MONTREAL – First came names and now a Quebec corruption inquiry is watching video of construction bosses handing over cash to Mafia chieftains at a notorious Sicilian Mafia hangout in Montreal.
A local police detective is showing surveillance video of prominent construction bosses and high-ranking members of the Rizzuto clan exchanging and counting cash.
Some of the video shows the late Niccolo Rizzuto — the onetime don of the country’s most powerful crime family — stuffing cash into his socks.
A businessman seen at the hangout 236 times over the span of two years was identified by an investigator as a “middle man” between the construction industry and the once-dominant Rizzuto clan.
Eric Vecchio, a Montreal police detective working with the Charbonneau Commission, says the video demonstrates that one member of the Rizzuto hierarchy, Rocco Sollecito, was in charge of dealing with construction cash.
The videos were shot during Operation Colisee, a five-year investigation that culminated with mass arrests in 2006 in the largest sweep against the Italian Mafia in Canadian history.
But the RCMP says it never used the evidence gathered on the videos — because because it wasn’t pertinent to its drug investigation. The Mounties fought in court, unsuccessfully, to keep from sharing the evidence at the public inquiry.
The Charbonneau Commission, which is looking into criminal corruption in the construction industry and its ties to organized crime and political parties, gained that evidence after a court battle with the Mounties.
The commission’s own investigators have been able to identify certain construction industry executives not identified by the RCMP.
The language spoken on the videos is mainly a Sicilian dialect.