Hamilton

1 year on, few answers in Musitano gangland slaying

One year on from the shooting death of mobster Angelo Musitano, investigators feel like they're "making progress" on the case — but they're still stuck on a motive.

Mafia expert says police need to invest more resources in organized crime investigations

Angelo Musitano (right) and Pat Musitano leaving Provincial Court for lunch in 1998. Angelo was killed in a targeted shooting outside his home last year. (Hamilton Spectator)

One year ago this week, Angelo Musitano sat dying in his truck in the driveway of his Waterdown home, bleeding from  multiple bullet wounds.

A man who police believe had been methodically "stalking" the notorious mobster gunned him down in broad daylight, marking a siege against the once-mighty crime family.

Weeks later, bullets punched holes in the home of his brother, Pat, as an unknown shooter sent a message in the middle of the night.

A year later, police still don't have a motive for either shooting. Friends of Angelo Musitano say he had found religion and left a life of crime — but in the end, it didn't seem to matter.

With a connection established to another murder in Vaughan, Ont. that had occurred months before Musitano's death, investigators feel like they're "making progress," says Det. Sgt. Peter Thom. Police say the same shooter was used for both slayings, and there was clear evidence of planning and deliberation on his part. 

But even with that progress, police haven't seen much help from the Musitanos themselves.

The M afia is not just a bunch of criminals. It's a power system.- Antonio Nicaso, mob expert

"It has been difficult. We still have not received the cooperation we'd hoped from the family," Thom said.

He believes that Pat Musitano is still living in the city, but the family has deferred all questions from the cops to family friend and lawyer Dean Paquette, and they've had "zero to little cooperation from him either."

Det. Sgt. Peter Thom speaks with reporters across the street from the house where Angelo Musitano was shot and killed. (Kelly Bennett/CBC)

"[Pat] has been offered our assistance and whatever protection we can offer him, but he's politely declined to become involved with us as well," Thom said.

Worries lingered for some that Musitano's death would mark an increase in mob violence in the city, as retaliation loomed — but so far, that hasn't been the case.

"It had been one of my concerns as well, that there might be a lot of retaliation going back and forth, but thankfully there's been little to none to speak of so far," Thom said.

Antonio Nicaso, a Mafia expert who teaches about organized crime at Queen's University, said that's likely because the Musitanos aren't in a position to retaliate. While they once dealt from a position of strength thanks to an allegiance to the Rizzuto crime family, that fizzled after mob boss Vito Rizzuto's death in 2013.

"He's no longer there to protect them," Nicaso said. "They're surrounded by enemies."

Bullet holes could be seen in one of the front windows of Pat Musitano's house after a shooting in June of 2017, just weeks after his brother was gunned down. (Adam Carter/CBC)

Nicaso has long preached that if police want to have any hope of solving Mafia murders, they have to invest investigative resources and time at higher rates than they have in recent years.

It's easy to bust street level drug dealers and thugs, he says, but to go after who is really calling the shots, you need a group able to plumb the depths the intricate power structure, political ties and cash flow of a large-scale crime syndicate.

"This is a problem in Canada. We never put the fight against organized crime as a priority," he said. "If you're not putting the investment in, it's unlikely you can solve a Mafia murder.

"The Mafia is not just a bunch of criminals. It's a power system."

Hamilton police say this vehicle was used by the suspect accused of shooting mobster Angelo Musitano. (Hamilton police)

Thom says the Musitano case is a "large file," and it's currently competing with other investigations and court cases that are ongoing in the city. As time goes on, the amount of information coming in starts to shrink.

"As something actionable comes in, we'll work on it," he said. "It obviously slows down a little after the initial influx, but we're still working it as an open and active investigation."

adam.carter@cbc.ca

About the Author

Adam Carter

Reporter, CBC Hamilton

Adam Carter is a Newfoundlander who now calls Hamilton home. He enjoys a good story and playing loud music in dank bars. You can follow him on Twitter @AdamCarterCBC or drop him an email at adam.carter@cbc.ca.