Do Acquittals of Montreal Mob Leaders Mark End of Rizzuto Regime?

One of the two alleged leaders of the Montreal Cosa Nostra entity was released from jail on Monday, February 19, after charges against them were dropped.

Leonardo Rizzuto still face charges related to a firearm and drugs
Vito Rizzuto's son, Leonardo

Leonardo Rizzuto, 48, and Stefano Sollecito were acquitted of gangsterism and conspiracy to traffic cocaine when Quebec Superior Court Justice Eric Downs ruled that they'd been illegally wiretapped in a conference room at their lawyer’s office. So basically, the main evidence against the pair, a single conversation recorded in that conference room, was tossed, and prosecutors said they had no other evidence to prove the charges of gangsterism and conspiracy to traffic cocaine.

Leonardo, son of Mafia boss Vito Rizzuto (who died in 2013), had been detained since the arrests, while Sollecito--whose father, Rizzuto-loyalist Rocco Sollecito, was murdered in 2016--was granted bail in 2016 to undergo cancer treatment.

Leonardo still faces charges of possession of a firearm and drugs, and law enforcement most certainly will keep him under surveillance, Pierre de Champlain, author and former RCMP intelligence analyst, told the Montreal Gazette.

de Champlain also said the two likely won't be able to assume their prior positions at the top of the hierarchy.

“I don’t think they have the capacity to (assemble the troops),” he said. “Leonardo is a lawyer and I never saw him as capable of heading an organization like his father or grandfather (Nicolo Rizzuto). He is a different personality.”

Sollecito and Rizzuto were arrested in November 2015 in a series of predawn raids in Quebec. Law enforcement arrested 48, including members of the Montreal Mafia and the Hells Angels. Both Leonardo Rizzuto and Stefano Sollecito were identied as the heads of the Montreal Mafia since Leonardo's father, Vito Rizzuto, death.

Sollecito's father, Rocco had remained loyal to Vito while attempts to overthrow him were staged.

Thhe arrested faced charges related to a drug-tracking alliance between the mob, outlaw bikers and street gangs, as well as an alleged conspiracy to murder Raynald Desjardins, who earlier that year pleaded guilty to conspiring to commit the 2011 murder of Salvatore "The Ironworker" Montagna, a former Bonanno boss from New York.

Desjardins was a key player in an insurrection within the Montreal Mafia that allied elements of the Cosa Nostra and Ndrangheta against the Rizzuto organization. The war erupted while Vito was serving time in an American prison and in 2010 claimed the lives of his father and son Nick Jr., who had entered the family business. Rizzuto, knowing he was dying of cancer, returned home and quickly reignited the war, killing as many of his enemies as possible.