MONTREAL – Vito Rizzuto has stepped into an unknown world after an eight-year prison stint, with his once-dominant alleged criminal empire decimated by setbacks and his own family devastated by tragedy.
The reputed Mafia boss was released from the U.S. federal correctional institution in Florence, Colorado Friday morning and handed over to American immigration authorities.
Peel Regional Police constable George Tudos confirmed that Rizzuto arrived at Toronto’s Pearson International Airport just before 11 o’clock Friday night aboard an Air Canada flight, and that officers were waiting at the arrivals gates.
“For us it was a security detail at the airport, I mean due to the history behind this individual, we wanted to make sure that he arrived safe and that everyone at the airport would be safe,” he said.
The 66 year old reputed Sicilian Mafia boss remained at the airport for only a short time before Tudos said he departed, destination unknown.
“He came from the U-S and he’s a free man, so he’s going where ever he chooses at this point, and that’s unknown.”
There had been speculation Rizzuto might appear in Montreal for the funeral of his 92-year-old father-in-law, however, the service was held Friday morning before he could get there.
Rizzuto was deemed to be the head of a powerful criminal organization when he was arrested in 2004, with tentacles in a multitude of legal and illegal businesses tied to different countries.
But the organization was battered during his years behind bars, which he spent mostly in the U.S. in connection with the three-decade-old murders of New York Mafia captains.
Scores of his associates were arrested, and many others have been killed.
The slayings have straddled three generations of Rizzuto’s own family, with his father and his son both gunned down. His brother-in-law has been missing for two years.
Rizzuto’s palatial home on a Montreal street dubbed by police as “Mafia Row,” because several family members lived there, is also on sale for $1.5 million. The price for the four-bedroom, five-bathroom home has been slashed by one-quarter — with the asking rate dropping from nearly $2 million last summer.
And now the business dealings of the Rizzutos are under intense public scrutiny during a Quebec inquiry into corruption in the construction industry.
Old images of Rizzuto’s late father Nicolo stuffing cash into his socks were broadcast from the probe. The tape was gathered during a surveillance operation that led to a multitude of Mafia arrests in 2006.
A former construction boss has testified that he was forced to pay the Mafia a 2.5 per cent cut from public-works contracts, which drove up the cost of construction in Montreal.
Star witness Lino Zambito told the inquiry that when he had a dispute with another construction boss about who should win a rigged public contract, that other boss called upon Rizzuto to mediate. That rival construction owner, Tony Accurso, has denied squabbling with Zambito or calling upon a mobster for help.
-With files by Peter Rakobowchuk