Organized Crime: Peter Edwards on mafia family Rizzutos' rise & fall

Today organized crime writer Peter Edwards tell the tale of the Rizzutos' rise and fall. You may be astonished at how much money, power and influence the real-life Rizzuto family of Montreal amassed and how it all came so violently tumbling down....
Vito Rizzuto and Fernandez in happier days. In Vito's last war, no slight went unpunished. (Random House Canada)

Today organized crime writer Peter Edwards tell the tale of the Rizzutos' rise and fall. You may be astonished at how much money, power and influence the real-life Rizzuto family of Montreal amassed and how it all came so violently tumbling down.

When Montreal businessman Terry Pomerantz had his brand new SUV stolen in 2003, he didn't call the cops. No, he called Vito Rizzuto -- the head of Canada's most powerful Mafia family.

The family's boss, Vito Rizzuto, accumulated enormous wealth and power running the crime syndicate in the 1980s and 1990s. He managed to keep his enemies at bay by forming canny alliances with criminals, street gangs, and Mafia clans... rather than engaging in deadly rivalries.

A high school dropout, Vito Rizzuto carried himself like a CEO.
But his empire began to crumble in 2006, when the law caught up with him, and he was extradited to the United States. He'd serve a prison sentence there for his role in the 1981 execution of three members of New York Mafia's Bonanno family. And while in jail, Vito Rizzuto's son and father were slain. Those brutal hits marked the start of a battle to unseat the Rizzuto family from its controlling position in Montreal.

In their new book "Business or Blood: Mafia Boss Vito Rizzuto's Last War," Peter Edwards and Antonio Nicaso document the rise and fall of Vito Rizzuto.

Peter Edwards joined us in our Toronto studio.

The Consenza Cosial Club in Saint-Léonard, chief meeting place and hangout for senior members of the Rizzuto crime family. (Random House Canada)
In 2004, Bonanno Mafia family boss Big Joey Massino becomes the highest rank member of La Cosa Nostra to cooperate with police, worsening the already fragile state of the Mafia family. (Random House Canada)
Vito (in black) and other members of the hit team, the day after the 1981 Three Captains mob killings in Brooklyn. (Random House Canada)

This segment was produced by The Current's Josh Bloch.

Comments

To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.