Vincenzo Cotroni

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Vincenzo Cotroni
Vic Cotroni.jpeg
Vincenzo "Vic" Cotroni
Born 1911
Mammola, Calabria, Italy
Died September 16, 1984
Montreal, Quebec, Canada
Cause of death Cancer
Other names Vic, "The Egg"
Occupation Mobster, bar owner
Spouse(s) Maria Bresciano
Children Rosina Cotroni
Allegiance Cotroni crime family,
Bonanno crime family,
Liberal Party

Vincenzo "Vic" Cotroni (1911 – September 16, 1984), also known as "The Egg", was a Montreal-based caporegime of the Cotroni crime family, considered a branch of the Bonanno crime family.

Biography[edit]

Early life[edit]

Vincenzo Cotroni (Americanized as Vincent Cotroni) was born in 1911 in Mammola, Calabria, Italy. In 1924, he immigrated to Montreal, Quebec, Canada with his family. Rather than attend school, he worked briefly as a carpenter and then as a professional wrestler under the name "Vic Vincent".[1]

Cotroni found his true calling as a criminal - a path his brothers Giuseppe and Frank Cotroni would also follow - by the age of twenty, and 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.[2]

Mobster and Montreal's boss[edit]

"The Egg", as he was sometimes called, was also charged with the rape of Maria Bresciano but the charges were dropped and the alleged victim became Cotroni's wife.[3] She would stay loyally by his side until her death.

While he was already an extremely successful and politically connected individual in Montreal's underworld, Cotroni's biggest opportunity came when Carmine "Lilo" Galante, an influential member of the New York based Bonanno crime family, arrived in Montreal in 1953. 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. Galante also demanded a "street tax" from gambling houses, night clubs, after-hours lounges, prostitutes, and abortionists.[4][5]

Cotroni became a close associate to the feared Bonanno mobster and would eventually become godfather to one of Galante's children. When Salvatore "Little Sal" Giglio, the Bonanno gangster who was responsible for the Bonanno Family's interests in Canada, was deported after police found 240 illegal Cuban cigars and 880 American cigarettes on him that had not been declared, Cotroni was bestowed the important position.

In 1957, due to Galante's strong-arm extortion tactics, the Canadian Government deported him back to the United States.[6]

In the 1960s, the Montreal Godfather, who never learned to read or write, was riding high and enjoying life. He owned a limousine, a duplex in Rosemont and a brand new home in Lavaltrie. The house featured marvellous marble floors, an enormous conference room, a walk-in industrial sized refrigerator, a built-in movie screen, six bathrooms, and expensive crystal chandeliers. Vic Cotroni also donated large sums of money to Montreal churches and charities, and was the father of two children; a daughter with his wife Maria and a son with his French-Canadian mistress.[7]

Cotroni liked to keep a low profile and didn't appreciate when Maclean's, an informative Canadian magazine referred to him as the "godfather" of Montreal in one of their articles. Cotroni, with lawyer Jean-Paul Ste. Marie, sued the magazine 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.[8]

In the late 1960s, the Cotronis had violent feuds with French-Canadian mobster Richard Blass, with Cotroni associate Joe Di Maulo doing much of the enforcing.[9]

Activities and decline[edit]

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".[10] 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.[11] 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.[12]

In the late 1970s, Cotroni transferred the day-to-day activities of the family to his Calabrian compatriot Paolo Violi, a capodecina together with Nicolas Dilorio, Frank Cotroni and Luigi Greco.[13] Cotroni's role became more that of an adviser to the younger Calabrian.[14][15]

As tension grew with power struggle between the Calabrian and Sicilian factions of the family, a mob war began.[16] 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."[16] On January 22, 1978, Paolo Violi, Cotroni's heir to the throne, was assassinated by the family's Sicilian faction led by Rizzuto. Cotroni remained sheltered in his Lavaltrie home for weeks after the murder as he had most likely approved the hit on Violi.[17][18] By the 1980s, the Rizzutos emerged as Montreal's pre-eminent Mafia crew after the turf war.

Death[edit]

Vincenzo Cotroni, the old-fashioned Mafia Don who built a powerful criminal organization and accumulated a vast fortune, died of cancer on September 16, 1984 at the age of 73.

His funeral featured floral arrangements on twenty-three cars and a seventeen-piece brass band. It rained as his coffin was lowered into the ground and many mourned the passing of this "man of respect".[19]

Personal life[edit]

Cotroni had three brothers, Frank, Giuseppe and Michael, also involved with the Mafia and drug trafficking. He was spoused with Maria Bresciano, whom he had a daughter with, Rosina Cotroni.

Cotroni was a strong supporter of the Liberal Party and became a political organizator during the electoral campaigns. He was then known to engage "bouncers" who were responsible for getting votes out, serve as bodyguards for some candidates and sometimes, disrupt meetings of political opponents.[2]

He was an uncle by marriage to professional wrestler Dino Bravo, believed by authorities to be involved in his organization for some time.[20]

Frank Cotroni died of cancer on August 17, 2004.[21]

References[edit]

  1. ^ La filière canadienne : Le grand classique de l'histoire du crime au Québec. Jean-Pierre Charbonneau p. 41
  2. ^ a b La filière canadienne, p. 42
  3. ^ Schneider, Iced: The Story of Organized Crime in Canada, pp. 245
  4. ^ Idem, p. 289
  5. ^ "Legends of the Morgeti: Before Nicolo Rizzutto". morgeti.blogspot.com. Retrieved 2014-02-13. 
  6. ^ Capeci, Jerry (2004). The complete idiot's guide to the Mafia (2nd ed.). Indianapolis, IN: Alpha Books. ISBN 1-59257-305-3. 
  7. ^ L'attentat, p. 159
  8. ^ Schneider, Iced: The Story of Organized Crime in Canada, pp. 254
  9. ^ Schneider, Iced: The Story of Organized Crime in Canada, pp. 270
  10. ^ "How a 1970s inquiry exposed mobsters and educated Quebeckers". theglobeandmail.com. 15 December 2010. 
  11. ^ "The shot heard around the underworld". Ottawa Citizen. 7 June 1998. Retrieved 8 December 2016. 
  12. ^ Schneider, Iced: The Story of Organized Crime in Canada, pp. 326
  13. ^ L'atentat, p. 65
  14. ^ La Presse, 1er décembre 1973
  15. ^ Idem, p. 63
  16. ^ a b "The man they call the Canadian Godfather". National Post. February 26, 2001. Retrieved 19 May 2017. 
  17. ^ Idem, p. 69
  18. ^ "The man they call the Canadian Godfather". National Post. February 26, 2001. Retrieved 19 May 2017. 
  19. ^ Geocities
  20. ^ "Dino Bravo". Wrestling Observer Newsletter. March 22, 1993. 
  21. ^ Alleged crime boss Cotroni buried in Montreal, CTV News, August 22, 2004