Mafia leader Del Balso charged with threatening TVA crime reporter
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.