Mafia leader Del Balso charged with threat­en­ing TVA crime re­porter

Montreal Gazette - - CITY - PAUL CHERRY pcherry@post­

A Mon­treal Mafia leader al­ready well known for his abil­ity to in­tim­i­date and threaten peo­ple has been charged with threat­en­ing a TVA re­porter who re­cently did a story about him. Project Colisée, a lengthy po­lice in­ves­ti­ga­tion into the Mon­treal Mafia, not only re­vealed that Francesco (Chit) Del Balso, 48, was a leader in the Riz­zuto or­ga­ni­za­tion ( be­fore his ar­rest in 2006) but that he was also very adept at threat­en­ing peo­ple. Sev­eral con­ver­sa­tions recorded dur­ing the in­ves­ti­ga­tion in­volved Del Balso is­su­ing threats. One of the more no­to­ri­ous calls in­volved Del Balso try­ing to dis­cour­age the owner of a ce­ram­ic­tile com­pany from re­turn­ing to do busi­ness in Mon­treal again. “We would like it if you didn’t come back here to do work,” Del Balso told the man in Jan­uary 2004. When the man de­manded to know who was telling him where he could or could not do busi­ness, Del Balso replied: “It’s OK who I am, OK? Be­cause the next time, you’re not go­ing to leave.” The record­ing was played dur­ing the Char­bon­neau Com­mis­sion to il­lus­trate the Mafia’s in­flu­ence in the city’s con­struc­tion in­dus­try. Weeks af­ter Del Balso is­sued that threat, he was recorded in Fe­bru­ary 2004 talk­ing over the phone, ap­par­ently while col­lect­ing bad debts for a com­pany that rented tools in Mon­treal. He called a man and or­dered him to pay his bills. When the man de­manded to know who he was talk­ing to, Del Balso replied: “The guy that’s go­ing to make you eat out of a straw for six months if you don’t go pay him.” This week, Del Balso is al­leged to have is­sued a threat di­rected to­ward Felix Séguin, a re­porter who cov­ers or­ga­nized crime for TVA, in­clud­ing a story about Del Balso last month. For rea­sons that are un­clear, on Thurs­day, Del Balso made a re­quest at the Drum­mondville court­house to have a peace bond im­posed on the re­porter. Ac­cord­ing to a source familiar with the in­ves­ti­ga­tion, Del Balso be­came frus­trated when his re­quest was re­jected and al­legedly told a pros­e­cu­tor at the court­house that: “I can take care of (Séguin) my­self. I will put him in a con­tainer.” The re­porter, who was not at the court­house at the time, was in­formed of the al­leged threat and a charge was filed. Séguin de­clined a re­quest for an in­ter­view on Fri­day. Del Balso ap­peared be­fore a Que­bec Court judge Fri­day af­ter­noon and was charged with mak­ing a threat through a third party and with in­tim­i­dat­ing a jour­nal­ist to pre­vent him from re­port­ing on a crim­i­nal or­ga­ni­za­tion, a Crim­i­nal Code of­fence that car­ries a max­i­mum sen­tence of 14 years. In mid- Septem­ber, Séguin did a story al­leg­ing that Del Balso was at­tempt­ing to es­tab­lish him­self in Que­bec City by shak­ing down Ital­ian restau­rants for pro­tec­tion money. Séguin quoted po­lice sources as hav­ing said that it was the first time a known Mafia fig­ure had tried to es­tab­lish him­self in the pro­vin­cial cap­i­tal. Del Balso is tech­ni­cally still serv­ing the 11-year sen­tence he re­ceived on Oct. 16, 2008 when he pleaded guilty to se­ries of charges filed against him in Project Colisée, in­clud­ing con­spir­acy to com­mit ex­tor­tion, gang­ster­ism, tax eva­sion and co­caine traf­fick­ing. He was out on his statu­tory re­lease at the time the al­leged threat was made. With the new charges, he now faces the pos­si­bil­ity of be­ing re­turned to a fed­eral pen­i­ten­tiary for hav­ing al­legedly vi­o­lated his con­di­tional re­lease. The pros­e­cu­tion ob­jected to Del Balso’s re­lease and he was or­dered de­tained while he awaits a bail hear­ing sched­uled for Oct. 26.

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