The closest Vincenzo “Jimmy” DeMaria, 66, came to freedom was the obstructed view from a police van window as he was driven from one prison to another as Canada now tries to deport him to Italy.
DeMaria won his plea for day parole from Collins Bay prison in Kingston, Ontario last week, but before he even had the chance to leave, Canadian Border Services Agency (CBSA) officers re-arrested him and drove him 200 miles east to the Central Ontario East Correctional Facility.
He has been placed in solitary confinement for 14 days of quarantine to comply with the protocol due to the current pandemic.
DeMaria’s parole may have been helped by concerns due to COVID-19, but Italy has been particularly hard hit by the disease, which may provide DeMaria a strong argument for not sending him back to a country he left as an infant.
The Canadian Immigration and Refugee Board are now conducting a detention review, with DeMaria arguing for release before a hearing on his Canadian status.
DeMaria’s 35-year history of fighting the authorities in courts and tribunals – and often winning – makes these sorts of hearings particularly lengthy.
His parole decision last week didn’t give DeMaria everything he wanted but did show the tenacity of his lawyer: “The board received your submission and the numerous submissions from your lawyer,” the parole board said, granting him day parole but denying his request for full parole.
DeMaria has chronic kidney problems, is a cancer survivor and regularly sees a specialist. This puts him in the high-risk category for COVID-19. “Your pre-existing health concerns must be taken into consideration,” the parole board said. DeMaria’s parole hearing focused on his involvement with the Mafia and his prior criminal record, which he has kept clean even during his previous years of freedom.
The parole board told DeMaria “You remain a high interest to policing authorities,” – which I doubt was news to him.
At the parole hearing, the board heard that in October, DeMaria’s younger brother, Giuseppe “Joe” DeMaria and two other men he knows were charged with Mafia association in Italy. These charges stemmed from an investigation in Italy and Canada of the ‘Ndrangheta clans of Calabria, southern Italy.
The arrested men had previously visited DeMaria in prison as recently as May and were on the list of approved visitors. The police did raise their concerns about this but the board said the Correctional Service of Canada still allowed the men to retain their visitation privileges.
Of course, at the hearing DeMaria denied any involvement in the Mafia or any type of organized crime.
The parole board also heard conflicting reports regarding DeMaria’s time behind bars. From his excellent behavior working as a cleaner in the health-care unit to another confidential report warning that “he runs the institution.”
DeMaria told the board that he just keeps to himself.
He is currently serving a life sentence for second-degree murder of a grocery clerk in Toronto in 1981. The clerk owed him money.
In 1992 he was released on parole. But due to the fact he had been given a life sentence, he remains on lifetime parole which gave the police many easy opportunities to drag him back behind bars for parole violations as they grew ever increasingly concerned about his power within the mafia.
DeMaria disputed every single parole violation and won on many occasions.
2013 was the last time he was returned to prison. As per usual he fought the allegations and managed to win himself a new hearing but he remained behind bars.
In 2018 he also fought his deportation. At Immigration hearings, he was named by police as “the top guy in Toronto” representing the ‘Ndrangheta, one of the world’s most powerful crime groups.
DeMaria never became a Canadian citizen despite having lived in Canada since before his first birthday.
At his parole hearing, DeMaria said that his parents always assumed they would return to Italy one day and so they did not want to renounce their Italian citizenship. Of course, once he had been convicted of murder, he knew any Canadian citizenship application he made would be denied.
Despite all the allegations and his history, the parole board deemed him a low risk to re-offend. They were impressed with his strong marriage and family support and the fact that he had used his time in prison to obtain his high school diploma and take some business college courses.
In 2018, the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada ordered DeMaria to be deported but he won his appeal to the Federal Court of Canada. Despite the judge finding “Strong suspicions” DeMaria was a mobster, he said these opinions and allegations needed to be backed up with evidence to justify deportation.
Canada Border Services Agency is now trying again to deport him. Agents were able to pick him up before he could leave prison on parole due to an immigration arrest warrant being placed in DeMaria’s prison file.
At his parole hearing, DeMaria said that he was expecting this to happen and vowed to fight, like he always does, to remain in Canada.