Two years after the murder of his younger brother, Hamilton mobster Pat Musitano was shot multiple times outside his lawyer’s Mississauga office Thursday.
It was around 7 a.m. that emergency crews were called to a parking lot of a commercial office complex. Although police have not publicly identified the victim, a lawyer in the complex said he was told it was Mr. Musitano.
Shahid Malik said Mr. Musitano was there to see his lawyer Joseph Irving (who shares an office space with Mr. Malik) when he was shot.
“It’s very unsettling, very unnerving,” Mr. Malik said, adding that while he knew of Mr. Musitano, he had not met him personally. Mr. Irving did not answer the phone at his office Thursday and his voice mailbox was full.
As investigators combed the taped-off parking lot and began collecting surveillance footage from offices and businesses in the commercial complex, a black GMC Denali SUV in the lot was towed away by police for forensic examination. By Thursday evening, police said the victim remained in life-threatening condition.
The shooting is the latest in a string of Mafia-related violence in and around the Greater Toronto Area over the last several years – activities that have exposed Hamilton as an epicentre of organized crime.
There, the Musitano name carries great weight. In the 1990s, Pat and his younger brother Angelo were charged with first-degree murder for the deaths of Hamilton mob boss Johnny “Pops” Papalia and his underboss 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. The charges relating to Mr. Papalia’s murder were withdrawn as part of a plea deal.
The Musitano brothers were released from prison in 2006 and managed to stay out of the limelight until Pat’s SUV was set on fire in his east-end Hamilton driveway in 2015.
In May, 2017, Angelo was shot and killed in the driveway of his home in suburban Waterdown, Ont., while his family waited inside.
One month later, Pat’s home was sprayed with bullets.
Police have charged one man in Angelo’s murder and warrants are out for two others who are believed to have fled to Mexico. Police have said these three are believed to have been hired hit men and they are still investigating who ordered the killing.
A recent cross-border Mafia takedown led by the RCMP, known as Project OPhoenix, provided a glimpse into the current state of the underworld. According to court documents filed in that case, a member of a rival Hamilton-based crime family was speaking with a police agent about Angelo Musitano’s murder in September, 2017.
When the police agent expressed surprise that Pat hadn’t been killed first, Domenico Violi, 52 – a local hardwood floor and pasta salesman who had also recently been made underboss of Buffalo’s Todaro crime family – mused that it was a message to Pat and noted that Pat was now in hiding. Mr. Violi told the agent that he was told that Pat would be gone before Christmas and that “that would be one headache out of the way.”
Mr. Violi’s cousin, Cece Luppino, was gunned down in front of his own family’s home in January.
Antonio Nicaso, a Canadian author and expert on organized crime, said this latest shooting is yet another sign of the continuing power struggle that has plagued the Ontario and Quebec underworld since the death of Montreal Mafia boss Vito Rizzuto in 2013. The Musitano family were allies of the Rizzutos.
“When the Rizzutos were in power the Musitanos … were on the right side of the power,” Mr. Nicaso said. But since the death of Mr. Rizzuto, they have lost that protection. Until the void left by Mr. Rizzuto is filled, Mr. Nicaso says “there will be always violence.”