|Was|| Criminal |
|From|| Italy |
|Birth||6 February 1933, Sinopoli, Italy|
|Death|| 22 January 1978, Montreal, Canada|
(aged 44 years)
Paolo Violi ([ˈpaːolo ˈvjɔːli; viˈɔːli]; February 6, 1931 – January 22, 1978) was an Italian-Canadian mobster and acting capodecina of the Bonanno crime family’s faction in Montreal, the Cotroni crime family.
Violi was born in Sinopoli, Calabria, Italy, in 1931; his father Domenico was the boss of the Violi clan in his hometown. Violi immigrated to Southern Ontario in 1951. He married Grazia Luppino, daughter of the boss of the Luppino crime family in Hamilton. He later moved to Montreal where he became associated with in the Calabrese compatriot Cotroni crime family which had most of the control in Montreal. In the late 1970s, a mob war broke out between the Sicilian and Calabrian factions, which resulted in the deaths of Violi in 1978, the acting captain of the Cotroni family, and his brothers, as the Sicilian Rizzuto crime family emerged as the preeminent crime family in Montreal by the early 1980s. After Violi’s death, his widow and two sons, Domenico and Giuseppe moved to Hamilton; the Violi brothers became affiliated with the Luppino crime family, later also becoming known as the Luppino-Violi crime family.
Violi was born in Sinopoli, Calabria on February 6, 1931. Violi was born into the mob; his father Domenico Violi was the head of the Violi clan in Sinopoli. Violi later immigrated to Southern Ontario in 1951. In 1955, he fatally shot Natale Brigante in Toronto, sustaining a stab wound from Brigante. He was charged with manslaughter in a Welland court, but was acquitted claiming it was self-defense, showing the stab wound as evidence. Violi gained Canadian citizenship in 1956 and by the early 1960s was running illegally manufactured liquor from Ontario to Quebec. He became associated with boss of the Hamilton Luppino crime family Giacomo Luppino, but left for Montreal in 1963 on Luppino’s orders to avoid clashes with other Hamilton mobster Johnny Papalia.
In Quebec, Violi opened the Reggio Bar in Saint-Leonard in the mid 1960s, which he used as a base for extortion. He developed connections with the Cotroni crime family, while maintaining ties with the Luppino family; he married Giacomo Luppino’s daughter, Grazia in 1965. In December 1970, his bar was bugged with wiretaps by Robert Menard, an undercover police officer who rented the space above Violi’s bar for several years, which were later used in subsequent cases. In 1974, Violi and Vincenzo Cotroni were overheard on a police wiretap threatening to kill Hamilton mobster Johnny Papalia and demanding $150,000 after he used their names in a $300,000 extortion plot without notifying or cutting them in on the score. The three were convicted of extortion in 1975 and sentenced to six years in prison. Violi and Cotroni appealed and got their sentences reduced to six months, but Papalia’s appeal was rejected. The following year, Violi was arrested to stand before the Quebec government’s Commission d’enquête sur le crime organisé (CECO) inquiry into organized crime; he was sent to jail for one year for contempt.
Mob war and death
The Violi and Cotroni families were from Calabria while the Rizzuto crime family, like the Bonanno’s, were from Sicily. This led to tension between Nicolo Rizzuto, an associate of Cotroni in Montreal, and the Violis, who were vying for control of the city’s Mafia controlled drug market. During a time of power struggle between the Sicilian and Calabrian factions of the Cotroni crime family, Rizzuto aspired to become his own mob boss. Violi complained about the independent modus operandi of his Sicilian ‘underlings’, Rizzuto in particular. “He is going from one side to the other, here and there, and he says nothing to nobody, he is doing business and nobody knows anything,” Violi said about Rizzuto. Violi asked for more ‘soldiers’ from his Bonanno bosses, clearly preparing for war, and Violi’s boss at the time, Vic Cotroni remarked: “Me, I’m capodecina. I got the right to expel.” This led to a power struggle mob war in Montreal which began with the murder of Pietro Sciara on Valentine’s Day in 1976, Violi’s consigliere, who was now acting boss; Sciara’s body was left in the street after seeing an Italian-dubbed version of The Godfather Part II with his wife. On February 8, 1977, Francesco Violi, the younger brother of Paolo, the family enforcer, was murdered by several shotgun wounds. Shortly after Violi was released from the brief jail sentence with relation to the CECO inquiry, he sold his bar to brothers Vincenzo and Giuseppe Randisi; the name was changed to Bar Jean-Talon. On January 22, 1978, Paolo Violi was shot in the head at close range with a lupara in the Bar Jean-Talon after being invited to play cards by Vincenzo Randisi.
Although Nicolo Rizzuto was in Venezuela at the time of Violi’s murder, his brother-in-law Domenico Manno, was believed to play a major role in the murder under Rizzuto’s orders. Manno received a seven-year sentence after pleading guilty to conspiring to kill Violi, as well as Rizzuto confidant Agostino Cuntrera, who received a five-year sentence in relation to Violi’s murder. The war ended on October 17, 1980, when Rocco Violi, the last of Violi’s brothers, was seated, for a family meal, at his kitchen table in his Montreal home when a single bullet from a sniper’s rifle struck him dead. The Rizzuto organization subsequently took over Montreal.
The next generation
After Paolo Violi’s death, his widow and two sons, Domenico (Dom) and Giuseppe (Joe) moved to Hamilton, Ontario, an area controlled by the Calabrian Mafia (‘Ndrangheta). A 2002 Halton Police report suggested the Violi brothers were affiliated with the Luppino crime family in Hamilton started by their grandfather Giacomo Luppino. Little was heard about them until November 2017, when both were arrested in a major bust, Project Otremens, conducted by the RCMP and several other police forces. The brothers were charged with 75 offenses, such as conspiracy to import a controlled substance, possession for the purpose of trafficking a controlled substance, trafficking a controlled substance, trafficking contraband tobacco, trafficking firearms, and participating in a criminal organization.
On June 1, 2018, Joe Violi was sentenced to 16 years in prison after pleading guilty on drug trafficking charges. On December 3, 2018, Domenico Violi was sentenced to eight years in prison after pleading guilty to trafficking drugs to a paid undercover police agent for more than US$416,000, as part of a three-year RCMP-led police Project OTremens, during which the agent was officially inducted as a “made” member of the Bonanno crime family in Canada, according to an agreed statement of facts. Domenico Violi admitted to trafficking approximately 260,000 pills, including PCP, ecstasy and methamphetamine to the undercover agent. Wiretaps also indicated Domenico Violi was made the underboss of the Buffalo crime family by boss Joseph Todaro Jr. in October 2017 in a meeting in Florida; the first Canadian to hold the second-highest position in the American Mafia.
After being promoted to underboss, Domenico Violi is heard on wiretaps boasting that “he had beaten out 30 other people for the position,” indicating the Buffalo family had at least 30 made men which include Canadian members such as the Violi brothers’ uncles Natale and Rocco Luppino. In his new role Domenico was to “assume control over the operations of the Luppino-Violi crime family and solidify his power base with further and greater collaboration with the New York-based Mafia families.” After being promoted to underboss, Violi is heard on wiretaps boasting that “he had beaten out 30 other people for the position,” indicating the Buffalo family had at least 30 made men which include Canadian members such as the Violi brothers’ uncles Natale and Rocco Luppino. In his new role Domenico was to “assume control over the operations of the Luppino-Violi crime family and solidify his power base with further and greater collaboration with the New York-based Mafia families.” By late 2018, however, Domenico was serving an eight year prison term in Canada for drug trafficking.