It seems the gangland killing of former Bonanno crime family boss Salvatore Montagna has been solved. Yesterday, at the courthouse in Laval, Quebec, six men pleaded guilty to a reduced charge of taking part in the conspiracy to murder Montagna after he sought to take control of the Mafia in Montreal.
The six men - Vittorio Mirarchi (38); Jack Simpson (73); Calogero Milioto (44); Pietro Magistrale (64); Steven Fracas (31); and Steven D’Addario (38) — admitted their role in the conspiracy to kill Montagna, who was shot dead on November 24, 2011. The alleged leader of these men, 62-year-old Montreal crime boss Raynald Desjardins, had already pleaded guilty to the conspiracy last year.
Author and former RCMP intelligence analyst Pierre de Champlain thinks the guilty pleas are in the mob’s best interest. “In the world of the mafia when Mafiosi are caught by police, they usually do not elect to face trial but rather choose to plead guilty,” he explains to Gangsters Inc. “This in order to preserve the law of secrecy within the organization - not to be confused with omertà though. In October 2008, when the administration of the Rizzuto organization was about to face a trial, they all pleaded guilty as well.”
When looking at both prosecutors and defendants, De Champlain thinks these plea deals work out well for both parties. “I suspect that the deal that the defense and the Crown reached yesterday is a good deal that pleases both parties. The accused originally charged with first degree murder have agreed to plead to a lesser charge, that one of conspiracy to murder Montagna.”
While the defendants plead to a lesser charge and get to maintain a level of secrecy, the prosecution scores a similar win. Not only do they get their guilty pleas that sees the defendants in prison, but De Champlain explains, they also manage to keep their cards hidden.
“Had the accused chose to face trial for murder, the defense would have been tough on the Crown (prosecution) in order to force her to divulge how the RCMP was able to decipher the coded conversations between Desjardins and his accomplices. And I don’t think the Crown and the RCMP would want to explain this in court,” De Champlain concludes.
Desjardins started out as a partner-in-crime of “Sal the Ironworker” Montagna - read a profile of Salvatore Montagna here. Both men had set their eyes on becoming boss of the underworld in Montreal after the Rizzuto crime family became severely weakened by the imprisonment of its leader Vito Rizzuto in the United States and the subsequent round of indictments aimed at other prominent figures in the organization.
Montagna arrived in Montreal in 2009 after U.S. authorities deported him. In New York, Montagna was the leader of the Bonanno crime family, one of the city’s five Mafia families, and he was eager to achieve that same status in Montreal as he began to make his presence felt among local mobsters.
According to the Montreal Gazette, “Police sources described Montagna as someone who was perceived as an aggressive outsider among Montreal’s underworld. In what some believed was an attempt to help establish his credibility among the city’s underworld, Montagna appeared to have reached an agreement with Desjardins (who was once considered Vito Rizzuto’s right-hand man) and Joseph Di Maulo (Desjardins’s brother-in-law) to act as a consortium.”
As the Rizzuto clan’s power continued to dwindle, the two mobsters seemed on their way to success, but a failed attempt on Desjardin’s life in September of 2011 apparently set in motion an internecine struggle which ended with the murder of Montagna two months later.
The six men are scheduled to be sentenced in June.
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