It now resembles a hit list – the names of a trio police sources say were major players in an attempt to reach a consensus over who should assume control over the Mafia in Montreal.
Montreal businessman Antonio (Tony Suzuki) Pietrantonio is the latest target in a series of shootings that began in September.
Pietrantonio, 48, was left in critical condition after being shot Tuesday night near the entrance of Restaurant Imperio, a Portuguese grill in a strip mall on Jarry St. E. near Chambord St.
He was taken to hospital and on Thursday morning remained in an artificial coma, listed in critical but stable condition, said Montreal police Constable Yannick Ouimet.
“It’s going to be at least another 24 hours” before investigators may be able to start questioning Pietrantonio, Ouimet said at 7:30 a.m. Thursday.
The attempt on Pietrantonio’s life follows the Nov. 24 slaying of Salvatore (Sal the Ironworker) Montagna on an island just east of Montreal and a Sept. 16 attempt on the life of Raynald Desjardins in Laval.
In 1993, Pietrantonio and Desjardins were arrested together in an RCMP investigation dubbed Project Jaggy, which uncovered a conspiracy between Mafia members and Hells Angels to smuggle cocaine into Canada.
In 1995, Pietrantonio was sentenced to a three-year prison term after he pleaded guilty to a conspiracy charge in the case.
According to a National Parole Board decision the following year, Pietrantonio – at age 33 – was already considered by police to be an influential organized crime figure.
Pietrantonio might have known his life was in danger after someone shot Lorenzo (Larry) LoPresti, 40, to death on a condo balcony in St. Laurent Oct. 24.
Police sources repeated Wednesday that LoPresti – considered an associate of Pietrantonio in the parking-lot business in downtown Montreal – appeared to have been acting as Pietrantonio’s right-hand man when he was hit.
Pietrantonio hasn’t been charged with a crime since 1993.
During a 2005 trial, he was alleged to have been involved in an alleged plot to smuggle cocaine into Canada.
An investigation in that case produced drug conspiracy charges against a Montreal lawyer that were eventually tossed out.
Pietrantonio was not charged in the case.
His name also appears in court documents filed in Project Colisée, the police crackdown on organized crime that helped create the apparent void in the Mob.
Conversations recorded secretly during Colisée indicated Pietrantonio was someone to whom Mafia leaders turned to at least twice to help resolve conflicts.
His only other convictions date back to 1992, when he pleaded guilty to possessing a concealed weapon and a listening device that only police can legally possess.
Pietrantonio’s nickname – Tony Suzuki – is an apparent reference to a car dealership he part-owned in eastern Montreal until 2007.
According to the Quebec business registry, Pietrantonio is the head of a numbered corporation based in St. Léonard that controls many companies, including construction firms.
Desjardins is also reportedly involved in a construction company.
Montagna, meanwhile, was believed to have been shaking down construction companies in the Montreal area – something police suspect he also did in New York before he was deported to Canada in 2009.
According to police sources, in the months leading to September the three men had been attempting to reach a consensus over who should act as the next leaders among the Mafia in Montreal.
A fourth man, Joseph (Jos) Di Maulo, 69, also was alleged to be part of the group.
Di Maulo’s reputed ties to the Mafia date back decades.
No arrests have been made in the shooting of Pietrantonio.
An abandoned car that was set on fire at Jacques Casault and Joseph Quintal Sts. shortly after the shooting, apparently used by one or more gunmen to flee the scene of the attack on Pietrantonio, had been reported stolen prior to the 8:50 p.m. hit attempt, Constable Anie Lemieux, another police spokesperson, said.
–Paul Cherry, Montreal Gazette