Nicola Rizzuto

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Not to be confused with Nicolo "Nick" Rizzuto Jr., his grandson, murdered in 2009.
Nicola "Nick" Rizzuto
Born Nicola Rizzuto
February 18, 1924
Cattolica Eraclea, Sicily, Italy
Died November 10, 2010(2010-11-10) (aged 86)
Montreal, Quebec, Canada
Cause of death Gunshot
Nationality Canadian Canada
Occupation Member of the Sicilian Mafia
Criminal charge tax evasion
Criminal penalty had to make payment of taxes owed ($628,000), was fined ($209,000) and received administrative penalties
Spouse(s) Libertina Manno
Children Vito Rizzuto, allegedly the godfather of the Sicilian Mafia.
Parent(s) Vito Rizzuto Sr.
Allegiance Rizzuto crime family
Motive Economic profit
Conviction(s) tax evasion

Nicola Rizzuto (February 18, 1924 – November 10, 2010), also known as Nick Rizzuto, was the leader of the Sicilian faction of the Rizzuto crime family in Montreal, Quebec and linked to the Bonanno crime family who later pushed out the Calabrian faction. Rizzuto was born in Cattolica Eraclea, Sicily, in 1924, and immigrated to Canada in 1954 when the family settled in Montreal.[1] Nick's son Vito Rizzuto, before his death on December 23, 2013, was allegedly the godfather of the Sicilian Mafia in Canada.

Early life[edit]

Rizzuto was born in Sicily in the town of Cattolica Eraclea. In 1925, his father Vito immigrated to the United States with his brother-in-law Calogero Renda and 4 others. Vito's wife stayed with her son Nicola in Sicily. In 1933, Vito was murdered in New York City by rival gangsters forcing Nicola to grow up with a stepfather. Nicola married into the mob by tying the knot to a girl named Libertina Manno, during the early 1940s, the daughter of a local Mafia leader.[2] In 1954, Nicola took his new family and settled in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. He was able to form his own crew with help from several other Sicilian relatives and associates living there.[1]

Rizzuto had ties to organized crime in Canada, the United States, Venezuela and Italy. He began his Mafia career in Canada as an associate of the Cotroni crime family that controlled much of Montreal's drug trade in the 1970s while answering to the Bonanno crime family of New York. He was, however, more closely linked to the Sicilian Mafia, in particular the Cuntrera-Caruana Mafia clan, who came from the same region in the province of Agrigento.[3]

Mob war[edit]

Rizzuto did not care much about the formal and ceremonial command lines in the Cotroni family, who were of Calabrian origin. Paolo Violi complained about the independent modus operandi of his Sicilian 'underlings', Nick Rizzuto in particular. "He is going from one side to the other, here and there, and he says nothing to nobody, he is doing business and nobody knows anything," Violi said about Rizzuto. Violi asked for more 'soldiers' from his Bonanno bosses, clearly preparing for war, and Violi's boss at the time, Vincent Cotroni remarked: "After all, I am 'capo decina', I have the right to expel him."[3]

By the 1980s, the Rizzutos emerged as the city's pre-eminent Mafia crew after a turf war between the Montreal family's Sicilian and Calabrian factions. Rizzuto allegedly participated in the murder in 1978 of Paolo Violi, a Bonanno soldier who had been named acting boss of Montreal's family. He allegedly replaced the late Vic Cotroni as the clearinghouse for heroin entering Canada and the United States.

Legal problems[edit]

Rizzuto was arrested on November 23, 2006.[4] Before the arrest, Rizzuto appeared to be immune to police investigations in Canada. But he did serve five years in prison in Venezuela between 1988 and 1993 after being convicted of cocaine possession. An undercover Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) officer was later informed that Rizzuto was paroled early after an associate of the family delivered an CND$800,000 bribe to Venezuelan officials. October 16, 2008 Rizzuto was released from prison.

On February 11, 2010, Nicola Rizzuto entered a guilty plea to tax evasion charges. The charges stem from a Canada Revenue Agency investigation for the tax years 1994 and 1995. Nicola Rizzuto was accused of failing to declare the interest earned on more than 5 million dollars deposited in three Swiss bank accounts. The Court ordered Rizzuto that in addition to almost $628,000 in taxes owed, Rizzuto pay a $209,000 fine plus and administrative penalties.[5]


On November 10, 2010, Rizzuto was killed at his residence in the Cartierville borough of Montreal when a single bullet from a sniper's rifle punched through two layers of glass in the rear patio doors of his Montreal mansion. His death is believed to be the final blow against the Rizzuto crime family.[1][6][7]


Rizzuto had two grandsons by his son Vito and his wife Giovanna Cammalleri, Leonardo Rizzuto and Nicola "Nick" Rizzuto Jr.. On December 28, 2009, Nick Rizzuto Jr. was shot and killed near his car in Notre-Dame-de-Grâce, a borough in Montreal.[8][9][10] Paolo Renda, Nicola's son-in-law, disappeared on May 20, 2010, and is presumed to have been kidnapped.[11] A month later Agostino Cuntrera, who was believed to have taken control of the family, was killed together with his bodyguard on June 30, 2010.[12][13]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c Hit 'signals war', National Post, November 9, 2010
  2. ^
  3. ^ a b The Rothschilds of the Mafia on Aruba, by Tom Blickman, Transnational Organized Crime, Vol. 3, No. 2, Summer 1997
  4. ^ Mob takes a hit, The Montreal Gazette, November 23, 2006
  5. ^ Rizzuto clan head pleads guilty to tax evasion, CBC News, February 11, 2010
  6. ^ (French) Nicola Rizzuto assasiné
  7. ^ (French) Nicola Rizzuto assasiné (Radio-Canada)
  8. ^ "Mobster's son slain in street", National Post, December 29, 2009 (accessed December 29, 2009)
  9. ^ Nicolò Rizzuto: Mafia boss who rose to become head of Canada’s largest crime syndicate, The Independent Obituary, 16 November 2010
  10. ^ "Who was Nick Rizzuto Jr.?", The Montreal Gazette, December 28, 2009 (accessed December 29, 2009)
  11. ^ Kiss of death for Montreal's Rizzuto clan?, The Montreal Gazette, May 22, 2010
  12. ^ Two slain in St. Leonard shootout, The Montreal Gazette, June 30, 2010
  13. ^ Major change in Montreal Mafia: Experts, The Montreal Gazette, June 30, 2010

External links[edit]