Francesco "Frank" Cotroni
   Francesco Cotroni, the fifth of six children, was  born in Montreal in 1931. He followed his older brother Vic into a life of crime  and, by the late 50s, was a lieutenant in the Montreal Mafia.

     Unlike his older Calabrian  born brothers, Frank felt  more at  ease speaking in French and English than Italian. He even  married a French woman, Pauline Desormiers, and had  six children. He was known  on the streets of Montraeal in all three  languages: "The Big Guy", "Il Cice" and "Le Gros".

     Cotroni was first arrested in September of 1960 with Jos Di Maulo and Michel "The Penguin" Di Paolo for possession of deadly weapons. He was carrying a gun that fired armour-piercing bullets.

     Two months later, while out on bail, Frank was again arrested after
leading thirty family enforcers into Montreal's Chez Paree nightclub and trashing the place. $30,000 in damages were caused and he was once again behind bars.

     Frank Cotroni and several of  his soldiers were  charged in the late 60s with conspiring to dig a tunnel  under Trans-Island street, in  north-western Montreal, into the vaults of  a
City and District Savings Bank of Montreal branch. But the plot was uncovered by police before the tunnel could be completed  and the  loot, which would have  been almost $6 million, was never  pilfered. Although several of his men were found guilty, "The Big Guy" was acquitted of all charges.

     On February 1, 1971, while on vacation  in Mexico, Cotroni  was stopped and  imprisoned by police following a complaint by an Acapulco  jeweler concerning  jewelry worth $2,080 which  had been purchased on a stolen credit card. The whole  ordeal turned out to be a  misunderstanding but Cotroni had to spend 12 days behind bars before the mess was cleared up.

     In 1972, Cotroni was once again back in court. Dionysos Chionsis, a Greek immigrant, testified that three men had  demanded $250 a week for "protection". One of the  extortionists said that they worked for Frank Cotroni. But the case fell apart when, on his second day of testimony, the scared resturant owner suddenly came down with amnesia. The charges against Cotroni were withdrawn.

     Problems continued to plague Cotroni and he was arrested on drug trafficking  charges on November 8, 1974, as he met with  his brother Vic. The case  was brought before the  Supreme Court of Canada and he was extradited to  the United States to stand  trail. The state's main witness, Sicilian drug  trafficker Giuseppe "Pino" Catania,  convinced  the jury of Cotroni's guilt and  he was sentenced to 15 years in prison and a fine of $20,000.

     Cotroni was  paroled on April 25, 1979, after  serving a third of his prison sentence, and immediately  returned to Montreal  and continued his criminal empire. He managed to keep a low profile  for a few years but, once again, Frank  ran into trouble with law enforcement. He was arrested on August 30, 1983 in a St. Leonard restaurant after a federal grand  jury in New Haven, Connecticut indicted  him on conspiring to distribute heroin.
Montreal Mafia

     Vic Cotroni, Frank's older brother and godfather of the Montreal crime family, died of cancer on September 19, 1984. Frank, who was being held at the  Parthenais prison in Montreal while fighting extradition, requested a humanitarian leave to attend the funeral but was refused.

     Réal Simard, who oversaw Frank's activities in Toronto, was arrested for murder and decided to testify against his boss. Simard told police of his role in the murder of a north-end  drug dealer who was badmouthing Cotroni. Giuseppe Montegano was  shot four times in the head in June, 1981 at a private club owned by Cotroni's son, Francesco.

     On December 8, 1987, Cotroni was sentenced to eight years in prison for manslaughter. His son Francesco and two associates were also convicted in the plot. Around  the same time, Cotroni  was convicted to a six year term for the conspiracy case in Connecticut.

     As he served  time for those two crimes, Cotroni held an  interview with a reporter in the prison yard. "The Big Guy" denounced his life of crime and, as he smoked an expensive cigar and watched a prison softball game, assured the world that he was going straight.

     Cotroni, his son Francesco, and 22 others were nabbed on April 17, 1996 in a massive joint drug ring between the Italian Mafia and  an organization led by Daniel Serero. Police claimed the network was  responsible  for  importing  hundreds, if  not  thousands, of  kilos of cocaine  into the country. Cotroni, who  ran the  ring  with Serero, was once  again behind  bars, this  time  for  a  seven year sentence.

     While behind bars, the Calabrian  mob boss received bad news on May 19, 1999, when  his son Paolo was shot  to death  in the driveway of  his  Repentigny  home. In what  police  believe was  a retaliation, 69 year old Vincent Melia was shot in the face in a bar just before Paolo's funeral service was about to begin.

     On October 30, 2001, Cotroni, at the  age of  70 years old  and having spent  almost 30 years of his life behind bars, was paroled from a minimum security prison in Laval. He had served two-thirds of his term and police promised to keep a close eye on him. 

     Cotroni was  arrested on  June 3, 2002 for  allegedly violating the conditions of  his parole. Two police officers claimed to have seen the mob boss in a Montreal restaurant meeting with people with criminal records. He was given  a conditional release on  August 26, 2002, after a hearing before the National Parole Board.

   Cotroni died of  brain cancer  at his  Montreal  home on August 17, 2004. He was surrounded by family at the time of his death. He was 72 years old.
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