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Monday, 19 September 2011

Charges expected after shooting of Raynald Desjardins


02:09 |

 

Charges are expected to be filed Monday in Laval court against a man believed to have been acting as a bodyguard for Raynald Desjardins, an alleged associate of the Rizzuto organization who was targeted in a shooting on Friday. The man, described by police as being in his late 30s, was arrested Friday after several shots were fired in what appears to have been an attempt on Desjardins’s life. Desjardins, 57, was a close associate of Vito Rizzuto, who acted as leader the organization before he was extradited to the U.S. in 2006. Desjardins was not injured and the man believed to be his bodyguard suffered a minor injury. Desjardins, the owner of a construction company, claimed in 2009 that his work is now legitimate after having served a lengthy prison term for smuggling cocaine. But an English version of the book Mafia Inc., set to be released in October, alleges that Desjardins and his brother-in-law, Joseph Di Maulo, are suspected by police of “playing a discreet behind-the-scenes role in the parade of collusion, rivalries, partnerships and betrayals that followed the killing of Nick Rizzuto Jr. Far from being shut out of the proceedings, the pair were plotting actively to install a new regime.” A French version of the book, by André Noel and André Cédilot, was released last year and the English version was updated. Nick Rizzuto Jr., Vito’s son, was shot dead in Montreal in December 2009. Di Maulo, 69, has been described by police in the past as an influential member of the Mafia. He was convicted of murder in 1971 but was later acquitted in a second trial ordered by the Quebec Court of Appeal. Despite a conviction in 2008, for possessing a prohibited firearm, Di Maulo has kept a very low profile for years. Police sources have told The Gazette recently that Di Maulo, Desjardins and possibly two other men have tried to assume leadership roles within the Mafia in Montreal. Sometime after 9:30 a.m. on Friday, the Laval police received calls from people reporting the sound of gunfire on Lévesque Blvd. in the city’s St. Vincent de Paul district. When officers arrived at the scene they found Desjardins and the man believed to be his bodyguard near a sport utility vehicle that had been damaged by bullets. Another vehicle was damaged in what police believe was an exchange of gunfire. The shooting took place just a few kilometres from where Desjardins has a residence on the bank of the Rivière des Prairies. Desjardins was given the opportunity to talk to investigators but he chose to say nothing, said Laval police Sgt. Simon Charette. Desjardins was allowed to leave Laval police headquarters late Friday night and faces no charges in the shooting. Charette said the other man who was held for questioning on Friday will likely face charges related to firearms. But, Charette added, a prosecutor will have to decide what charges will be filed. Charette said the man who was arrested is known to police. He also said investigators suspect at least one other person was involved in the shooting but that they have yet to find him. He said, on Saturday, that investigators are still trying to determine exactly what transpired. The apparent attempt on Desjardins’s life is the latest in a series of violence where members of the Rizzuto clan and their associates were the targets. While Vito Rizzuto has been jailed in the U.S., for taking part in the 1981 murders of three Mafia capos in Brooklyn, New York, his son Nick and father Nicolo Sr. have been murdered in Montreal. Rizzuto’s brother-in-law Paolo Renda, another leader in the organization, went missing in May 2010 and Agostino Cuntrera, an influential figure in the organization, was murdered weeks later. In 2009, Desjardins finished serving a 15-year sentence he received in 1994 for his leadership role in a plot to smuggle 5,000 kilograms of cocaine into Canada along with members of the Hells Angels. He had been released from a penitentiary in 2004, after serving two-thirds of his sentence, thereby reaching his statutory release date. He had been released previously but his parole was revoked in 2002 because he was seen shaking hands with Francesco Cotroni, the son of now-deceased mob underboss Frank Cotroni. The years he spent behind bars were problematic for Correctional Service Canada due to his influence over other inmates. Early on in his sentence he was suspected of mandating two other inmates to kill another who was serving a life sentence. The inmate was attacked and guards informed Desjardins they suspected he had put out a contract on the victim. Desjardins was also suspected of trying to poison another inmate.


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