The Musitano crime family (Italian: [muziˈtaːno]) is a 'Ndrangheta organized crime syndicate based in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada, as well as Platì in Southern Italy and Buccinasco in Northern Italy. Angelo Musitano founded the Musitano family in Canada in the 1940s, and is one of three centralized Mafia organizations in Hamilton, with the other two being the Luppino crime family and the Papalia crime family. Unlike the other two Hamilton families, the Musitanos did not form a strong alliance with the Buffalo crime family, staying closer to their 'Ndrangheta cell.
The killings of Johnny Papalia and his lieutenant Carmen Barillaro in 1997, ordered by brothers Angelo and Pat Musitano, had effectively wiped out the family's remaining leaders in Canada. One news report stated that the events of 1997 "decapitated the Papalia family". The brothers' were arrested and sentenced in 2000, being released in 2006. A power struggle within the Hamilton mafia has been the result of several attempts made on Pat's life in the 2010s, and Angelo being killed in 2017.
In 1937, Angelo Musitano, who was also known as the "Beast of Delianova", fled illegally from Delianuova, Italy to Canada, after killing his sister Rosa, after he believed she had disgraced the family by becoming pregnant out of wedlock; he lived under the name of Jim D'Augustino upon landing in Canada. In 1940, an Italian court convicted Angelo in absentia to 30 years in prison. In 1965, Angelo was extradited to Italy to serve his sentence. "The Beast" had two nephews, Anthony "Tony" and Dominic Musitano.
In 1978, Dominic Musitano, owner of a Hamilton haulage company, Rocco Luppino, and Angelo Natale, president of the Ontario Haulers Association, were charged with conspiracy to commit extortion after police uncovered a protection racket on Ontario's independent trucking industry; after a five-year legal battle, they were acquitted in 1983.
In January 1983, Tony was sentenced to 15 years in prison for bombing a number of businesses in Hamilton, including bakeries. While in prison, he orchestrated the murder of Toronto mobster Domenic Racco of the Siderno Group, who violated their cocaine trade agreement by dealing behind Musitano's back, and also owed the Musitano family as much as $500,000. Tony Musitano befriended inmate Billy Rankin at Millhaven Institution in Kingston who was due to be released in December that year. Giuseppe "Joey" Avignone, nephew of Tony and Dominic Musitano, often visited Tony in prison to discuss details of the plot, which were secretly recorded by the police. Rankin was released on December 7, and given "the okay" by Dominic Musitano. On the night of December 10, 1983, Racco got into a car in front of his Mississauga apartment with Rankin, Dominic Musitano and Peter Majeste, thinking it was to discuss potential drug trade – the night he was taken to a railway track and killed. In March 1984, Dominic and Tony Musitano, Avignone and Rankin were arrested. Dominic Musitano received six years for being an accessory after the fact to murder. Tony Musitano, already in prison on the bombing charges, was sentenced to 12 years concurrently, Avignone got five years and Rankin was sentenced to 12 years, all three pleading guilty to conspiracy to commit murder. Tony was granted full parole in 1990.
Dominic Musitano's two sons Pasquale "Pat" or "Fat Pat" and Angelo "Ang" Musitano joined their father in organized crime. By 1993, the Hamilton-Wentworth Police estimated that the family was earning a staggering $20 billion a year through illegal gambling, extortion, loan sharking, prostitution, pornography, arms trafficking and drug trafficking. Pat Musitano was president of P&L Tire Recycling Inc. in 1992; he was found guilty of failing to make his Mount Hope tire dump conform to the Ontario fire code. He and his father were later handed a $1.8 million fine from the Ministry of the Environment for its cleanup of the site, a fine Pat dodged with a 1993 bankruptcy claim. The crime family was led by Dominic until his death on August 13, 1995 from a heart attack at the age of 57. Pat Musitano took over as boss of the family.
In 1997, Pat Musitano was in charge of a sports betting ring which brought in as much as $100,000 in bets per week; his cousin Joey Avignone also led a network for distributing illegal gambling machines in bars.
Papalia hit and arrests
Also later in 1997, the family was accused of ordering the mob hits of Johnny Papalia, to whom the Musitanos owed money, and Papalia's right-hand man, Carmen Barillaro. The hitman for both murders, and for the 1985 murder of Salvatore Alaimo who owed gambling money to the Musitano crime family, was Kenneth Murdock. In November 1998, Murdock pleaded guilty to three counts of second degree murder, was sentenced to life imprisonment, and named Pat and Angelo as the men who had ordered the murders; he also said that Angelo had been waiting in the vehicle outside during the Barillaro murder. The motive for the "hit" was self-protection. Pat was convinced that Barillaro would target him in retribution for the Papalia killing, so he and Murdock acted first.
In February 2000, the Musitano brothers were sentenced to 10 years for conspiracy in the murder of Barillaro in a plea bargain arrangement. No action was taken against either in relation to the Papalia or the Alaimo murder. In 2004, both brothers were denied parole. In October 2006, the Musitano brothers were both released from prison. Angelo was re-arrested in March 2007 for a parole violation. He was held in the minimum security Frontenac Institution until June 2007 when the parole board decided not to return him to prison. Murdock was also later released on parole in 2011 after serving 13 years in prison.
Angelo Musitano hit and investigation
Since the brothers' release, the police had little involvement with the family for some years. Then, in September 2015, Pat Musitano's 2013 Ford Edge was set on fire in a suspected arson; his home also sustained minor damage.
On May 2, 2017, Angelo Musitano was shot dead in his truck in the driveway of his home in Waterdown, Ontario in broad daylight at the age of 39. Surveillance video showed a Ford Fusion in front of the home and a heavy-set man shooting Angelo. The vehicle was later found abandoned; it had been stolen previously. Almost two months later, on June 26, 2017, Pat Musitano's home was shot at multiple times during the night; no one was injured. Hamilton Police did not receive cooperation from the family; Pat refused police protection.
On January 11, 2018, investigations into Angelo Musitano's death revealed four vehicles were involved, and that he was stalked in the days leading up to his murder. On January 23, news reports from a press conference indicated that police believed that Angelo's murder and a Woodbridge, Ontario killing of veterinary technician Mila Barberi while she sat in her car with her boyfriend, two months earlier in March 2017, not previously considered to be related, appeared to have been carried out by the same individual based on footage of the shooter and the car used from surveillance cameras at the two locations. Detective-Sergeant Peter Thom of Hamilton Police stated "there is similar evidence, the same MO and the black Honda coupe." According to York Regional Police, Barberi was not likely the intended target. Barberi's boyfriend, Saverio Serrano, who was shot in the arm, was discovered to have connections to the 'Ndrangheta through his father, Diego Serrano of Vaughan, who was sentenced to four years and six months in prison on two counts of drugs conspiracy and one possession of proceeds of crime on January 15, 2018. The elder Serrano was an associate of crime figure, Antonio Sergi of Toronto, who was killed two weeks after Barberi's murder. Police did not find a link between Angelo's and Barberi's murders and the shooting of Pat Musitano's house in June 2017.
On 13 September 2018, real estate agent Albert Iavarone was shot outside his home in Ancaster, Ontario, a similar fashion as in the Musitano murder. Sources involved in the investigation said it was possible that the shooting was in retaliation for the previous actions against the Musitano family (specifically the hit on Angelo, according to some sources). In any event, it was part of a mafia struggle in Hamilton according to several news outlets. A Toronto Star summary added that the latest hit came in "the midst of a dispute between two Niagara Region groups of mobsters who are both tied to the New York State (Buffalo) mob. Iavarone had no criminal record but was known to police as an associate of known mobsters in Hamilton. However, as of 15 September 2018, police had "not explained his alleged connection to the criminal underworld and have not determined if it was a factor in his death", according to CBC News.
On 20 September 2018, the police task force (Hamilton, York and RCMP under Project "Scopa") arrested Jabril Abdalla Hassan in Hamilton, and issued Canada-wide arrest warrants, and later international warrants for Michael Cudmore and Daniel Tomassetti who had fled to Mexico; a $50,000 reward for information leading to their arrests was also offered by police. Neither of the two had been arrested as of mid-April 2019. Jabril Abdalla Hassan had already been charged with two counts of first-degree murder and three counts of conspiracy to commit murder in both the Musitano and Barberi murders, and attempted murder on Serrano. Cudmore was captured on surveillance camera at both murders with the same black Honda. Daniele Ranieri of Bolton, Ontario is believed to be connected to orchestrating the murders; he was found dead in Mexico in March 2018.
Attempted hit on Pat Musitano
On April 17, 2019, Tony Musitano died in Caledonia, Ontario of natural causes at the age of 72. Pat Musitano took over as the head of "what was once one of Hamilton's most notable crime families alongside the Papalias and the Luppinos".
On April 25, 2019, Pat Musitano was shot four times outside his lawyer's office in Mississauga, sustaining life-threatening injuries; he was taken to Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre in Toronto. By May 1, 2019, he was no longer in critical condition, and was released from hospital on May 8.
A National Post report made no comment as to the probable culprits for the attempted hit on Pat Musitano, but said that the "family's enemies are known to include criminal groups in Hamilton, Buffalo, Montreal and elsewhere, including the Luppino and Papalia crime gangs". Criminology professor Stephen Metelsky of Mohawk College provided this opinion to the Spectator:
"Given all the extenuating circumstances leading up to this, not just his brother's death, but his house being targeted twice, his uncle passing away ... I think that just opened up a ripe opportunity to speed up whatever plans were underway to make a power play into Hamilton."
Former Hamilton police officer Paul Manning, who specialized in organized crime, also believed that the recent death of Tony Musitano was relevant to the attempted hit on Pat Musitano. "I think his protection just died". Manning said that the Buffalo mob may have been involved but Metelsky said that it could have been part of a local turf war.
Court records from a 2018 matter against Domenico and Giuseppe "Joe" Violi of the Luppino crime family discuss a claim that the Musitanos were supporting the Cuntrera crime family who have roots in Montreal and Toronto. The records also refer to a September 2017 recording made by police indicating that Pat Musitano was already a marked man at that time, but provide no indication as to who had authorized the alleged "hit":
"The [police agent] stated that [he] would have thought that ‘they’ would have gotten rid of [Pat Musitano] before his brother, [Angelo Musitano, murdered in May 2017]. D Violi stated that 'they' wanted to show [Pat Musitano]; that it was a message, D Violi thought. They had told D Violi that ... [Pat Musitano] would be gone; that that would be one headache out of the way".
A 2019 CBC News report later quoted a Mafia expert as stating that "Rizzuto's death paved the way for upheaval in the underworld. There's a power struggle left from the vacuum from Rizzuto". A report by The Hamilton Spectator discussed a "resurgence of Mafia violence in Hamilton and surrounding areas that has most recently included the shooting of Hamilton mob boss Pat Musitano" but made no connection to the Luppino family. Sources contacted by CBC News led the site to state that "some sort of underworld power struggle is tearing through the region, as old scores are settled and players jockey for power in a time of unrest".