‘He re­deemed him­self’

An­gelo Musi­tano wrote in a small book about find­ing God and mak­ing ‘amends for my mis­takes’ in ‘or­ga­nized crime’

The Hamilton Spectator - - FRONT PAGE - SU­SAN CLAIRMONT

“You’re not al­lowed to out­live your mis­takes.”

These are words I have heard crim­i­nal lawyer Dean Pa­que­tte ut­ter be­fore. He said them, once, when I was in­ter­view­ing him about a client who was found not guilty, but couldn’t shake the stigma of his ar­rest.

This time, Pa­que­tte’s words res­onate even more. They have a ter­ri­ble weight to them. He is speaking not just as a lawyer, but from a place far more per­sonal. He is talk­ing about his friend, An­gelo Musi­tano. Ang, as you surely know by now, is the mem­ber of the no­to­ri­ous or­ga­nized crime fam­ily who was gunned down in his own Wa­ter­down driveway Tues­day. He was pro­nounced dead 40 min­utes later at Hamil­ton Gen­eral Hos­pi­tal. Pa­que­tte was there, called by the Musi­tano fam­ily. “It’s a shame that all you read about now is what hap­pened 20 years ago,” says Pa­que­tte of the vast me­dia cov-

er­age of Ang’s mur­der. “He re­deemed him­self.”

In 1997, Ang and his older brother, Pat Musi­tano, were charged with the first-de­gree mur­ders of Hamil­ton crime boss Johnny “Pops” Pa­palia and his Ni­a­gara Falls lieu­tenant Car­men Bar­il­laro. Pa­que­tte rep­re­sented Pat while Ang — who was just 21 — was rep­re­sented by Toronto lawyer John Rosen.

In the end, Pat and Ang struck a deal, plead­ing to the lesser charge of con­spir­acy to com­mit mur­der in Bar­il­laro’s death.

Pa­que­tte got to know the brothers well. It was a re­la­tion­ship that be­came a friend­ship and stretched be­yond the court­room.

“I think Ang was a good soul,” Pa­que­tte says som­brely, not­ing he has left be­hind a lovely wife and three small chil­dren.

Other friends have said Ang, who was to turn 40 on Sun­day, had found God in re­cent years. Pa­que­tte says that, too. “It was trans­form­ing,” he says. Ang was young when he com­mit­ted his crimes, Pa­que­tte says and “he served his time and did all he had to do.” And yet, Hamil­ton won’t let his past go. His fam­ily name was an al­ba­tross around his neck.

That is what Pa­que­tte means when he speaks of not be­ing al­lowed to out­live mis­takes.

But there is an even more sin­is­ter im­pli­ca­tion, too, if Ang was tar­geted as re­venge for his old crimes.

Pat was al­ways very pro­tec­tive of his kid brother and it was tough for them to stay away from each other to com­ply with their pa­role con­di­tions after prison, says Pa­que­tte. But once those con­di­tions were lifted, “they re­sumed their close re­la­tion­ship. A lov­ing re­la­tion­ship.”

At Pat’s home on pretty St. Clair Boule­vard Wed­nes­day, black-clad mourn­ers ar­rived in a steady stream.

They gath­ered on the big front porch and lawn, greeting one an­other with tight em­braces.

One fam­ily mem­ber greeted me with an out­stretched hand and a firm hand­shake, seem­ing to know who I was be­fore I said a word.

“We re­ally have noth­ing to say right now,” he said po­litely. “I know you have a job to do, but we have noth­ing to say.”

In a small book re­cently pub­lished in con­nec­tion to a Chris­tian faith group he was in­volved with, Ang wrote his own tes­ti­mo­nial about the twists and turns his life has taken:

“There are some who will know me by my name alone and will re­call my past his­tory. There are those who will sit in judg­ment of me be­cause of my past, but these are the peo­ple who do not re­ally know me. If you don’t rec­og­nize my name, let me tell you a lit­tle about my life be­fore Christ.

“I was born into a fam­ily — not just any fam­ily, but ‘The Fam­ily.’ In other words, a fam­ily as­so­ci­ated with or­ga­nized crime.”

He writes of pick­ing up a friend’s Bi­ble, read­ing a pas­sage about “liv­ing to please God” and then driv­ing to a book store to buy his own Bi­ble.

“I made amends with God for my mis­takes and He blessed me with peace and love. It all boils down to love of self and love for one an­other and trust­ing in Him. That is the key to God’s grace.”

Above: De­tec­tives Jason Cat­tle, right, and Peter Thom probe Musi­tano’s home Wed­nes­day.

Left: A po­lice photo of Musi­tano from Novem­ber 1998

JOHN REN­NI­SON, THE HAMIL­TON SPEC­TA­TOR

Po­lice tape still sur­rounds the home of An­gelo Musi­tano at 14 Ch­e­sa­peake Dr. in Wa­ter­down Wed­nes­day. He was fa­tally shot in his car in his driveway Tues­day afternoon in a killing that has the hall­marks of a mob hit.

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