| Paolo Violi immigrated from Sinopoli, Italy to Canada in the 1950s. The family settled in Ontario and Paolo - along with his brothers Rocco, Francesco, and Giuseppe - became a low level criminal in the Hamilton area.
On May 24, 1955, Violi and immigrant Natale Brigante chatted in a parking lot in Toronto. Violi produced a .32-calibre firearm and pumped four bullets into Brigante. Police picked Violi up in Welland and charged him with manslaughter. The charges were dropped when Violi claimed self-defence and showed the court a knife wound as proof.
In the early 1960s, Violi relocated to Montreal and hooked up with Frank "Le Gros" Cotroni, Vic's younger brother. He ran a successful
|extortion racket in Montreal's Italian community of St. Leonard, a countefeiting ring, and shipped bootleg whiskey from Montreal to southern Ontario. He began to meet regulary with Vic Cotroni and encountered Bill Bonanno in November 1966.
Violi married into Mafia royalty on July 10, 1965. He wed Grazia Luppino, daughter of Ontario Mafia Godfather Giacomo Luppino, and expanded his influence greatly. Grazia, a loyal wife, would remain by his side until his death. Vic Cotroni and Ontario crime bosses Johnny Papalia and Paul Volpe would become godfather to the couple's children.
Violi continued his successful criminal career and, by the early 1970s, was seen as Cotroni's heir apparent. But The Godfather of St. Leonard, as Violi was often called, wasn't as calm-headed as his predecesor. When a war erupted in 1973 between the Cotroni Family and the Dubois Gang, Violi's proposed solution, overheard on a wiretap, was to "have gone into the club, clients or no clients, lined everybody up against the wall and rat-a-tat-tat." But Cotroni, who now played the role of advisor, wasn't as brash and decided to make peace with the French-Canadian gang.
In the mid-1970s Paolo Violi's world was invaded once again. Montreal police officer Bob Menard, under the name Bob Wilson, rented the apartment above Violi's headquarters, an ice cream bar on Jean-Talon East. Menard would bug Violi's base of operations and the information picked up from the bug was priceless.
Despite being born in Italy, agent Menard learned, Violi was a Canadian nationalist. He hated the PQ. When English teachers in St. Leonard began receiving threatening calls, Violi provided them with bodyguards for protection. The threats soon ceased.
In the late 70s, the Sicilian faction of the family, led by Nicolo Rizzuto, decided to make a grab for power. Pietro Sciara, Violi's adviser, was murdered on Valentine's Day, 1976, while leaving a theatre with his wife. Ironically, the movie they had seen was The Godfather.
Francesco Violi, Paolo's brother, was next. He was murdered on February 8, 1977. Francesco was on the phone in his office at Violi's Importing and Distributing Company when he received a shotgun blast to the face. Several bullets were also fired from a handgun to affirm the man's death. Paolo was behind bars at the time, serving a contempt term.
Paolo Violi was a marked man when he was released from prison that fall. Nick Rizzuto, who had left for Venezuela to avoid Violi's wrath, had placed a contract on his head. Violi refused to run or hide, and continued to attend his regular hangouts.
On January 22, 1978, while playing cards at a bar owned by Sicilian mobsters Vincenzo and Giuseppe Randisi, two masked men strolled in wearing .12 gauge shotguns. One of the assassins placed a gun to the back of Violi's head and fired. He was 46 years old.
Violi's funeral featured 31 black Cadillacs loaded with flowers and tributes from mobsters in Italy and North America. Sicilian mobsters Giovanni DiMora, Agostino Cuntrera, and Dominico Manno would plead guilty to plotting Violi's death. DiMora and Manno each received seven years in prison, while Cuntrera got five years.
Upon Violi's death, Nicolo Rizzuto took over the Family and terminated the relationship with the New York City Bonanno Crime Family. The Montreal organization, who during its heyday sent $50 million yearly to their American bosses, became independent.