JESSE FEITH, MONTREAL GAZETTE
Known Montreal Mafia member Lorenzo Giordano had been in prison for two years, serving a 15-year sentence, when he was transferred to a different prison in 2011 to ensure his own protection.
Authorities had verified there was a conspiracy to have him murdered and ordered the transfer, even though he didn’t agree to it.
Three months ago, when he was granted a statutory release, a decision from the Parole Board of Canada ordered that he serve the rest of his sentence in a local halfway house, on top of other conditions.
“There is no information at this time to indicate that this situation is still current,” the board’s decision, rendered in December, says of the earlier murder conspiracy.
But around 8:40 a.m. Tuesday morning, police received a call from someone who reported multiple gunshots outside Laval’s Carrefour Multisports near Highway 440.
Giordano was sitting in his car in the parking lot when he was shot at least once. He was taken to a nearby hospital and died within hours.
Authorities had feared the 52-year-old, who had reached a “position of high status within the organization,” would somehow regain his footing atop an increasingly unstable Montreal Mafia after being released.
Giordano, nicknamed Skunk, was one of six men who acted as leaders in the Montreal Mafia while it was the focus of Project Colisée, a lengthy RCMP-led investigation that left the Mafia’s ranks depleted after a number of arrests.
The investigation targeted six men, including Giordano, who formed a committee that ran the Rizzuto organization after Vito Rizzuto was arrested in 2003, 10 years before dying of natural causes.
Giordano pleaded guilty to gangsterism, conspiracy and possession of the proceeds of crime after being arrested in 2007 as part of the investigation, and was sentenced to 15 years in prison in 2009 — one of the harshest sentences handed out. He also had $100,000 worth of his belongings seized.
Counting time already spent behind bars, Giordano had 10 years and three months left to serve at that point, but was released with conditions to a halfway house last December.
Other conditions were also ordered: that he not be in contact with anyone believed to have links to organized crime, and that he not enter any “European-style cafés” or other places known to be frequented by members of organized crime.
The written summary of the decision describes Giordano as “an important player who threatened and carried out acts of violence against individuals who owed money to the organization for illegal betting.”
By his own admission, the decision reads, Giordano was impulsive, had the potential for violence, and didn’t hesitate to order threats or beatings to get people to pay their debts.
He was a man attracted by the lure of fast and easy gain and who valued “the search and maintenance of a hedonistic lifestyle.”
He had deeply rooted criminal values, the document says. He was first arrested at the age of 23, for theft and conspiracy to commit theft, and was later caught with an unregistered restricted weapon and charged with owning weapons with the intent to traffic them.
While incarcerated, he was known to have “particular skills” that allowed him to maintain order during incidents in the institution. He worked as a unit cleaner and at the canteen.
But most alarming to authorities was Giordano’s maintained ties to organized crime while he was incarcerated—he attended several dinners in prison that were organized by other inmates who were members of organized crime.
“Several concerns remain, specifically information obtained by police authorities, regarding your return to the community in the current context of instability within (the Montreal Mafia),” the decision says. “And the fact that in this context, there is a possibility that you might resume your role of authority.”
Giordano’s death is not likely to help that instability, said Pierre de Champlain, an author on organized crime.
“The murder of Giordano taken as a whole is certainly, to me, a major coup for those who ordered it,” he said on Tuesday. “It conveys the message to everyone in the mob in Montreal that no one is really in charge now.”
The situation has become so chaotic, confused and unpredictable, de Champlain said, that it will be difficult for anyone who wants to emerge as the next leader to do so.
In November, some of the most well-known names in Montreal’s underworld were arrested as police uncovered an alliance between the Mafia, the Hells Angels and street gangs. Among the nearly 50 who were arrested were Rizzuto’s surviving son, Leonardo, and Stefano Sollecito, who police described as the new heads of the Mafia in Montreal.