Nicolo Rizzuto

Nicolo Rizzuto (Italian: [nikoˈlɔ rritˈtsuːto]; February 18, 1924 – November 10, 2010) was an Italian-Canadian crime boss and founder of the Rizzuto crime family, the Sicilian Mafia family based in Montreal, Quebec.

Nicolo Rizzuto
BornFebruary 18, 1924
DiedNovember 10, 2010(2010-11-10) (aged 86)
Montreal, Quebec, Canada
Cause of deathGunshot
Resting placeSaint-François d'Assise cemetery, Saint-Leonard, Quebec
Other namesNick, Nicolò
OccupationCrime boss, mobster, extortionist, racketeer
Libertina Manno (m. 1945)
ChildrenVito Rizzuto
Maria Rizzuto
Parent(s)Vito Rizzuto Sr.
Maria Renda
RelativesNicolo "Nick" Rizzuto Jr. (grandson)
Leonardo Rizzuto (grandson)
Libertina Rizzuto (granddaughter)
Paolo Renda (son-in-law)
Domenico Manno (brother-in-law)
Antonio Manno (father-in-law)
AllegianceRizzuto crime family
Conviction(s)Drug trafficking (1988)
Possession of proceeds of a crime (2008)
Tax evasion (2010)
Criminal penaltyEight years' imprisonment; served five years
Served two years' imprisonment
Ordered to pay a $209,000 fine

Rizzuto was born in Cattolica Eraclea, Sicily, Italy, in 1924, and immigrated to Montreal in 1954 with his wife, son and daughter. Rizzuto married into the mob through his wife Libertina Manno's family. He began as an associate in the Sicilian faction of the Calabrian Cotroni crime family which had most of the control in Montreal. In the late 1970s, a mob war broke out between the Sicilian and Calabrian factions, which resulted in the deaths of Paolo Violi, the acting captain of the Cotroni family, and his brothers. Although Rizzuto was not charged with any of these murders, he was linked to them as the events allowed the Rizzuto family to emerge as the preeminent crime family in Montreal by the early 1980s. Rizzuto was jailed twice, once in 1988 on drug charges where he served five years in a Venezuelan prison, and the other in 2006 where he served two years of a tax-evasion charge. His son Vito later followed him into the mob, and in 2007, was found guilty of conspiracy to commit murder as well as racketeering, and served a prison sentence until 2012. During this time, a power struggle within the Rizzuto family ensued; his grandson Nicolo Jr. was killed in 2009, followed by Rizzuto himself by a sniper rifle while in his home on November 10, 2010.

Early life and familyEdit

Rizzuto was born in Cattolica Eraclea, in the province of Agrigento, Sicily on February 18, 1924. In January 1925, his father Vito Rizzuto Sr. illegally immigrated to the United States with his brother-in-law Calogero Renda, while Vito's wife Maria Renda stayed with Nicolo in Sicily. On August 12, 1933, Vito was murdered in Patterson, New York, U.S., forcing Nicolo to grow up with a stepfather after his mother remarried to Liborio Milioto.[1][2] Nicolo married into the mob by marrying Libertina Manno, on March 20, 1945, the daughter of Antonio Manno, a local Mafia leader in their hometown.[3] On February 21, 1946, Nicolo would father a son, Vito, who would later follow him into the mob. On February 21, 1954, with his wife, son and daughter, Nicolo immigrated to Canada, arriving by ship, and docking at Pier 21 in Halifax, Nova Scotia before moving on to Montreal, Quebec.[4] He was able to form his own crew with help from several other Sicilian relatives and associates living there.[5] Antonio Manno would later immigrate to Montreal as well, on September 11, 1964.[2]

Rizzuto had ties to organized crime in Canada, the United States, Venezuela and Italy. He began his Mafia career in Canada as an associate of the Cotroni crime family that controlled much of Montreal's drug trade in the 1970s while answering to the Bonanno crime family of New York. He was, however, more closely linked to the Sicilian Mafia, in particular the Cuntrera-Caruana Mafia clan, who came from the same region in Sicily as Rizzuto.[6]

Rizzuto had two grandsons by his son Vito and his wife Giovanna Cammalleri: Leonardo Rizzuto and Nicolo "Nick" Rizzuto Jr, and a granddaughter: Maria Rizzuto. On December 28, 2009, Nick Rizzuto Jr. was shot and killed near his car in Notre-Dame-de-Grâce, a borough in Montreal.[7][8][9] Paolo Renda, Nicolo's son-in-law, disappeared on May 20, 2010, and is presumed to have been kidnapped.[10] On December 23, 2013, Vito died from complications of lung cancer at a Montreal hospital,[11] after he had been released on October 5, 2012 after serving over five years in prison for murder and racketeering charges.[12]

Mob warEdit

In the 1970s, Rizzuto was an underling in the Sicilian faction, led by Luigi Greco until his death in 1972,[13][14] of the Calabrian Cotroni crime family. As tension then grew into a power struggle between the Calabrian and Sicilian factions of the family, a mob war began in 1973.[15] Cotroni capodecina Paolo Violi complained about the independent modus operandi of his Sicilian 'underlings', 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."[6] In 1977, Rizzuto and Violi met face-to-face in the home of a Montreal resident for a last-ditch effort to resolve their differences, according to a police report. But the peace talks failed, and most of the Rizzuto family fled to Venezuela.[4] This led to a violent Mafia war in Montreal which resulted in the deaths of Violi and his brothers, along with others, spanning the mid-1970s to the early 1980s until the war ceased.[4]

Although Rizzuto was in Venezuela at the time, he was linked to the 1978 murder of Paolo Violi, a Bonanno soldier who had been named acting boss of the Cotroni family.[4] Domenico Manno, Antonio Manno's son, was also instrumental in Violi's murder.[16] Manno received a seven-year sentence after pleading guilty to conspiring to kill Violi,[16] as well as Rizzuto confidant Agostino Cuntrera, who received a five-year sentence in relation to Violi's murder.[17] By the mid 1980s, the Rizzuto crime family emerged as Montreal's pre-eminent crime family after the turf war.[18]

Legal problemsEdit

Nicolo Rizzuto was arrested in Venezuela on August 2, 1988, after investigators found 700 grams of cocaine at Rizzuto's residence. Rizzuto was sentenced to eight years in a Venezuelan prison, but was paroled after five years, in 1993, after an associate of the family delivered an $800,000 bribe to Venezuelan officials. Rizzuto's lawyers said it was due to his health condition. On May 23, 1993, Rizzuto landed back in Montreal.[19][20]

On November 22, 2006, Rizzuto was arrested by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police in a police raid, along with Paolo Renda, Rocco Sollecito, Francesco Arcadi, Lorenzo Giordano, Francesco Del Balso and dozens others, following a four-year investigation named Project Colisée.[19][21] On September 18, 2008, Rizzuto pleaded guilty to possession of proceeds of a crime for the benefit of, the direction of, or in association with a criminal organization.[22] On October 16, 2008, Rizzuto was released from prison after serving two years of a suggested four-year sentence, as prosecutors could not directly implicate Rizzuto in crimes exposed by investigators.[19][23]

On February 11, 2010, Rizzuto entered a guilty plea for two counts of tax evasion charges, which stemmed from a Canada Revenue Agency investigation for the tax years of 1994 and 1995. Rizzuto was accused of hiding $5.2 million deposited in Swiss bank accounts and failing to report $728,000 in interest income.[20] Rizzuto was ordered to pay a $209,000 fine.[24]


On November 10, 2010, Rizzuto was killed at his residence in the Cartierville borough of Montreal when a single bullet from a sniper's rifle punched through double-paned glass of the rear patio doors of his mansion; he was 86.[25] His death is believed to be the final blow against the Rizzuto crime family.[5][26] Rizzuto's funeral was held at the Church of the Madonna della Difesa in Montreal's Little Italy on November 15, attended by around 800 people.[27] He was buried at Saint-François d'Assise cemetery in Saint-Leonard, Quebec in a private ceremony.[27][20]

In popular cultureEdit

Mafia expert Antonio Nicaso and Peter Edwards published a book about Nicolo's son Vito's final events, Business or Blood: Mafia Boss Vito Rizzuto's Last War (2015). It was later adapted into the television drama series Bad Blood, which debuted in fall 2017; Nicolo was portrayed by Paul Sorvino.[28]


  1. ^ Lamothe & Humphreys, The Sixth Family (2nd edition), p. 17
  2. ^ a b Edwards & Nicaso, Business or Blood: Mafia Boss Vito Rizzuto's Last War, chronology
  3. ^ GYULAI, ,LINDA. "What becomes of Rizzuto women?". Archived from the original on 2019-01-26. Retrieved 2018-10-04.
  4. ^ a b c d "The man they call the Canadian Godfather". National Post. February 26, 2001. Archived from the original on 11 April 2018. Retrieved 19 May 2017.
  5. ^ a b Hit 'signals war', National Post, November 9, 2010
  6. ^ a b [1] Archived 2017-09-03 at the Wayback Machine, by Tom Blickman, Transnational Organized Crime, Vol. 3, No. 2, Summer 1997
  7. ^ "Mobster's son slain in street" Archived 2010-01-02 at, National Post, December 29, 2009 (accessed December 29, 2009)
  8. ^ Nicolò Rizzuto: Mafia boss who rose to become head of Canada’s largest crime syndicate Archived 2018-04-09 at the Wayback Machine, The Independent Obituary, 16 November 2010
  9. ^ "Who was Nick Rizzuto Jr.?" Archived 2013-11-03 at the Wayback Machine, The Montreal Gazette, December 28, 2009 (accessed December 29, 2009)
  10. ^ Kiss of death for Montreal's Rizzuto clan? Archived 2019-01-16 at the Wayback Machine, The Montreal Gazette, May 22, 2010
  11. ^ "Former Mob boss Rizzuto arrives in Toronto". October 5, 2012. Archived from the original on December 28, 2012. Retrieved April 9, 2018.
  12. ^ News; Canada (23 December 2013). "Vito Rizzuto — the most powerful Mafia boss Canada has ever known — dead at 67". Archived from the original on 3 October 2016. Retrieved 5 July 2017.
  13. ^ Lamothe, Lee. Humphreys, Adrian. The Sixth Family: The Collapse of the New York Mafia and the Rise of Vito Rizzuto. pg.27–29 Archived 2014-06-22 at the Wayback Machine
  14. ^ Manning, George A, PH.D Financial Investigation and Forensic Accounting pg.214–215
  15. ^ Champlain, Pierre De. "Organized Crime". Archived from the original on 2017-09-23. Retrieved 2020-01-05.
  16. ^ a b "'Don Corleone' figure who helped install Rizzuto family to top of Canadian Mafia released from U.S. prison". December 13, 2012.
  17. ^ "Montreal mobster's death marks a reckoning for the Rizzutos". 30 June 2010. Archived from the original on 5 May 2018. Retrieved 25 March 2018.
  18. ^ Lamothe & Humphreys, The Sixth Family, p.308
  19. ^ a b c "Timeline: Life of reputed Mafia boss Vito Rizzuto". 30 December 2013. Archived from the original on 14 January 2018. Retrieved 13 January 2018.
  20. ^ a b c Andre Cedilot; Andre Noel (2010). Mafia Inc. Toronto: Vintage Canada. ISBN 978-0-307-36041-0.
  21. ^ Mob takes a hit Archived 2008-03-23 at the Wayback Machine, The Montreal Gazette, November 23, 2006
  22. ^ "Guilty pleas reveal mob's thuggish Montreal ways". 19 September 2008.
  23. ^ "Rizzuto handed suspended sentence in gangsterism trial". 16 October 2008. Archived from the original on 14 April 2019. Retrieved 25 March 2018.
  24. ^ Rizzuto clan head pleads guilty to tax evasion Archived 2016-03-31 at the Wayback Machine, CBC News, February 11, 2010
  25. ^ "Man who might have murdered Nicolo Rizzuto shot dead in Toronto". 13 July 2013. Archived from the original on 9 April 2018. Retrieved 9 April 2018.
  26. ^, Zone Aucun thème sélectionné -. "Vaste enquête pour retrouver l'assassin de Nicolo Rizzuto". Archived from the original on 2010-11-12. Retrieved 2010-11-11.
  27. ^ a b "Huge turnout for funeral of alleged Montreal Mafia don". 15 November 2010. Archived from the original on 9 April 2018. Retrieved 4 October 2018.
  28. ^ "Montreal Mafia TV series coming to a screen near you in fall 2017". Montreal Gazette. 12 January 2017. Archived from the original on 26 January 2019. Retrieved 18 May 2017.

External linksEdit