Paolo Violi
Montreal Mafia
  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.