Vincenzo Cotroni

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Vincenzo Cotroni
Vic Cotroni.jpeg
Born
Vincenzo Cotrone

1911
DiedSeptember 16, 1984(1984-09-16) (aged 72–73)
Resting placeNotre Dame des Neiges Cemetery, Côte-des-Neiges–Notre-Dame-de-Grâce, Montreal
NationalityItalian
Other namesVic, "The Egg"
CitizenshipCanadian
OccupationCrime boss
Spouse(s)
Maria Bresciano (m. 1928)
Children2
Parent(s)Nicodemo Cotroni
RelativesFrank Cotroni (brother)
Dino Bravo (nephew-in-law)
AllegianceCotroni crime family,
Bonanno crime family
Conviction(s)Extortion (1975)
Criminal penaltySix years' imprisonment; served six months on appeal

Vincenzo "Vic" Cotroni (born Vincenzo Cotrone;[1] Italian: [vinˈtʃɛntso koˈtroːne]; 1911 – September 16, 1984), also known as "The Egg", was an Italian-Canadian crime boss of the Cotroni crime family in Montreal, Quebec.

Cotroni was born in 1911, in Mammola, Calabria, Italy. In 1924, he immigrated to Montreal, Quebec, Canada. In his early life, he worked as a professional wrestler under the name "Vic Vincent". By the age of 20 Cotroni had accumulated a lengthy record of minor offenses, bootlegging with local bootlegger Armand Courville. In 1928, Cotroni was charged with rape against Maria Bresciano. The charge was dropped when Maria agreed to marry him in May 1928, and later had a child, Rosina.

Throughout his life, Cotroni kept a low profile. In 1974, Cotroni was subpoenaed to stand before a Quebec government commission inquiry into organized crime and was jailed for one year for contempt. The following year, Cotroni and his capodecina Paolo Violi, along with Hamilton, Ontario mobster Johnny Papalia, were convicted of extortion and sentenced to six years in prison; Cotroni's sentence was later reduced on appeal to just six months. In the late 1970s, Cotroni transferred the day-to-day activities of the family to Violi together with his brother Frank, Nicolas Dilorio, and Luigi Greco. As tension grew with power struggle between the Calabrian and Sicilian factions led by Nicolo Rizzuto, a mob war began. The war resulted in the murder of Violi in 1978, as well as his brothers, as the Sicilian Rizzuto crime family emerged as the preeminent crime family in Montreal by the early 1980s. On September 16, 1984, Cotroni died of cancer.

Early life[edit]

Cotroni was born in 1911, in Mammola, Calabria, Italy. In 1924, he immigrated to Montreal, Quebec, Canada with his two sisters, Marguerita and Palmina, and his brother Giuseppe; his two other brothers, Frank and Michel, were later born in Montreal.[2] Cotroni grew up in a house at the junction of Ontario and St. Timotheé streets in Montreal, in a poor neighborhood that more affluent Italian immigrants avoided because of its high crime rate.[3] His father, Nicodemo, was a carpenter whose average weekly income was $35 dollars.[3] Rather than attend school, he worked briefly as a carpenter and then as a professional wrestler under the name "Vic Vincent".[4][5] Cotroni became a Canadian citizen in 1929.[2]

Criminal career[edit]

By the age of 20, Cotroni had accumulated a lengthy record of minor offenses, bootlegging with local bootlegger Armand Courville. The charges included theft, possession of counterfeit money, illegal sale of alcohol, assault and battery.[4][6] In 1928, Cotroni was charged with rape against Maria Bresciano, but the charge was dropped when Maria agreed to marry him in May 1928, and later had a child, Rosina.[2][4] In 1942, Cotroni bought a bar and nightclub with Courville.[4]

Cotroni had become involved in organized crime in the late 1920s, and in the 1930s was involved in "baseball bat elections" where he served as "muscle" for the Quebec Liberal Party and the Union Nationale, beating up supporters of rival parties and stuffing ballot boxes.[7] As a result of Cotroni's work in "baseball bat elections", the Cotroni family enjoyed the protection of Quebec politicians for decades afterwards.[8][6] Cotroni was uncle by marriage to professional wrestler Dino Bravo, believed by authorities to be involved in his organization for some time.[9]

In 1953, Carmine "Lilo" Galante, an influential member of the New York-based Bonanno crime family, arrived in Montreal and worked with Cotroni. Galante planned to make Montreal a pivotal location in the importation of heroin from over seas for distribution in New York City and across the United States in the French Connection. Police also estimated that Galante was collecting gambling profits in Montreal worth about $50 million per year.[10] In April 1956, due to Galante's strong-arm extortion tactics, the Canadian Government deported him back to the United States.[11]

By the 1960s, Cotroni owned a limousine, a duplex in Rosemont and a brand new home in Lavaltrie. The house featured marble floors, a large conference room, a walk-in industrial sized refrigerator, a built-in movie screen, six bathrooms, and crystal chandeliers. Cotroni also donated large sums of money to Montreal churches and charities, and later fathered a second child—this time, a son, Nicodemo, named after his father, with his French-Canadian mistress.[12]

Cotroni kept a low profile, and when a 1963 Maclean's magazine referred to him as the "godfather" of Montreal in one of their articles, Cotroni, with lawyer Jean-Paul Ste. Marie, sued the magazine company for $1.25 million in damages. The judge concluded that Cotroni's reputation was "tainted" and only awarded him an insulting $2: one dollar for the English version of Maclean's and another for the French version.[13]

In the 1960s and 70s, Cotroni used associate William "Obie" Obront to supervise a bookmaking network in the Ottawa-Hull area that handled around $50,000 in bets per day, with 25 percent going to Paolo Violi.[14] Obie also served as Cotroni chief banker and financial adviser, responsible for laundering money.[14] For Montreal's Expo 67, Obie also helped the Cotronis land the meat and vending machine supply contract—most of which was tainted meat.[15]

Decline[edit]

In the early 1970s, Cotroni transferred the day-to-day activities of the family to his Calabrian compatriot Paolo Violi, a capodecina together with Nicolas Di Iorio, Frank Cotroni and Luigi Greco.[16][17] Cotroni's role became more that of an adviser to the younger Calabrian.[18][19] Greco led the Sicilian faction of the family until his death in 1972.[20][21]

As tension then grew into a power struggle between the Calabrian and Sicilian factions of the family, a mob war began in 1973.[22] Violi complained about the independent modus operandi of his Sicilian 'underlings', Nicolo 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, Vic Cotroni remarked: "Me, I'm capodecina. I got the right to expel."[22]

In 1974, Cotroni was subpoenaed to stand before the Quebec government's Commission d'enquête sur le crime organisé (CECO) inquiry into organized crime. He was sent to jail for one year on a contempt charge because his testimony, the Commission concluded, was "deliberately incomprehensible; rambling, vague, and nebulous".[23] His lawyer eventually won a reversal but only after Cotroni had spent several months behind bars. Later that year, Cotroni and Paolo Violi were over-heard on a police wiretap threatening to kill Hamilton mobster Johnny Papalia and demanding $150,000 after he used their names in a $300,000 extortion plot without notifying or cutting them in on the score.[24] The three were convicted of extortion in 1975 and sentenced to six years in prison. Cotroni and Violi got their sentences appealed to just six months, but Papalia's was rejected.[25]

On January 22, 1978, Violi was murdered under Rizzuto orders while Rizzuto was in Venezuela.[26][27] Violi's brothers were also murdered. By the mid 1980s, the Rizzuto crime family emerged as Montreal's pre-eminent crime family after the turf war.[28]

Death[edit]

The Calabrian faction continued to operate with Frank Cotroni, who had been imprisoned from 1975 to 1979,[29] as acting boss for his ill brother after the early 1980s. Cotroni died of cancer on September 16, 1984.[30] Frank was left as boss.[31] The procession from the Church of the Madonna della Difesa to Notre Dame des Neiges Cemetery was made up of some 45 vehicles, 23 of them laden with wreaths and floral tributes, a 17-piece brass band, about 300 people, including members of his family and associates.[32][30]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Auger and Edwards The Encyclopedia of Canadian Organized Crime p.63.
  2. ^ a b c "Le parrain discret: vie et carrière de Vincenzo Cotroni" (in French). quebec.huffingtonpost.ca. 14 September 2014.
  3. ^ a b Auger and Edwards The Encyclopedia of Canadian Organized Crime p.62.
  4. ^ a b c d Schneider, Iced: The Story of Organized Crime in Canada, pp. 245
  5. ^ La filière canadienne : Le grand classique de l'histoire du crime au Québec. Jean-Pierre Charbonneau p. 41
  6. ^ a b La filière canadienne, p. 42
  7. ^ Auger and Edwards The Encyclopedia of Canadian Organized Crime p.63.
  8. ^ Auger and Edwards The Encyclopedia of Canadian Organized Crime p.63.
  9. ^ "Dino Bravo". Wrestling Observer Newsletter. March 22, 1993.
  10. ^ Auger and Edwards The Encyclopedia of Canadian Organized Crime p.63.
  11. ^ Capeci, Jerry (2004). The complete idiot's guide to the Mafia (2nd ed.). Indianapolis, IN: Alpha Books. ISBN 1-59257-305-3.
  12. ^ L'attentat, p. 159
  13. ^ Schneider, Iced: The Story of Organized Crime in Canada, pp. 254
  14. ^ a b Schneider, Iced: The Story of Organized Crime in Canada, pp. 262
  15. ^ Schneider, Iced: The Story of Organized Crime in Canada, pp. 264
  16. ^ Auger and Edwards The Encyclopedia of Canadian Organized Crime p.195.
  17. ^ L'atentat, p. 65
  18. ^ La Presse, 1er décembre 1973
  19. ^ Idem, p. 63
  20. ^ Lamothe, Lee. Humphreys, Adrian. The Sixth Family: The Collapse of the New York Mafia and the Rise of Vito Rizzuto. pg.27–29
  21. ^ Manning, George A, PH.D Financial Investigation and Forensic Accounting pg.214–215
  22. ^ a b "The man they call the Canadian Godfather". National Post. February 26, 2001. Retrieved 19 May 2017.
  23. ^ "How a 1970s inquiry exposed mobsters and educated Quebeckers". theglobeandmail.com. 15 December 2010.
  24. ^ "The shot heard around the underworld". Ottawa Citizen. 7 June 1998. Retrieved 8 December 2016.
  25. ^ Schneider, Iced: The Story of Organized Crime in Canada, pp. 326
  26. ^ Idem, p. 69
  27. ^ "The man they call the Canadian Godfather". National Post. February 26, 2001. Retrieved 19 May 2017.
  28. ^ Lamothe & Humphreys, The Sixth Family, p.308
  29. ^ "Frank Cotroni dies of cancer". Canadian Press. 21 August 2004. Retrieved 29 May 2017.
  30. ^ a b Schneider, Iced: The Story of Organized Crime in Canada, pp. 280
  31. ^ FBI linked Montreal mobster to alleged U.S. assassination plot Archived 2012-11-07 at the Wayback Machine, CanWest News Service, July 10, 2007
  32. ^ "The passing of a godfather". macleans.ca. October 1, 1984.