Montreal mafia boss Vito Rizzuto had plenty of scores to settle upon his release from a Colorado prison and return to Montreal after the attack on his crime family. The Rizzuto crime family was attacked by a break away faction looking to take control of the Montreal underworld prompting a Montreal Mafia war. The mob war lead to more then 40 murders of mobsters and associates in Montreal, Toronto, Italy, and even Mexico. Some of those murders were part of a revenge plot launched by Vito Rizzuto before his death from apparent lung cancer.
Secret wire taps capture some of that revenge plot as the former Montreal godfather summoned some of his top henchmen to secret meetings in the Dominican Republic and Cuba to plan his revenge. Mobsters who decided to not accept the invitation from the long time mob boss were among the first to be targeted. Wiretaps being played in court for the murder trial of Juan Ramon Fernandez in Italy are now shedding new light of these events.
Fernandez was a close associate of the former Rizzuto family loyalists Raynald Desjardins who is believed to have been one of the leaders of the break away faction. Police in Italy were wiretapping all of his phone conversations at the time. The first wiretap recording captures him telling an unidentified person “It’s like the saying goes — when the cat’s away the mice will play,” talking about those disloyal to Rizzuto while he was in prison in the US , “But mice can only dance for a while, because they’re small,” he added regarding the power Rizzuto still maintained now that he was out.
“Juan Fernandez (right) meets with Giuseppe Carbone”
Months before Rizzuto was to be released he had his friends planning the trips where he would meet privately with his senior members about the attacks which led to deaths of his son and father. Another wiretap conversation captures Fernandez talking to a man identified as Frank Campoli a Toronto businessman with links to the Rizzuto’s saying the mafia boss had plans in works for a trip to Cuba on Nov. 22 and asked Fernandez if he would attend in which Fernandez said “Yes, I’ll come, I’ll come,”.
After that call ended Fernandez immediately makes a call to a friend in Tornoto identified as Rosario Staffiere owner of a local lemo service and explained the previous conversation to him. “He wanted to put me to the test,” Fernandez said. “He wanted to know if I still want to see him [Rizzuto], and I said ‘Yes, of course.’” and then he laughs and says “Take a shot in the f—ing head? Of course I’m going to see him.” The day Rizzuto was released he again speaks to Mr Campoli asking how Rizzuto was in which Campoli replies “I don’t know where the hell he went,” answered Mr. Campoli. “He didn’t want to be seen with anyone right now, know what I mean?”
Days later a three way call is captured between a man referred to as “Number one” which Italian authorities say was Vito Rizzuto. “Ray?” Rizzuto asked, using Fernandez’s nickname. “How are you?” but a bad connection lead to every having to keep asking if the others could hear them. “I can’t hear s—,” said Fernandez. “I feel far away,” said Rizzuto. as the connection continues to fade. The violence would begin in Quebec not long after this conversation takes place.
A month after Rizzuto was released and two weeks after his trip to Cuba veteran Quebec mobster Joseph Di Maulo is murdered gunned down in cold blood in his driveway. This hit is seen as the first strike back from Rizzuto against his enemies. Fernandez hears of the murder and immediately calls Montreal asking about the hit. He speaks to a man identified as Antonio Carbone a close mob associate. Carbone tells Fernandez that Rizzuto’s opponents are now afraid and are in hiding and weating bulletproof vests and riding in armored cars. “The important ones are hiding,” Mr. Carbone said. “A few big names will soon feel…” he said, with his words trailing off.
The two men then begin to note several people who were Rizzuto opponents and linked to the Montreal Mafia that included Tony Mucci who was long believed to be a senior member of the Montreal Mafia, Tony Magi a construction megnate in Montreal, Moreno Gallo a known long time mafiosi, and Raynald Desjardins the brother-n-law of Di Maulo and former Rizzuto loyalists.
The Di Maulo murder worries Fernandez because both men are close to Desjardins who was by now identified as one of the leaders of the rebel faction attacking the Rizzuto’s. Fernendez decided not to meet with Rizzuto and tries to reach out to a member of the Rizzuto family inner circle Rocco Sollecito but the call is declined. After missing his meeting with Rizzuto the tone of Fernandez when speaking with friends of the godfather clearly changes. When asked by Mr Carbone why he missed the Rizzuto meeting Fernandez replies “No, no, I’m busy. I’m busy, Antonio,” then Carone says “You’re busy, huh?” and Fernandez again replies “Yes, f—, yes, busy.”.
A second invite to a meeting with Rizzuto is sent to Fernandez this time down in Mexico but again he makes excuses as to why he can’t attend. On Jan, 2013 Fernandez again speaks to Carbone about Rizzuto then referring to him as “The tall guy”. Carbone says during conversation “He left for the Republic, as they call it, Dominican Republic,” said Mr. Carbone. Then Fernandez asks “Who’s there? The tall guy?” in which Carbone responds “Yes”.
Three months after that phone call Fernandez was murder in Sicily. Men arrested for his murder are now on trial in Palermo and these wiretaps are being presented as evidence to Fernandez’s links to the mafia in Canada. These wiretaps offer a very unique glimpse into the Vito Rizzuto revenge plot and the bloody Montreal mafia war. Pietro Scaduto and Salvatore Scaduto brothers are both charged with the murder of Fernandez.
“Juan Ramon Fernandez, left, and Fernando Pimentel on their last day alive. The pair were caught on police surveillance video on their way to a meeting where court heard they were ambushed, shot and their bodies burned.”
Mr Gallo was later killed in Mexico a month before Vito Rizzuto passed away. Head of Palermo’s Carabinieri ROS said the level of violence in the Montreal mafia war was astounding. Things are seemingly quieted down for now but many still wonder if old scores remain to be settled and more blood shed is planned as the plot for revenge set forth by Rizzuto is still to be carried out by his loyalists.