Vito Rizzuto Term Paper

Excerpt from Term Paper :

alleged Montreal Mafia leader Vito Rizzuto. A brief biography of Rizzuto will be presented, Rizzuto's current legal situation will be described, and the involvement of national and international law enforcement groups in Rizzuto's arrest will be investigated. Canadian and American legislation used to charge Rizzuto will be outlined. In addition, the expected result of Rizzuto's legal problems will be described, and the impact out of his potential extradition on organized crime in Canada will be discussed. The interests of justice dictate that Rizzuto should be extradited based upon the fact that he would go to trial Canadian laws, and that Rizzuto's extradition would be in the public's best interest. Irwin Cotler should intervene and ensure that Rizzuto is extradited to United States.


Vito Rizzuto was born in the town of Cattolica Eraclea in Sicily in 1946 (Humphreys, The Man They Call).

He immigrated to Montreal with his family in 1954 (CBC News Online, INDEPTH). During Vito's high school years, his father was known to be associated with individuals involved in organized crime. When members of the Caruana-*****rera clan moved to Canada to avoid prosecution elsewhere, they soon became involved with Vito Rizzuto and his father. Vito Rizzuto married Sicilian Giovanna Cammalleni, and they had three children: sons Nicolo and Leonardo, and a daughter, Libertina. The Rizzuto family is extremely close, with several members living on the same street on Montreal Island. Known as the Teflon Don, Vito Rizzuto is thought to be a leader of organized crime within Canada. He has known associations with organized crime leaders in Calgary, Vancouver, and New York, and is credited with helping bring a truce between known motorcycle gangs the Hell's Angels and the Rock Machine in Quebec. In the mid-1980s, Rizzuto fled to Venezuela for some time due to increased tensions with the Caruana-*****rera organization. Rizzuto speaks fluent Spanish, Italian, French and English, and is always elegantly groomed and dressed. He is reputed to enjoy the high life, including golfing, restaurants, a Jaguar and three Corvettes (Humphreys, The Man They Call). Rizzuto has a long history of involvement with the law. In 1972, he was sentenced to two years in jail for conspiracy to commit arson. In 1981, Rizzuto was inducted into the Bonanno mafia organization after helping to murder three captains of the family who were plotting a takeover. In the same decade, he was charged and acquitted in two separate drug investigations. In 2001, the police in Montreal charged the three people involved in a plot to kill Rizzuto (CBC News Online, INDEPTH).

Rizzuto's Situation

Vito Rizzuto was among the nearly 30 suspected members of organized crime ranks arrested in a sweep led by United States' prosecutors. This sweep targeted members of the Bonanno crime family, and links back to the 1981 killings of three Mafia captains, Alphonse Indelicato, Dominick Trinchera and Philip Giaccone. The three captains of the Bonanno crime family were killed in May of 1991 in Brooklyn, New York. The three were suspected of plotting a grab for power while Bonanno crime boss Philip Rastelli was in prison. This hit helped entrench Rizzuto's reputation as the Godfather of Canada Italian Mafia (Blue, 2004).

Rizzuto was arrested at his Montreal home by local Montreal police in January 20th of 2004. He was the only individual arrested in Canada. His arrest came at the request of United States' authorities. Rizzuto was arrested on racketeering and murder charges based on the 1991 killings of three Mafia captains. These racketeering charges related to conspiracy and loan sharking, in addition to the 1981 murders (Blue, 2004).

An extradition hearing for Rizzuto was held on March 29, 2004. This occurred two weeks after a Quebec Superior Court justice was named in the case. Since January 20, 2004, Rizzuto has been held within Montreal's Riviere des Prairies prison (Blue, 2004).

Based on evidence from ex-mobsters, police have begun searching for bodies in a swampy area of Queens. This is the deceased Mafia captain Alphonse Indelicato was unearthed in 1981. The FBI has been informed that this area is a Mafia burial ground that also holds the bodies of Dominick Trinchera and Philip Giaccone, who were allegedly killed by Rizzuto's gang. Much of the prosecutors' case against Rizzuto is based on the testimony of Salvatore Vitale, a Bonanno under boss turned informant (Blue, 2004).

US authorities want to extradite Vito Rizzuto to New York for trial (CBC News Online, Extradition). Irwin Cotler, the Canadian Justice Minister, is expected to make a decision in early November regarding Rizzuto's extradition to the United States. If found guilty, Rizzuto would face a 20 to 27-year sentence (Blue, 2004; CBC News Online, INDEPTH).

Rizzuto's lawyers note that much of the evidence against Vito Rizzuto is based on hearsay. Further, Rizzuto's lawyers argue that Rizzuto cannot be extradited because evidence submitted is too old. They argue that U.S. prosecutors do not have enough evidence to prove that Rizzuto was a member of an organized crime group in the United States in the past five years, and important number considering that five years is the statute of limitations for racketeering charges. In August, in a Quebec court, Alan Dershowitz, a high-profile U.S. attorney and Harvard law professor noted that Rizzuto has not been officially charged with murder. As such, it is not important that there is no statute of limitations for murder in New York State law (Blue, 2004).

National and International Law Enforcement and Rizzuto

Rizzuto's 2004 arrest was made possible by the close of operation of national and international Law enforcement agencies. These include local Montreal police, the Canadian RCMP, the FBI, New York Police, The Criminal Intelligence Service Canada (CISC), and even Revenue Canada (Canadian Content).

Local Montreal police have been heavily involved in cases against Vito Rizzuto. Montreal police recognize Rizzuto as a leader in organized crime, as does Antonio Nicaso, an international authority on organized crime. Similarly, Revenue Canada sees Rizzuto as Montreal's Godfather to the Italian Mafia (Humphreys, The Man They Call).

Montreal police compiled a report for Rizzuto's bail appeal in August of 2004. This report noted that Rizzuto was linked to drug traffickers, loan sharks, and convicted murderers at a variety of social events, including weddings, funerals, boxing matches, and golf courses. In addition, Montreal police noted that Rizzuto's relatively low reported income could not support his lush life, including a large home, and expensive cars. In addition, the report notes that undercover police officers reported that criminals have told them Vito Rizzuto is their boss (Blue, 2004).

Canadian RCMP also have a long history of involvement with the Vito Rizzuto. RCMP were closely involved with the investigation Caruana-*****rera organization. RCMP also played a role in Rizzuto's 2004 arrest (Blue, 2004).

Canada's The Criminal Intelligence Service Canada (CISC), an umbrella law-enforcement organization, has also been involved in dealings with Rizzuto. CISC has noted that Rizzuto's Montreal-based Mafia clan participates and large illicit drug movements and other illegal activities (Canadian Content).

There is a long history of FBI involvement with Vito Rizzuto. The FBI became involved with Rizzuto in the mid-1980s, due to increased tensions with the Caruana-*****rera organization that ultimately resulted in murders. A 1985 FBI report notes, "Nick Rizzuto (Vito's father) is suspected of conspiracy in all three murders, acting out of revenge... For his expulsion to Venezuela." The FBI have also followed Rizzuto's dealings with international drug trafficking, and even a suspicious furniture shipment from Italy to Canada in 1982 (Humphreys, The Man They Call).

Current FBI involvement with Rizzuto centers on Rizzuto's alleged killing of Mafia crime bosses Alphonse Indelicato, Dominick Trinchera and Philip Giaccone. Currently, Rizzuto faces extradition hearings to the United States to be tried on these crimes (Blue, 2004).

Rizzuto has even been involved with Revenue Canada, the Canadian equivalent of the IRS. Revenue Canada has argued that Rizzuto did not declare income for three years in the 1980s. The dispute dates back to Penway Explorers Ltd. stock traded on the Alberta Stock Exchange that disappeared from the accounts of Toronto stockbroker Arthur F. Sherman. Canadian Justice George Adams found that Sherman's activities were driven by Vito Rizzuto, and Revenue Canada soon took action to claim their share of the $1.4 million in revenue from the stock deals. Notes Humphreys, "It was a tax evasion case, police officers in Montreal point out, that finally toppled Al Capone, the legendary American mob boss, after years of dodging authorities" (Humphreys, The Man They Call).

Legislation in the U.S. And Canada

Vito Rizzuto was arrested on racketeering and murder charges based on the 1991 killings of three Mafia captains. However, he is only charged with racketeering by United States prosecutors. This is an important distinction, as his extradition hearings will be primarily based upon racketeering charges. Essentially, out Rizzuto's current Canadian legal issues boil down to whether or not he will be extradited to United States to be tried for his alleged crimes.

Currently, Rizzuto's extradition hearing in Canada is simply aimed at determining whether he should be…

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