More than a year and a half after mobster Angelo Musitano was gunned down in the driveway of his Hamilton-area home, police say they have identified who they allege pulled off the hit – but not who ordered it.
In an effort to identify the masterminds behind the execution, amidst what investigators are calling a feud between organized crime groups across the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area, Hamilton Police have announced a $50,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of those responsible for the 39-year-old father of three’s murder.
"It looks like it’s going back and forth,” Homicide Detective Peter Thom said on Tuesday.
“Something major has to be resolved here, whether it’s done between the feuding parties or whether it’s done by arrests.”
The Musitano crime family is notorious in Hamilton. In the 1990s, Mr. Musitano and his older brother Pat were charged with first-degree murder for the deaths of Hamilton mob boss Johnny (Pops) Papalia and his associate Carmen Barillaro, both of whom were shot by hit man Ken Murdock.
The brothers pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit murder in Mr. Barillaro’s death, but the charges relating to Mr. Papalia’s murder were withdrawn as part of a plea deal. They were released from prison in 2006.
One month after Mr. Musitano was killed, Pat’s house was sprayed with bullets. That case remains unsolved, and police say the family has not co-operated.
These two cases are part of a larger spate of Mafia-style violence over the last three years – incidents that investigators are now starting to connect.
Antonio Nicaso, a Canadian organized-crime author and expert, says what we are witnessing is a power struggle that “all relates to the power vacuum left after [Montreal mob boss Vito] Rizzuto’s death.”
It is a turf war, he says, and a sign of unrest: “Generally speaking the Mafia is stronger when they don’t have to use violence."
On Monday, another Hamilton mobster – Domenico Violi, the self-described underboss of the Buffalo Todero family – was sentenced to eight years in prison for drug trafficking, the result of a multi-year RCMP investigation into organized crime and drug trafficking. On wiretaps that were filed in the Ontario Court of Justice in that case, Mr. Violi discussed the Musitano killing with a police agent, musing that Angelo’s death was a message to his older brother. He said in a conversation captured last fall that he was told Pat, too, would be gone before Christmas – that “that would be one headache out of the way.”
Earlier this year, police announced that they had linked the Musitano assassination with a shooting that took place in Woodbridge, Ont., just north of Toronto. Mila Barberi, 28, was killed when a masked gunman fired into the car that she was sitting in with her boyfriend, Saverio Serrano, in March, 2017. Mr. Serrano – the son of a notorious Canadian mob figure and cocaine importer – was the intended target of that hit, police say. He survived the shooting.
In September, after a joint investigation with York Regional Police and the RCMP, Hamilton Police announced that they had identified three people they allege were directly involved in both murders. Jabril Abdalla was arrested at his home in Hamilton. Warrants were issued for two other suspects – Michael Graham Cudmore and Daniel Mario Tomassetti – who police believe have fled to Mexico.
The three suspects were allegedly involved in a “sophisticated and well-organized surveillance scheme” that had targeted the shooting victims as well as their families and associates, Det. Thom said.
Now, investigators are working to gather evidence against the individuals who ordered Mr. Musitano’s execution – and hope the $50,000 reward will help draw out more clues.
The reward is also available to people who can help them track down Mr. Cudmore and Mr. Tomassetti, Det. Thom added.
“You never know what’s going to motivate people,” he said.