Serious Unfinished Business: Tony Magi Murder Followed Years Of Montreal Mafia Violence

In the aftermath of former Montreal Mafia boss Vito Rizzuto's January 2004 arrest (following the flipping of Bonanno boss Joseph Massino, who revealed Vito's role in a 1981 triple homicide in New York City), more than 40 people were murdered, abducted, or vanished under mysterious circumstances in and around Montreal.

Tony Magi outside a Montreal court in 2010.
Tony Magi outside a Montreal court in 2010.

Many of the cases were tied to the Mafia, many specifically over unpaid debts, though sometimes other inferences could be drawn.

On January 19, 2004, for instance, Carmelo Tommasino called home to tell his wife that he would be unable to pick up their young daughter at school that day. "Why? What's happened" his wife asked. Without providing anything by way of an explanation, he hung up the phone and was never seen or heard from again.

Since then, the Journal de Montreal has reported  (in French) that Tommasino was killed accidentally during the murder of Paolo Gervasi, who was gunned down on the same day. The Journal is the largest circulation newspaper in Quebec and is also the largest French-language daily newspaper in North America.

Gervasi, the former owner of the Castel Tina strip club, had had a falling out with the Sicilian Mafia clan, and was shot to death by Giuseppe (Ponytail) De Vito, who allegedly killed more than 20 people, as per the Journal. (In a horrifying twist, the pitiless hit man would find the tables turned and would suffer his own shocking tragedy: Ponytail's own wife would murder their two young daughters.)

De Vito, who once worked at the strip club, shot Gervasi to death as he got behind the wheel of his Jeep after leaving a pastry shop on Jean-Talon Street. (The former club owner allegedly had been asking too many questions about the murder of his son, Salvatore, who was killed four years prior at age 31 owing to reputed ties to the Rock Machine motorcycle club.) Supposedly, Tommasino had been hit by friendly fire during the commission of the Gervasi murder. Rather than drop Tommasino off at the nearest hospital, Ponytail and others involved in the hit had simply finished him off, then took his body out to the woods and burned it.

Murder, Not Suicide
On July 11, 2013, a prison guard found De Vito dead in his cell. He had died from cyanide poisoning.

A report obtained by the Montreal Gazette in November 2015 revealed that Correctional Service Canada staff saw no signs that De Vito was suicidal before he died inside a federal penitentiary.

Giuseppe (Ponytail) De Vito
Ponytail likely did not die by his own hand, but Vito's....

The report "is another sign De Vito, one of the leaders behind a failed attempt to replace the Rizzuto organization at the top of the Mafia in Montreal, was murdered," the Gazette noted.

A Quebec coroner who investigated De Vito’s death found cyanide in his body.

Two months before he died, De Vito told a jury he blamed himself for the death of his two daughters at the hands of their mother, Adele Sorella.

The girls – Sabrina, 8, and Amanda, 9 – were murdered in 2009 by Sorella. At the time, Sorella was allegedly under stress caused, in part, by De Vito’s absence. In 2006, De Vito went into hiding to try and avoid arrest in Project Colisée, but he was arrested in 2010 and was later convicted of taking part in a conspiracy to smuggle vast quantities of cocaine into Canada through Pierre Elliott Trudeau International Airport. At the time of his death, De Vito was serving an 11-year and 7-month sentence at the Donnacona Institution, a maximum-security penitentiary near Quebec City. Ponytail's release date would've been Jan 19, 2024.

His wife is currently on trial for the murders. Last week it was reported that Adele Sorella will testify in her defence at the trial in which she is charged with the first-degree murders of her two young daughters.

Then in February 2005, Calabrian mobster Domenico Cordeleone was kidnapped, most likely over a drug debt, but he was eventually released.

And that April, Antonio (Tony) Magi, the Montreal construction magnate who had close ties to the Mafia and was often seen in the company of Rizzuto family members, was abducted. Two strangers stopped him on Saint-Jacques Street in LaSalle, handcuffed him and took him to a house in Laval.

Magi and his brother Rino had been prominent developers in Montreal for many years. Then, in the early 2000s, their real estate business fell into financial trouble. While Rino got snagged in a telemarketing fraud case, Tony became embroiled in an ambitious luxury condo project in Montreal’s Old Port, a $71-million project to convert an old warehouse on the waterfront.

The 2014 Charbonneau Commission, a public inquiry into corruption in Quebec’s construction industry, obtained evidence about how when the condo project’s financing fell apart, Vito Rizzuto came to the rescue. On wiretaps of phone calls between Rizzuto and Magi, Rizzuto promised the condo project would be “one of the hottest places in the city.”

Magi and Rizzuto were business partners from 2003 to 2005, and Rizzuto’s son Nick went on to work with Magi in the construction business.

But once Vito was gone, Magi quickly spiralled downward. As did Vito's son.

Vito Rizzuto, former boss of Montreal Cosa Nostra.
Vito Rizzuto, former boss of the Montreal Cosa Nostra.

In his own version of the events of April 2005, Magi had broken free of the restraints imposed on him by his captors and fled. After reaching his home, rather than calling police, he called Vito Rizzuto’s son Nick Jr. and arranged to meet him at the Bar Laennec in Laval with Francesco Del Balso and Antonio (Tony) Volpato, who became famous for attending the October 2011 wedding of the daughter of onetime Rizzuto confidant Raynald Desjardins, who went on to head an insurrection against the Rizzutos. In 2011, Desjardins carried out the execution of former Bonanno acting boss Salvatore (The Ironworker) Montagna. In fact, several members of the Montagna hit squad had attended Desjardins' daughter's wedding.

Much worse (but nothing like the recent worst) was in store for Magi in the early morning hours of Aug. 11, 2008, when he stopped at a traffic light in his Range Rover and was sprayed with gunfire. One bullet hit the back of his head; a second caught him in his back shoulder; and a third shattered his ribs. The Montreal Gazette reported the shooting as an “underworld settling of accounts,” and police investigators noted their view that Magi’s mob protection faltered after Vito Rizzuto was extradited to the U.S. in 2006 to face racketeering charges.

Vito Rizzuto allegedly died of cancer in December 2013.

Magi was in a coma for weeks after the shooting, but survived.

In 2010, Magi was arrested on five firearms charges as part of an organized crime operation by Montreal police. Court documents later showed that police acted on information his bodyguards were carrying illegal weapons.

Nick Rizzuto Jr. was murdered in a 2009 shooting near the Montreal offices of Magi’s company, FTM Construction.

Ducarme Joseph, an enforcer for Magi, barely escaped a 2010 shooting at a clothing boutique that saw two others killed; Joseph was arrested the next day at Magi’s office. Years later, in August 2014, Joseph was shot dead in St. Michel, by which time he was identified as having alleged involvement in the 2009 shooting death of Nick Rizzuto Jr., son of the deceased Vito Rizzuto, formerly the powerful head of the Mafia in Montreal.

Vanessa Desjardins
Vanessa Desjardins in 2013

Magi’s wife, Rita Biasini, barely escaped death in 2011 when a gunman opened fire on her car at 8:40 a.m. in a residential neighbourhood. She sped away and hid at a police station.

By that point, according to one news report, Magi was travelling in an armoured car.

In 2013, Magi’s security guards chased off an armed man approaching his home.

Then, last week, Montreal police responded to a 911 call reporting gunshots in the neighbourhood of Notre-Dame-de-Grâce. Upon arrival, they found Magi lying unconscious on the sidewalk outside a construction site, shot at least once. He died shortly afterward.

The shooting, as with the past attempts on the life of Magi and his wife, came in broad daylight. A Montreal police spokesperson said they’re looking for witnesses, and will review security camera footage from the area.

Nobody who has attempted to kill Magi in the past has ever been found, as per reports.