| Rocco Violi, brother of Montreal Mafia Godfather Paolo Violi, and his twin brother Giuseppe were born in the late 1930s or early 1940s in Italy.
In the 1950s, Violi, along with brothers Giuseppe, Paolo, and Francesco, immigrated to Canada in the 1950s and, after a stay in Ontario, finally settled in Montreal.
Rocco and Giuseppe Violi opened a pizzeria in Montreal's north-end, and the four brothers, led by Paolo, associated themselves with the Montreal Mafia.
Violi made headlines in 1964, when he was arrested for a knife
|fight. His twin, Giuseppe, was picked up that same year, for a hit-and-run incident. Both men were detained for deportation at Bordeaux prison but were released when politician John Diefenbaker pushed for an investigation into the Canadian Immigration Department and how they handled such cases.
In April, 1970, Violi's twin brother, Giuseppe, was killed in a traffic accident. He was 30 years old. Their father, Dominico, an alleged Mafia boss, was granted a special immigration permit to attend the funeral, something he would become all too familiar with over the next ten years.
While Paolo Violi had risen to become the leader of the Montreal Mafia, Rocco Violi never became an important figure in the organization. The National Criminal Intelligence files listed him only as Paolo Violi's brother and Montreal's anti-gang police squad had only a small file on him.
War broke out between the Montreal Mafia's Sicilian and Calabrian factions in the 1970s. The Sicilians, led by Nicolo and Vito Rizzuto, refused to take orders from Paolo Violi and made a grab for the power.
On February 8, 1977, masked gunmen barged into Violi Importing & Distributing Ltd. and riddled Francesco Violi, Rocco's brother, with bullets. A year later, on January 22, 1978, it was Paolo Violi's turn. He was gunned down as he played cards in a bar owned by the Randisi brothers, Vincenzo and Giuseppe.
Life became dangerous for Rocco Violi, who was now seen by the Sicilians as a liability and possible threat.
As Violi waited in his grey Oldsmobile at a traffic light at Pascal Gagnon Boulevard and Paul-Emile Gamache Street on July 27, 1980, a motorcycle carrying two people pulled up alongside the car. The passenger of the bike pulled a sawed-off shotgun from his leather jacket and fired a shot at Violi. He missed and Violi sped off. The motorcycle followed him and a second shot was fired, hitting Violi in the head.
Violi was taken to Maisonneuve Hospital, where doctors removed 12 pellets from his face and neck. He refused to talk to authorities and did not policemen guarding his room. "Violi was lucky," said a police official. "If those guys had used a more powerful shotgun shell, Rocco would have joined his brothers."
Violi wouldn't be so lucky three months later. He was reading a newspaper in the kitchen of his St. Leonard home on October 19 when a bullet struck him in the chest and pierced his heart. Violi's two sons were also in the kitchen at the time of the shooting but were not harmed.
The murder was committed by a professional killer, police said. A .308 calibre Remington rifle and a paper napkin were found on the third floor of a nearby. The window on the floor provided a clear view into the back of Violi's home and the napkin had been used by the killer to wipe away his finger prints from the murder weapon.
Police official Charles Poxon said that the murder came as a surprise, since Violi had recently been trying to steer clear of organized crime.
Violi's funeral service was held on October 23. Dozens of wreaths were piled on 14 cars for the funeral procession, including one from Mafia Godfather Joe Bonanno.
As family and friends gathered inside the Notre Dame Della Difesa Italian Church on Henri Julien Street, a large individual stood guard at the entrance. Police officers took pictures as the mourners exited but no Montreal crime figures had attended the service.
His body was then brought to Cote des Neiges Cemetery, where he was buried next to three of his brothers. It was the fourth time that Dominico Violi had travelled to Montreal to bury a son.