Municipal engineers admitted that they had gone on golf trips in the Dominican Republic with Mr. Rizzuto. Police surveillance operations recorded how constructions bosses regularly went to a Rizzuto hangout, the Cosenza Social Club, to bring cash.
His influence reached beyong Quebec. Detective Constable Mike Amato of York Regional Police testified at the inquiry that Mr. Rizzuto also acted as a peacemaker between feuding Mafia groups in Ontario, Constable Amato said. “You have a leader of a criminal enterprise that operates in another province, that can travel to Ontario, and has influence in our province, and could settle some disputes.”
Police affidavits said Mr. Rizzuto was a man who, on paper, didn’t even own a car or a credit card and whose only declared income was as a shareholder of a construction firm with modest revenue – yet he was seen driving sports cars and travelling to St. Kitts or the Bahamas.
He didn’t try to hide that he was a mobster. In May, 2003, he was driving away from a nightclub with some underlings when a Montreal police patroller, Constable Mitchell Janhevich, stopped his car.
“Do you know who I am?” Mr. Rizzuto asked. When Constable Janhevich stood his ground, Mr. Rizzuto smiled and later told him, “I like the way you handled my men. I handle them the same way.”
Then, the New York killings came back to trip him. In New York, a police crackdown against the leaders of the Bonnanos led some Mafiosos to turn informant and incriminate others, including Mr. Rizzuto. He was arrested in 2004. By the time he was extradited two years later, even Mr. Massino was co-operating with the authorities.
Clad in a prison-issue T-shirt and khaki pants, the once-dapper Mr. Rizzuto appeared in a Brooklyn court in 2007 and admitted to a role in the triple killing. He was sentenced to five years.
At the same time, Italy’s anti-Mafia police also issued an arrest warrant for him, alleging that he tried to invest $6.4-million in laundered money in a project to build a bridge in Messina, between Sicily and the mainland.
While he sat in a Colorado penitentiary, his clan was battered by police arrests and assassinations at the hands of rivals trying to wrestle control of his rackets. His elder son, Nicolo Jr., was shot dead outside his office. Then his father was fatally struck by a sniper as he sat in the family kitchen. Mr. Renda, his brother-in-law and family consigliere, was kidnapped and never seen again.
But the usurpers began fighting among themselves. In October of last year, Mr. Rizzuto came home and a series of settling of accounts began. When he left for a vacation in the Dominican Republic last January, observers saw it as a sign that he was now in control again.
His death was unexpected, the first man in four generations of his family to die of natural causes (other reports spoke of lung problems and pneumonia).
“It was news no one was expecting,” Mr. De Champlain said. “I would have been less surprised if I had been told that Vito Rizzuto had been assassinated in a Montreal street.”
Mr. Rizzuto leaves his wife, Giovanna Cammelleri, a son, Leonardo, and a daughter, Libertina, both lawyers.