|Giuseppe "Pep" Cotroni|
| Giuseppe Cotroni, Vic's younger brother, was born on February 22, 1920 in Calabria, Italy. When he was only four, the family immigrated to Montreal's Italian section.
He made his name mainly as a specialist in armed robbery and fencing stolen goods. By 1937, "Pep", as he was often called, had been charged eight times for such offenses. In 1949, Cotroni was jailed for receiving stolen bonds. He was released from St. Vincent de Paul prison in April, 1953, after serving almost four years.
Jail did not alter Cotroni's view on crime though and, in the autumn of 1954, the RCMP learned that he had become partners with Lucien Rivard
|in heroin trafficking. Drugs would be imported by Corsican traffickers and smuggled to American customers by the Montreal organization. Pep's older brother Vic and Luigi Greco were his principal financial backers in the drug business and received a cut of the proceeds.
Cotroni travelled to Paris on March 14, 1957 and was followed by agents of the French central office for narcotics. They tailed him to the Le Francais bar but "Pep" must have sensed something was wrong and left after a brief moment. Minutes later, police noticed Corsican drug trafficker Jean-Baptiste Croce enter the bar.
On November 14, 1957, "Pep" Cotroni and Luigi Greco represented Montreal at the infamous Apalachin Mafia conference. The meeting was interrupted when a New York State police trooper
|noticed a large number of black limousines in the area. 60 wiseguys were arrested as they tried to flee but almost as many, including the Montrealers, escaped.
Cotroni, accompanied by Luigi Greco and some employees of the Bonfire resturant, vacationed at his Ste. Adele cottage one weekend. Around 5pm, the group sat down and drank from a bottle of anisette. Cotroni, Gaston Savard, and Ernest Costello began feeling harsh pains in their stomachs and legs and were taken to the hospital for treatment. Cotroni and Savard, who had only taken sips, survived but Costello,
|who had drank his entire glass, died of poisoning. Police discovered that the cottage's window had been forced open and that the anisette had been spiked with the dealy poison strychnine. Cotroni and Greco both declared that they had no enemies and no one was ever arrested for the act.
In 1959, the U.S. Bureau of Narcotics decided to target Cotroni's heroin network. Agent Patrick Biase, playing the role of Dave Costa, accompanied drug courier turned informant Eddie Smith to Montreal to meet the mobster. Cotroni, with his right-hand man René Robert,
|met with Smith and Biase and agreed to sell them two kilos of heroin for $7,000 each. Other deals were made and, when the investigation, Cotroni and Robert were arrested on narcotics trafficking charges.
In November 1959, "Pep" Cotroni, at age 39, was sentenced to ten years in prison and fined $88,000. René Robert, 31, received an eight year sentence. He was given another seven years in jail, to be served consecutively, on May 18, 1960 for a stolen bonds conviction. The bonds had been taken during a $3,750,000 robbery from the Brockville Trust & Savings company in 1958. The robbery had been the act of one of Cotroni's main lieutenants, Peter "The Russian" Stepanoff.
Giuseppe Cotroni was liberated from prison in April, 1971. He returned to his criminal activities and continued to accumulate an impressive fortune through narcotics trafficking and his various legitimate interests. "Pep" successfully avoided further prosecution until his death of natural causes in September 1979.