UNEASE AS MOBSTERS SET FREE
PRISON RELEASE TODAY More than the Hamilton Police will be watching
Pasquale and Angelo Musitano, the sons of a Hamilton Mafia boss who continued in the family business, are set to be released from prison today and return to an uncertain future with a notorious name.
The pair was sentenced to 10 years in prison in 2000 for the slaying of a rival mobster. They had an uneven time in prison — the older brother, Pasquale, known as Pat, won a grievance against a guard who repeatedly called him “Tony Soprano,” the lead character in a TV series about a Mafia family. Accused of running a gambling ring while behind bars, however, the pair was held in higher security longer than most prisoners.
But their release — required under law after serving twothirds of their sentence — places them back on the street at an uncertain time in gangland, when “organized” crime is in disarray.
Hamilton Police are well aware of theMusitano brothers’ release. Organized crime specialists on the force recited the date by heart and the Combined Forces Special Enforcement Unit, a joint police unit probing organized crime, had earlier opposed Pat’s release.
“The Musitanos are obviously known to us,” said Brian Mullan, Hamilton’s Chief of Police.
“Anytime that we’re under the impression that somebody is connected in any way to, in this case, traditional organized crime, that is part of the considerations. It does raise a red flag for us.
“We will be monitoring very closely,” he said. “We are looking at all of the dynamics, how they would fit back into the community at large.” (Several lawyers who have represented the brothers at their trials and parole hearings did not return calls yesterday.)
Concern over what the future holds for Pat, 39, and Angelo, 29, is palpable in certain parts of the city.
Neither has been seen in public since Feb. 4, 2000, when they stood in a Hamilton courtroom and admitted they ordered themurder of Carmen Barillaro, who himself was a mafioso of note, running criminal affairs in Niagara Falls.
Their plea ended the mystery surrounding a series of murders that upset the balance of power in Ontario’s underworld in the 1990s.
The Musitano name has for generations been attached to the Mafia. Their outlaw tradition was brought to Canada in 1937 by a great-uncle who fled Delianova, Italy — having garnered the sobriquet “The Beast of Delianova” by publicly killing his sister who had dishonoured the family through romantic indiscretion.
The Musitano clan was later the smallest of three centralized Mafia organizations in Hamilton under the leadership of Dominic Musitano, nephew of “The Beast” and the father of Pat and Angelo.
Dominic gave Pat more than just his rotund figure; he instilled in him the old code of the ‘Ndrangheta, the Mafia of Calabria, a region in southern Italy.
After Dominic’s sudden death of heart failure in 1995, Pat as- sumed leadership of the organization, police say. His ambition differed from his father’s, and he started moving in wider circles, including a foray into Toronto’s tony Forest Hill, where he mingled with Mafia heavy-hitters based in and around Toronto.
The Musitano clan seemed to be eyeing a promotion in the pecking order of Hamilton’s underworld that generally placed them underneath the Papalia family and the Luppino family.
On the last day of May, 1997, Johnny “Pops” Papalia, the 73year-old Hamilton native called “The Enforcer” for his harsh grip on organized crime in Ontario over decades, was shot in the head outside his family business.
Two months later, Mr. Barillaro, Mr. Papalia’s right-hand man, was similarly killed.
The hit man for both was revealed to be Ken Murdock, a close friend of Pat and Angelo.
Just months after the murders, Pat met with Vito Rizzuto, at the time considered the most powerful Mafia figure in Canada, who was expanding his influence from Quebec into Ontario, according toMontreal police.
It suggested an underworld realignment was underway.
Murdock went on to admit his role in the slayings and named Pat and Angelo as orchestrating them. In a plea deal, both pleaded guilty to having Mr. Barillaro killed; in return charges in the Papalia killing were dropped.
In 2004, both brothers were denied parole. They said the notoriety of their name was unfairly interfering with their lives.
“The police were always against us — me and my dad,” Pat said. “We were brought up that the police was always against us.”
While police interest in them remains high, other things have changed considerably.
Mr. Rizzuto, who had moved to fill the void in Ontario left by Mr. Papalia’s demise, has since been arrested. Charged in the United States for a series of gangland murders, he was extradited to New York this summer.
No one has come forward to secure things on his behalf.
Some in Hamilton’s crowded underworld said the Musitanos’ return will be closely watched by more than just police.
One mob-linked criminal said plenty of hurt feelings and uncertainty remain and that everyone will be feeling uneasy until things are sorted out.
How that might happen is something on which he declined to speculate. “It’s Hamilton,” he said. “Anything can happen.”
Pat Musitano, right, and brother Angelo, below, served six years for ordering the murder of a rivalmobster.