Bodyguard to Mob boss Raynald Desjardins gets full parole

Jonathan Mignacca exchanged gunfire with a man who tried to kill Desjardins while he was involved in a power struggle to take control of the Montreal Mafia.

A man who exchanged gunfire with a hitman who tried to kill Raynald Desjardins in Laval while the latter was involved in a desperate power struggle to take charge of the Montreal Mafia has been granted full parole on his sentence.

In June 2015, Montreal resident Jonathan Mignacca, 34, was sentenced to a prison term of six years and seven months after being convicted of recklessly discharging a firearm and other charges related to how, on Sept. 16, 2011, a gunman emerged from a wooded area close to where Desjardins and Mignacca had arranged to meet and tried to kill both men. The shooter apparently had information that at least Desjardins could be found at the location, near Lévesque Blvd. E., just west of Highway 25, at 9:30 a.m. that morning.

Desjardins and Mignacca were inside their respective vehicles and had their driver-side windows lined up so they could talk to each other when the gunman opened fire on both vehicles. Desjardins sped off in his BMW X5 while Mignacca used a Glock handgun to exchange gunfire with the hitman, who got away and was never arrested. Mignacca was arrested a short while later after police spotted him emerging from a wooded area not far from where the shooting took place.

It appeared that only Mignacca was wounded in the exchange — a slight injury to his chest — but there were several innocent bystanders in the area where the bullets flew in both directions. A Laval city bus with passengers on board, that happened to be passing by, was struck by one of the bullets.

At the time, Desjardins was involved in a conflict with Salvatore Montagna as both sought to take control of the Montreal Mafia while Mob boss Vito Rizzuto was incarcerated in the U.S. Montagna was killed two months after the failed hit on Desjardins and evidence gathered during what started as a drug trafficking investigation revealed Desjardins plotted the hit. He is currently serving a 14-year sentence for his leading role in the conspiracy.

The police also had evidence to suggest Mignacca ignored his bail conditions and conducted surveillance for Desjardins between the day Montagna was killed, on Nov. 24, 2011, and the day Desjardins was arrested, on Dec. 20, 2011. Investigators were able to intercept messages sent via BlackBerrys between Mignacca, Desjardins and a few of the men who were involved in the plot. Messages sent from a Blackberry the police believed was used by Mignacca indicated he watched for cars that appeared to be tailing Desjardins and tried to determine if the people inside were undercover police officers. On Dec. 16, 2011, Mignacca is believed to have exchanged text messages with another man who was also doing surveillance for Desjardins as they expressed alarm that a helicopter appeared to be monitoring his movements.

According to a written summary of a decision made by the Parole Board of Canada on April 5, Mignacca has “demonstrated exemplary behaviour” since October 2018, when he was transferred from a penitentiary to a halfway house after he was granted day parole.

“You have been able to disassociate yourself from your problematic fellow inmates and illicit activities. Your interactions with staff and your peers were deemed to be appropriate. You attended school and also hold a position as cook/general labourer,” the author of the summary noted in the decision. “According to your case management team, you felt sorry for the witnesses of the shooting and you felt a lot of guilt and remorse toward the negative consequences of your criminal choices for the victims, your family and friends.”

Despite the glowing recommendations, the parole board decided to impose conditions on Mignacca’s release for the rest of his sentence. He has to respect a curfew that requires him to be home between 11 p.m. and 6 a.m. except for work, school or “any other positive activities approved by your parole officer.”

He is also not allowed to associate with anyone who has a criminal record or who is involved in organized crime.