Gerlando Sciascia (pronounced shaa-shaa) (1934 – March 18, 1999), also known as "George from Canada", was a New York mobster and a caporegime for the Bonanno crime family, also the Sixth family's Rep for New York, who was a major narcotics trafficker in Canada.
Sciascia was born in Cattolica Eraclea in the province of Agrigento, Sicily in 1934, the same area as Montreal Mafia boss Vito Rizzuto. In 1955, the 17 year-old Sciascia immigrated to the United States and moved to New York City.
Sciascia was a stylish dresser with thick gray worn in a pompadour style. He had a wife from Scotland and one daughter, and a son. His business headquarters was a small jewelry store in the Bronx. Gregarious and charming, Sciascia epitomized traditional Cosa Nostra values. However, Sciascia was very willing to give his opinion on anything, even to his superiors.
By the mid 1970's, Sciascia was established in New York with the Sicilian, or "zip" faction, of the Bonanno family. However, due to his Sicilian upbringing, Sciascia also had close ties to the Bonanno crew in Montreal, which included Rizzuto. At this time, the Bonanno leadership consided the Rizzutos and the Bonanno crew in Canada to be under their firm direction and control.
Three Capos Murders
On May 5, 1981, Sciascia participated in the murders of dissident Bonanno capos Dominick Trinchera, Alphonse Indelicato, and Phillip Giaccone at a Gambino crime family social club in Clinton Hill, Brooklyn. Rizzuto came from Montreal with two Sicilian hitmen to join Joseph Massino, Salvatore Vitale, and Sciascia. Sciascia escorted the three rebellion capos into the club. Once the men were inside, Sciascia signalled the attack by slowly running his fingers through Trinchera's hair. At that point, our men burst from a closet and started shooting. During the massacre, Salvatore Vitale observed Sciascia shooting Indelicato in the head. When the three capos were dead, Sciascia and his Sicilians quickly left the building, leaving the cleanup to Vitale and the others.
In 1983, Sciascia was indicted for attempting to transport 46 kilograms of heroin from Canada to the United States. To avoid prosecution, Sciascia fled to Montreal. In the 1980s, while living in Montreal, Sciascia served as the liaison between the Rizzuto family and the Bonanno family in New York, managing drug trafficking between the two countries. On the New York side, he worked closely with Gambino mobsters Gene Gotti and John Carneglia. In 1986, Sciascia was arrested by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) based on the US trafficking charges.
In 1988, after two years in Canadian custody fighting the extradition order, Sciascia was deported back to the United States. Wealthy from his heroin trafficking days, Sciascia moved back to New York and established a small construction company in the Bronx. On February 9, 1990, Sciascia was acquitted on the narcotics trafficking charges in New York. Government witness Salvatore Gravano later claimed that the Bonanno family paid a juror $10,000 to block Sciascia's conviction.
In July 1991, Sciascia applied to the Canadian government for readmission to Canada, basing his application it on his son Joseph's residence in Montreal. In 1997, after a long legal battle, Citizenship and Immigration Canada dubbed Sciascia a "public menace" and denied him readmission to Canada.
Friction between criminal partners
In the 1990s, relations between Joseph Massino and Sciascia had started to sour. As capo of the Bonanno crew in Montreal, Scascia was becoming more independent of Massino and more aligned with Vito Rizzuto. Growing richer and stronger, Rizzuto became less willing to defer all decisions to the Bonannos.
On April 30, 1992, Scascia's top lieutenant in Canada, Joseph LoPresti, was found shot to death in a Montreal lot. The Rizzutos murdered LoPresti, a Bonanno made man, without any prior notification or approval from the New York Bonanno leadership. Sciascia defended the killing to Salvatore Vitale as justified because LoPresti was selling drugs.
On a later occasion, When Rizzuto refused to send a hit team to New York to kill Bonanno target Robert Perino, Sciascia infuriated Massino by again supporting Rizzuto. When Bonanno capo Anthony Graziano, a Massino loyalist, appeared high on drugs in a meeting, Sciascia started telling other Bonanno family members that Graziano was a substance abuser. When new family boss Joseph Massino heard about Sciascia's complaints, he felt Sciascia was attacking him also. Feeling that Sciascia was challenging his authority, Massino, in a jealous rage, decided to have him killed.
In early 1999, at a wedding anniversary party, Joseph Massino gave the following message to Salvatore Vitale: "George has got to go". The plan was for fellow capo Patrick DeFilippo to invite Sciascia to a meeting to resolve an ongoing disagreement with Graziano over a marijuana racket. It was crucial that the murder not be linked to the Bonanno family in any way to avoid a potential conflict with the Rizzuto family in Montreal.
On March 18, 1999, Sciascia received a note at his jewelry store telling him to meet DeFilippo at a Manhattan dinner. At the dinner, DeFilippo told Sciascia that were driving to a different location and the three men entered mobster John Spirito's SUV. As Spirito drove the vehicle, DeFilippo shot Sciascia in head with a silenced gun. The gunmen then drove to a deserted Bronx street, where they left the body on the road. A passerby saw the dumping and immediately called the police.
Vacationing in Mexico, Joseph Massino immediately met with each of the Bonanno capos to tell them he did not know what happened to Sciascia and theorized it was a bad drug deal. However, in private, Massino reportedly remarked "It served him right for telling me how to run the family."
On July 30, 2004, Joseph Massino was convicted of seven murders, including the Sciascia murder. With prosecutors intent on asking for the death penalty, Massino quickly offered to become a government witness. On June 24, 2005, Massino confessed to ordering Sciascia's murder along with many other crimes. He was sentenced to life in prison.
On January 11, 2006, Patrick DeFilippo was indicted on several federal racketeering charges,including the Sciascia murder. However, on May 9th 2006, the jury exonerated him of the murder charge.