano, Domenic: Illegal Tire Dump – He lived in a modest semi-detached home on Colbourne Street in Hamilton, in the city’s old north-end Italian district and a ten-minute walk from Railway Street, the epicentre of operations for the Papalia crime family. Ostensibly, he ran a scrapyard where bald automobile tires were dumped. More importantly, he was an old-school ’Ndrangheta leader, enjoying influence over his neighbours more than material trappings.
He was brought up with the exaggerated, odd sense of honour of the Calabrian underworld. His uncle, Angelo Musitano, fled Italy after murdering his pregnant, widowed sister, and Domenic honoured him by naming one of his sons Angelo.
This code of behaviour meant no slights, however minor, could be ignored. He served three years of a seven-year sentence for shooting a Hamilton motorist who irritated him in 1961 by honking his horn at him.
He and his north-end Hamilton neighbour “Johnny Pops” Papalia met regularly in 1982, leading police to believe they were plotting something. In 1983, a Hamilton court cleared Musitano of four counts of conspiracy to commit extortion. Police alleged he was trying to control the dump-truck business there.
In 1985, he was sentenced to six years in prison for his part in the 1983 gangland-style slaying of Toronto mobster Domenic Racco, thirty-two. Murder charges against him were dropped after he pleaded guilty to being an accessory after the fact. Musitano was released on parole after serving the mandatory minimum two years for providing the gun in the slaying.
Racco, who owed him a cocaine debt, was released from prison for that crime in February 1987, after serving the minimum two years of his six-year sentence. His release was strongly opposed at the time by the Hamilton-Wentworth Police. “He was involved in an organized crime murder and he represents a threat to the citizens of this region,” said the force’s chief, Robert Hamilton.
In the 1990s, the province took control of the illegal 800,000-tire dump that he ran, and sent him and his family a tab for $1.8 million in cleanup costs, but he protested that he had no money to pay the bill. He had earlier applied to the provincial government for $3.5 million to upgrade the dump – in effect trying to use government money to make an illegal operation more advanced than his legal competitors.
He had heart surgery at age fifty-one and died six years later after suffering a heart attack in his home.
See also: Angelo, Domenic, and Pasquale “Pat” Musitano, ’Ndrangheta, John “Johnny Pops” Papalia, Domenic Racco .
Musitano, Pasquale “Pat”: Funeral Greetings – The son of old Hamilton Mob boss Domenic Musitano, he was front and centre on Barton Street East in Hamilton at the funeral of murdered Mafia boss “Johnny Pops” Papalia.
Papalia had been shot to death the Saturday afternoon of May 31, 1997, in the parking lot of his business, Galaxy Vending, on Hamilton’s dead-end Railway Street, in the city’s old Italian district.
At Papalia’s funeral, Pat Musitano exchanged kisses and strutted about outside the funeral home. It was as if the event was about him, not Papalia. In a sense it was, since the hit man Ken Murdock was working for Musitano.
Musitano ran the Gathering Spot restaurant on James Street North, about a ten-minute walk from Papalia’s office. Diners knew the Gathering Spot for its tasty thin-crust pizza, while mobsters thought of it as a place to meet with Musitano, whose father, ’Ndrangheta leader Domenic Musitano, had died a couple years earlier of a heart attack.
Pat Musitano had a long association with Murdock through Domenic. Murdock had been the trigger man for Domenic Musitano in the drive-by machine-gun slaying of Salvatore Alaimo, a janitor at the Stelco steel plant. Later, Murdock learned that Alaimo had done nothing wrong, but simply had the misfortune of being related to someone who angered the elder Musitano.
Pasquale “Pat” Musitano in sunglasses (centre) at John “Johnny Pops” Papalia funeral , 1997 Inset: Musitano walking at Papalia funeral
Murdock considered Pat and his brother Angelo friends, and he liked to think they were showing their trust and respect when they presented him with an expensive gold ring bearing his initials. As Murdock understood it, the hit on Johnny Pops was about money. Pat owed money to the old gangster and, Murdock later said, “there was some pressure. And he went from that to, you know, that he didn’t feel too comfortable owing John money is what it boiled down to. I don’t feel he had the money to pay John back and from the tone of the voice from him asking me to do basically John, that he was scared.”
There were others who thought that Pat Musitano had more far-reaching plans. He was considered friendly with Montreal Sicilians who had recently arrived in Ontario, and they considered Johnny Pops a bothersome obstacle to their expansion and a relic from the old American La Cosa Nostra. Naturally, the Musitanos would not feel the need to share this information with a street-level criminal like Murdock.
Murdock expected money as well as thanks for the murder. He said he was supposed to get $10,000 and fifteen ounces of cocaine, but declared he would have done it for nothing, because it was “for the family.” Ultimately, he got about $2,000 for the hit, and also the cocaine.
It wasn’t long before shock waves from the Johnny Pops murder were heard from Buffalo, New York, about an hour’s drive from where he was slain. The Musitano brothers heard about a meeting in Buffalo, attended by Carmen Barillaro, Johnny Pops’s Niagara Falls, Ontario, lieutenant. What the Musitanos heard about that meeting was both insulting and threatening. “Word came back to Pat more or less that he was next,” Murdock later said. “The only details I got was the meeting took place and supposedly through the leader over there, the right-hand man trickled information back and Carmen was stated as saying at the table, at the meeting, ‘I’ll take care of that fat piece of s**t [Pat Musitano] myself.’ ”
That’s why Murdock and his friend Angelo Musitano drove down to the Falls on July 23, 1997, on the eve of Barillaro’s fifty-third birthday. With Angelo Musitano waiting in a car outside, Murdock knocked on the front door of Barillaro’s upscale home. When Barillaro came to the door, Murdock asked him if the red Corvette in the driveway was for sale. Barillaro wasn’t one to humour idiots or strangers, and Murdock appeared to be both.
The niceties over, Murdock pushed his way inside. “Barillaro seemed to understand what was about to occur,” Murdock said later. Murdock pulled out a 9 mm pistol, as Barillaro ran to another room, then turned and rushed Murdock, who squeezed off two shots, stopping his desperate charge.
Late in 1998, Murdock was arrested for extortion. At first, awaiting trial on that charge, Murdock was stoic in jail, but his mood turned angry when police played him a tape that suggested his life was in danger from the very gangsters he tried so hard to impress, the Musitanos. On October 22, 1998, Murdock signed an agreement to co-operate with police. He pleaded guilty to three counts of second-degree murder, getting life in prison with no chance of parole for thirteen years for the slayings of the janitor Salvatore Alaimo, Papalia, and Barillaro.
When Murdock took the witness stand on June 16, 1999, to testify at the preliminary hearing of his former friends, the Musitano brothers looked at him from the prisoner’s dock with expressions of disdain. Pat and Angelo were each charged with one count of first-degree murder, and Angelo was also charged with the murder of Barillaro.
“I’ve known Ang since he was yay high,” Murdock testified in cross-examination by defence lawyer Dean Paquette. “You know, like this is the hardest thing for me to do right here. It’s tearing me apart inside because I do love these guys, in a sense.”
Then Murdock turned toward Pat and Angelo Musitano and asked, “Do you understand? Even though you don’t believe it. I know you’re hurt. I’m … hurt.”
Pat, thirty-two, shrugged and rolled his eyes while Angelo, twenty-two, shot a look to his mother, sister, brother, and several family supporters. The brothers might be disgusted at Murdock, but they knew they were caught, and pleaded guilty to conspiracy to murder Barillaro. They were both sentenced to ten years in jail.
See also: Carmen Barillaro; Angelo, Domenic, and Antonio Musitano; John “Johnny Pops” Papalia .
Musolino, Giuseppe “Joe”: Nasty Hairstyle – It was the tuft of hair standing up on his head that made him look just a little different as he held court in the Ward district of downtown Toronto, along York Street, near the courts of Osgoode Hall on Queen Street West.
The Joe Musolino of York Street was initiated into the Picciotteria crime group in November 1896 in a barracks on the outskirts of Santo Stefano d’Aspromonte in southern Italy, and the distinctive bouffant was the style preferred by criminals there.
Giuseppe “Joe” Musolino
Musolino’s family crime group was considered the forerunner of modern Calabrian organized crime, and was hit with massive police raids on May 12 and 13, 1901, in Santo Stefano d’Aspromonte. The crackdown meant that he would sooner or later end up in jail if he remained there, and so instead, Musolino chose to travel to North America in the hold of a ship.
Many of the Musolino group also fled Calabria for North America, and expanded the enterprises of the Picciotteria. First, Musolino ran a restaurant at 125 Eleventh Street in Niagara Falls, New York, and, not long after he arrived there, Italian immigrants in the Niagara Peninsula were hit with a flood of extortion letters.
Within a year, Musolino moved north to Toronto and the Italian district then on York Street, near modern-day Nathan Phillips Square. He remained an unknown figure outside the Italian immigrant community until his name surfaced when police in Toronto were investigating the murder of Francesco Scarrone (a.k.a. Tarro) on Front Street near Church Street in 1911. The man who killed Scarrone, Frank Griro, told police that he killed him because he was tired of having to pay Black Hand extortion demands.
“I decided that I would rather be hanged than shot to pieces,” Griro later said. On the body of the dead man, police found what they considered to be coded extortion letters from other Italian immigrants, one of which was from a young man in Cobalt named Rocco Perri. At the time, Rocco Perri’s name didn’t mean much, but within a decade he would be a public figure of sorts as Canada’s bootlegging king, based in Hamilton, Ontario.
Police were soon looking at Musolino, Scarrone’s boss, who held court in a restaurant–boarding house at 160 York Street, in the heart of the downtown district known as the Ward. There were no Italian officers on the Toronto police force then, and officers could not have been expected to know that significance of his distinctive, upward-curving hairstyle.
After the heat brought on by the Griro trial, Musolino told police he was willing to leave town and go to the United States, if he was given thirty days to clean up his business affairs and collect monies owed him. Told he was no longer welcome in the United States either, Musolino then said he would return to Italy. That was the last he was seen in Toronto.
See also: Black Hand, ’Ndrangheta, Rocco Perri, Picciotteria .
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