Hamilton

Home of Musitano family member has cars torched, garage painted with the word 'rat'

The garage of a member of Pat Musitano's family had the word "rat" painted onto it while two cars sitting in the driveway were torched. It happened exactly a week after Musitano, the notorious Hamilton mobster, was shot to death.

Giuseppe 'Pino' Avignone's lawyer says his client is not a 'rat'

Hamilton police were called to a home where two vehicles were on fire and a garage had been painted with the word 'rat' (David Ritchie)

The garage of a member of Pat Musitano's family had the word "rat" painted onto it while two cars sitting in the driveway were torched. It happened exactly a week after Musitano, the notorious Hamilton mobster, was shot to death.  

As first reported by the Hamilton Spectator and confirmed by the CBC, 59-year-old Giuseppe "Pino" Avignone, a relative of Pat Musitano owns the home and was with Musitano when he was killed.

Hamilton police say they arrived at a home between Rymal Road and Twenty Road around 2:30 a.m. Friday. Flames had fully engulfed two vehicles in the driveway by the time officers arrived.

Black paint on the garage door spelled out the word "rat." 

Hamilton firefighters put out the fire, but the vehicles are heavily damaged. 

Property records also show Michele Avignone has owned the home since January 2019. The home was transferred to Michele from Anna Maria Avignone for two dollars.

Avignone's lawyer, Asgar Manek, said his client has "not pointed the finger" when accused of crimes and is not a "rat."

"It must have traumatized him and his family," Asgar said.

Hamilton police const. Lorraine Edwards told CBC News "Whether it's a revenge thing, I don't know."

Avignone was at scene when Pat Musitano was killed

Musitano was shot dead in broad daylight in a small Burlington, Ont., plaza last Friday afternoon.

Sources tell CBC News that Avignone was close to Musitano and a trusted family member. The Musitano family is linked to convictions for bombings and extortion in the 1970s, as well as the hit on mobster Domenic Racco in the 1980s, and the murders of Johnny "Pops" Papalia and one of his lieutenants, Carmen Barillaro, in 1997.

Pat Musitano and his brother Angelo pled guilty to conspiracy to commit murder charges in Barillaro's death. The charges against them in Papalia's death were dropped. Angelo was killed in May 2017 after being shot outside his home. Pat survived after being shot in 2019 while outside a plaza in Mississauga in front of a lawyer's office.

Angelo Musitano, right, and his brother Pat Musitano leave court in 1998. Pat was killed in a shooting on Friday in Burlington, Ont. Angelo was killed in a targeted shooting outside his home in 2017. (Hamilton Spectator)

The Canadian Press reported that Avignone served five years in prison for his role in the gangland killing of Racco. He was also fined $3,500 for keeping illegal gambling machines in a multimillion-dollar gambling ring in Hamilton-Wentworth and Niagara.

Antonio Nicaso, a Mafia expert who teaches courses on organized crime at Queen's University in Kingston, Ont., said he can't say for sure why Avignone would be targeted, but said mob members can be "great communicators when they have to send a message."

"Allegiance and loyalty are key to organized crime," he told CBC News. "To understand the Mafia process ... you have to read between the lines."

About the Author

Bobby Hristova

Reporter/Editor

Bobby Hristova is a reporter/editor with CBC Hamilton. Email: bobby.hristova@cbc.ca

With files from Christine Rankin and Adam Carter

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