Enemy or business partner?
Apparently, in Montreal’s underworld these aren’t mutually exclusive categories.
A group of individuals and companies with ownership stakes in a parcel of undeveloped land the city of Montreal tried to buy are linked to opposing factions in a recent Mafia war.
They have co-owned the land in western Pierrefonds for more than 20 years.
An administrator in the group now says they’ve agreed to put the property up for sale after being stymied by the local borough in their efforts to develop housing on a portion of it.
Business is business, said Peter Edwards, a journalist with the Toronto Star and co-author of the new book Business or Blood: Mafia Boss Vito Rizzuto’s Last War, which describes the battle in the Montreal underworld while Mafia don Vito Rizzuto was in prison from 2006 to October 2012. Rizzuto died in December 2013.
“A dollar is a dollar, whether you make it with an enemy or with a friend,” Edwards said.
The Pierrefonds land was purchased in 1988 by Placements Manchester Brighton Ltée and Gestion de Placements Uni-Dev Inc.
Gaétan Gosselin, an associate and former brother-in-law of Raynald Desjardins, was sole director of Placements Manchester Brighton at the time of his murder in January 2013.
Desjardins, considered by police to be the leader of one of the factions battling for control of the Mafia in 2011-2012, was briefly registered as president of Placements Manchester Brighton following Gosselin’s death.
Desjardins, who was once close to Vito Rizzuto, is awaiting trial for the November 2011 murder of what police consider the leader of a rival faction, Salvatore “Sal the Ironworker” Montagna.
Meanwhile, the names of some people identified in news reports as being aligned with Montagna are listed in real-estate deeds and business registry records as stakeholders in the Pierrefonds property through Gestion de Placements Uni-Dev, the co-owner of the property with Placements Manchester Brighton.
The headquarters of Gestion de Placements Uni-Dev is registered as the address of Crème Glacée Ital Gelati Inc., the St-Léonard ice cream business of Domenico Arcuri Jr. and his brother, Antonino Arcuri. Their father, Domenico Arcuri Sr., acquired the business from the estate of Paolo Violi, the Calabrian Mafia leader whose 1978 murder in Montreal ushered in the rise of the Sicilian Rizzuto clan.
Various newspapers identified the Arcuris among those who aligned with Montagna.
Arcuri Jr. was the representative of Gestion de Placements Uni-Dev in discussions with consultants hired by the city of Montreal to offer to purchase the Pierrefonds land. At least two of the meetings in 2006-2007 were at the Creusot St. headquarters of Ital Gelati and Gestion de Placements Uni-Dev, which was hit with a Molotov cocktail in September 2012.
Other Arcuri businesses were also firebombed around that time, including the headquarters of Mirabeau Construction (renamed DAMC Construction in 2012), in which Arcuri Jr. was a shareholder through a numbered company until August 2012. It was also at one time the office of Pavage C.S.F., one of five sidewalk repair firms that a witness at the Charbonneau Commission identified as getting the majority of city contracts through collusion in the mid-2000s.