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