Incurious construction company owner pleads ignorance at Charbonneau Commission
Published Wednesday, February 20, 2013 10:39AM EST
Last Updated Thursday, February 21, 2013 7:31AM EST
A former construction company owner who delivered cash to Mafia leaders spent his third day in front of the Charbonneau Commission Wednesday.
On the stand Wednesday, Nicolo Milioto continued his display of ignorance, claiming that he had no idea what the Italian word 'capo' meant, and also saying that he did not understand English.
Milioto has testified that he doesn't know what the Mafia is, and that despite seeing Mafia leaders like Nick Rizzuto Sr. daily for decades, he had no idea what Rizzuto did for a living.
Milioto, also known as Mr. Sidewalk for his company's dominance of that industry in and around Montreal, said his only mistake was to act as a go-between for cash exchanges.
Milioto was caught on surveillance tape delivering tens, if not hundreds of thousands of dollars to Rizzuto Sr. during several exchanges. On the stand Milioto said he never asked what the money was for, and assumed it was all for the Catolica Eraclea community organization named after his home village in Sicily.
He also said that the only events occurring at Café Consenza, well known for its alleged Mob ties, were social activities linked to Catolica Eraclea.
“They're good people that I liked talking to,” he said. “They respect me, I respect them. Nothing more.”
He also said his wife and daughter didn’t worry about his relationship with suspected Mobsters, because, “My wife is a good Italian, she doesn't ask questions,” he said.
He said he didn’t bring his family to the social club to meet others from his Sicilian village, because it wasn’t a place for women.
“Sicilian bars, they're for men only. They're like taverns for Quebecers,” he said.
The commission was more interested in Milioto’s business dealings with the city of Montreal, Wednesday, claiming he was part of a system of collusion, despite his many proclamations of innocence.
Several witnesses, including city staff and competitors clearly identified Milito’s construction company Mileva as part of a close circle that divided up contracts for sidewalks.
Milioto was shown phone records proving he was in close contact with competitors before calls for tenders were opened.
It was a coincidence, he said.
“Was he calling me to say hello? I don’t know,” he said.
He was then shown more phone records, this time with another competitor and fellow Sicilian, Lino Zambito. Zambito's 56 calls, each less than a minute long, coincided with public tenders for sidewalk projects, evidence showed.
Despite there being no clear answer from Milioto, the commission noticed common trends among companies doing all the sidewalks in Montreal: the Consenza Club and Catolica Eraclea.
“We've got savoir-faire. These are people who get up early to go to work,” he said, adding that other Itlaian communities might not have the same get-up-and-go.
The commissioners evidently do not believe Milioto's protestations of innocence and ignorance, and asked what he gained from spending years shuttling money from construction company owners to a man who was publicly identified as the head of a criminal organization.
"I don't think I found advantages or disadvantages," said Milioto.
As for Rizzuto's character, Milioto said he was a good man, and he never saw the mafia leader as anything but a decent human being.
"I didn't see it, despite what everyone was saying... For myself I saw the man, the person," said Milioto.
CTV Montreal reporter Stephane Giroux said despite Milioto's lack of forthright answers, his testimony is still valuable.
"Their goal is to expose them and show the whole province who these people are and what they control," said Giroux.
"Because mobsters as you know, usually like to work in dark. They don't like to see their names and faces spread all over the papers, so that has a lot to do with it."
Milioto’s testimony resumes Thursday.