Judge Throws Book at Gangster Who "Chose Omerta"

Joseph Mignacca fired a Glock at a man with an AK47 in an attempt to
murder Raynald Desjardins, now in prison awaiting trial.

The man who saved the life of Vito Rizzuto's mortal enemy was sentenced to seven years in prison for exchanging gunfire with at least one man firing an AK47 (presumably a Mafia shooter sent to kill Raynald Desjardins, then a major figure in the Montreal underworld).

Quebec Court Judge Gilles Garneau added two years to the prosecution's recommended sentence.

Jonathan Mignacca, 30, a St-Léonard resident, was found guilty in January for discharging a firearm while with Desjardins, who reportedly split with the Rizzuto organization after serving a lengthy prison sentence. Allegedly Desjardins (whose nicknames include "Old" and "China," both rather baffling) buffered Rizzuto from becoming ensnared in the drug trafficking case.

Mignacca was convicted on several charges: intent to injure others; possession of a weapon for a dangerous purpose; unauthorized possession of a firearm; careless use of a firearm; and possession of a prohibited or restricted and loaded firearm.

Garneau imposed the harsh sentence for many reasons, chiefly because the lives of many innocent bystanders were jeopardized. The gunfight took place on Sept 16, 2011, in broad daylight in Laval, Quebec.

Off Lévesque Blvd E. and near a bridge linking Montreal and Quebec., Mignacca and Desjardins were parked in separate vehicles so they could speak from their driver's seats when a man emerged from a location nearby and opened fire with an AK47.

Mignacca used a Glock semi-automatic pistol to return fire. Apparently he let loose enough of a barrage to send the gunman fleeing. Mignacca later tossed the pistol into a nearby river and tried to flee through nearby woods.

Police arrested him when he later emerged, not far from the scene of the shooting.

The other gunman who first opened fire has never been arrested. He escaped across the Rivière des Prairies apparently on a "Sea Doo" -- a kind of speedboat (this must be the first time in Mafia history that a Mafia assassin escaped on a vehicle with that name). The mystery shooter set the watercraft afire before abandoning it on the Montreal side.

Desjardins was stopped for questioning when police observed him driving along Lévesque Blvd. E. He sat in the backseat of a police cruiser and was remarkably composed for a man who had just been fired upon with an AK47.

Garneau noted that Mignacca “chose Omerta” when the police questioned him about the shooting.

The case against Mignacca involved circumstantial evidence. Despite the presence of many bystanders, no one who testified could say they actually saw Mignacca fire his Glock. Judge Garneau noted in his decision that everything transpired so quickly -- in seconds -- that this was not surprising.

Ballistics analysis matched six spent shell casings found inside Mignacca’s Dodge Journey to the Glock that a passerby discovered the following spring on the shore of Rivière des Prairies when the river’s water levels were unusually low. The gun was found not far from where the gunman and Mignacca exchanged gunfire.

Mignacca also inadvertently placed himself at the crime scene of the crime--twice. When he was first detained he told an officer: “That’s my vehicle over there,” meaning his bullet-riddled Journey. 

He also had a minor wound to his chest that an expert on firearms testified was similar to injuries suffered by people holding the same type of Glock too close to their body when firing it. Spent shell casings eject from the rear of the pistol.

“Did he behave like a victim? Absolutely not,” Garneau said while delivering his decision. “Who takes part in this kind of thing? A simple citizen? No.”

The gun that wasn't supposed to ever be found.

Also fueling the decision was the fact that Mignacca refused to help prepare a pre-sentencing report about his life. He instead submitted a written statement summarizing his life "in six long paragraphs," one report said.

Mignacca wrote that he'd grown up in St-Léonard and that his parents separated when he was 12. A “very rebellious” teenager, he noted that he'd been placed in a group home at age 16.

Police who investigated the shooting testified that it seemed Mignacca was acting as Desjardins’ bodyguard. Aside from Mignacca defending himself and Desjardins, he was often seen in the company of the man once described as "one of the most powerful crime figures in Quebec."

A witness spent a night in jail for initially refusing to testify when the defense attorney called him.

Desjardins, 61, is charged with the first-degree murder of Salvatore Montagna, the former Bonanno boss who joined the the breakaway faction but then broke away and reportedly was trying to take control.

Some suggest Montagna was working in cahoots with a group of Bonannos in New York who may have viewed Rizzuto's absence as an opportunity to gain control of Montreal, a vital entry point for drug trafficking into the United States.

We do know that when Montagna first arrived in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) and nearby Hamilton, it was with Ndrangheta members that he met, not Sicilian Cosa Nostra mobsters. Montagna was himself Sicilian, so this struck many as odd. At the time, 2009, there were 15 organized crime families operating in the region, nine of which were Calabrian Ndrines. It's believed Giacomo Luppino's arrival in Hamilton led to the dominance of the Calabrian Mafia in the region.

One theory suggests that Montagna's true plan was to help the Ndrangheta take control of the Port of Montreal, considered America's "front door" for drug smugglers. The Ndrangheta, allied with the Mexican cartels, was trafficking drugs into the U.S. via the "back door" -- Juarez, Mexico.

Ciudad Juarez was the murder capital of the world, with 8.5 murders a day recorded back in 2010, during the height of cartel violence.

(This reportedly has changed. Five years later, local officials say the city is much safer, and foreign tourists and investors are now being targeted as part of a tourism campaign launched by Juarez. "Juarez is Waiting for You" is the campaign's slogan.)

Desjardins is awaiting trial for the Nov. 24, 2011, murder of Montagna.


  1. Well made show so far but basically a rehash of known information.

  2. The calabrians were importing drugs thru Juarez with the Gulf Cartel or the Zetas? I had always thought that the ndragneta helped the Zetas or the gulf cartel import coke into Europe via Calabria, thru the big port there, but never the other way around. Maybe I'm a quibbling but I can't imagine the psycho Zetas cutting in Italians in on the lucrative trade in their own home? Cool story....

  3. Thomas F. La VecchiaJun 20, 2015, 1:11:00 PM

    great article by Dr Rossi how it cover the old time dons as they were extremely successful... especially compared to their current conteporary bosses

  4. The problem with these shows is that by this point, we all know the mafia origin stories and creation myths. What's so frustrating is that we can't know what we will never know. I for one wonder how much of what we think we know is really true. Did masseria really clutch the ace of spades in his hand as he was shot dead? Isn't that a bit convenient?

    tWas there really a massive convention in Atlantic city in 1931 replete with bs gangsters from all over? And how we do know what was said? Did lucky really set up the five family nyc system? If so, why were there seemingly families before that? Was the night of the Sicilian vespers a reality? Some of the accounts make it read like the Nazi purge of the 1930s. Even the commission.... I've always had a hard time believing that all these lugs commiserated together and adjudicated mob issues....esp post appalachin. And why do some accounts hold that galante was the bonanno boss and others swear that he never was?

    History is full of questions like this but mob history way more so because of its natural and necessary secrecy. This leads me to my next point. Is the mafia as down and out as convention holds? I can't figure what's more amazing.... That the mafia is as weakened as it is or that it's even still around in any form anymore. Giuliani made his bones taking on the mob.... But it's still here 30 years later! Weakened maybe...but intact.....and if these modern mob guys are so dumb as the press portrays them..... Then why the hell are all five families still around? I can't fathom how the bonnanos can even survive their Damn boss flipping? If they can survive that, how can anything bring them down?

    I think it was Ed who posted on one of his articles saying the agent who was Jack Falcone said that he ran into stuff the Feds had had no idea even existing. It's my hunch that the Feds have no clue as to so much mob activity and that we never will either. That's the only way these guys can still exist after the massive Rico roll ups, defections and demographic fissure to the Italian communities over the past 30 odd years.

    And that's my rant...

  5. The show is good but there are mistakes already in the first installment. There was no mention of Sal Marranzano or his rivalry with Masseria. Secondly, Lucky received a scar when he was kidnapped not just punched in the face. Lucky also played both sides of the fence with Masseria and Marranzano. We'll see what tomorrow's edition offers - Nick Christophers, Editor of Mob Candy Magazine

  6. I bet that's what happened. Because that's the rumor about Galante and the cigar clenched between his choppers, right?

  7. In all fairness to the current crop, the old timers didn't have the feds up their ass the way these guys do. The FBI ignored them, and didn't even admit they existed. The FBN investigated them, but drugs back then were not what they became post 60s. Just something to think about....

  8. John Coffey, long suspected of putting the cigar in his mouth, swears he didn't. But it doesn't mean he didn't! LOL! We will never know.....

  9. I agree. Still law enforcement was aggressive (Tom Dewey putting Luciano away) on occasion. Even all those guys executed back in the Lepke day. Those old timers were tough bastards, just living through the Depression, etc. Some mobsters are war vets, too.... crucibles make men tough more than anything else.... Roman soldiers, they were tough bastards.... reading great book about Rome.....

  10. Yes, very good rant. I agree with a lot you say. I'm currently working nights driving literally through the five boroughs every night.... only gangsters I see are gangbangers.... they changed their MO....must meet in hotel rooms at 3 in the morning. I've heard so many different things, too. Most interesting, Quiet Dom once spoke of taking the best men from each family and creating one family out of them..... a sort of Supermob...

  11. Wasn't Lucky something of a snitch with that drug charge, too. Gotta check some books....

  12. This based on research. Wasn't Ndrangheta and Cartels busted already working together by Feds? I'd never heard this theory before. But sometimes it helps to review with a fresh eye old books and news articles....

  13. Think about it logically.....Galante smoked cigars so often he was nicknamed after them. What is he most likely to do after eating.....probably smoke a cigar. Masseria very well could have been playing cards but the chances of dying with the 1 card out of 52 associated with death in his hand is very slim. So logic says one of these is true while the other is not.

  14. Louie Bag a DonutsJun 23, 2015, 8:37:00 PM

    Lucky gave up a stash not a person. About this show....it's shit. Mistakes galore...I shut it off as soon as Vito Genovese was called a Sicilian which was to early in the show to make such an amateur mistake.

  15. I honestly get confused, Ed, I read so much of this crap. I know the ndragetta and the nyc mob got busted together recently, but I thought that the only link between the cartels in Mexico and the calabs had to do with the Calabs getting coke from the Zetas. What I was trying to say in the other post is that I can't see how the Zetas would need the calabs to move drugs into the U.S. since that's their home turf.

    The real point here though is that without anyone seeming to really notice it, the ndraghetta has become possibly the most powerful criminal org on the planet. I think they are the only ital org on the kingpin list.... So they share the same territory as the Mexican cartels as far as drugs go.....

  16. Has that story about Castellano pulling the teeth out of the guy ever been confirmed I've read a lot of books and never sorry anything like saw anything like that????

  17. Actually there are rumors that the cigar was placed in his mouth by the press after he died. Given that he was known for smoking them non stop, someone with a macabre sense of humor could have easily inserted the cigar between his teeth. My general point was that we all read the same stuff and it's all been regurgitated over the decades. How much of it is true we can never really know.

  18. Kinda like a mafia Avengers!

  19. It was his own stash wasn't it? Is that in Newarks book "Boardwalk gangster"?

  20. I'm with you on that. No group of people were tougher than Italian Americans in the first half of the last century. They were mobsters, boxers and war vets, over represented in the military during ww one and two. There was just a degree of hardness to those men that you can see in their eyes in those old pics. It's sort of sad because we as a society have become so pussified since the 60s...

    As for the Romans....Maranzano loved them too didn't he?

  21. Speaking of Paul, was it confirmed that he had the guy who said he looked like frank Perdue killed just for that? Wasn't the poor bastards name Vito borelli? Or was borelli his former son in law who he had killed? So many murder victims they need a set of trading cards just to keep up. Say there's an idea.....mafia trading cards! I'll trade you two genoveses for your mint Luciano ...heheh

  22. Don't forget Harry Anslinger, or as Lucky called him...."Ass-linger".....I find it hilarious that a grown man and a murderous mob Titan found such a crude and childish sobriquet so amusing.....

  23. Yeah, I think I read that too!


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