On being sentenced to two years less a day, Steve Casale was handcuffed, but turned to blow his family a kiss as he was taken to detention.
A man with alleged ties to organized crime in Montreal has been sentenced to a two-year prison term, minus a day, after being found guilty of possessing a loaded firearm.
Steve (Cook) Casale, 40, was sentenced at the Montreal courthouse Wednesday. The prison term was a joint recommendation by the Crown and the defence.
“Mr. Casale has no criminal record, he works, has three children and clearly has the support of his family,” Quebec Court Judge Suzanne Costom said while delivering the sentence. “Under the circumstances, the suggestion being made is certainly reasonable.”
Following the sentence, Casale was handcuffed as members of his family shed tears only feet away from him in the courtroom. He turned to blow them a kiss as he was taken to detention.
Casale was found guilty of the charge in May.
During the spring of 2017, the Montreal police received information from an informant who alleged that Casale was in charge of loansharking and a sports betting operation for a group the informant referred to as “Mirarchi Clan.”
An earlier investigation revealed the leader of the group is Vittorio Mirarchi, one of the men who pleaded guilty to being part of the conspiracy to kill Salvatore Montagna, a Mafioso who was fatally shot on Nov. 24, 2011. Montagna was shot in Charlemagne while he sought to take control of the Montreal Mafia.
Text messages sent between the people involved in the plot revealed that Mirarchi and influential mobster Raynald Desjardins were the leaders in the conspiracy. Mirarchi was detained and was awaiting his sentence for his role in the plot when Casale was arrested. Evidence gathered in the murder investigation revealed that Casale, who was not charged in connection with Montagna’s death, attended Mirarchi’s wedding in the Bahamas in 2009.
The informant alleged Casale acted as a leader of Mirarchi’s group while he collected money due on loans and sports bets.
“(Casale) knows his life is threatened by another group within the Italian organized crime world in Montreal,” Costom wrote in a decision delivered on May 8, in which she summarized the informant’s information.
She ruled the information supplied by the informant was backed up by other evidence, including surveillance, and therefore was sufficient grounds for the police to search Casale’s home in Laval, where they found a loaded Beretta handgun and 17 grams of hashish.
Defence lawyer Dominique Shoofey had requested that the seizure of the handgun be excluded because the informant provided little evidence to suggest Casale would possess a firearm. The informant described Casale as “a hunter, but he would not risk getting caught with a firearm.”
The same informant alleged that Casale was frequently accompanied by two bodyguards. The man, who was never identified by name in court, also alleged that Casale was “active in trafficking cocaine, despite directives from the chief of the Mirarchi clan.” He also claimed he had once seen Casale handling $50,000 in cash inside his home.
Based on the informant’s information, the Montreal police followed Casale over the course of 17 days between March 29 and June 14, 2017.
Police officers were able to confirm that Francesco Catalano, who was ultimately charged along with Casale, and another man appeared to be acting as Casale’s bodyguards as they drove through Montreal and Laval, with frequent visits to an Italian café on Couture Blvd. in the St-Léonard borough.
Police surveillance teams noted that Catalano appeared, on occasion, to be carrying a firearm and described him as being in “protection mode” on at least a few of the days when he accompanied Casale.
On Dec. 19, 2017, Catalano, now 50, pleaded guilty to three firearms-related charges that were filed against him after he was arrested on the same day as Casale. He was sentenced to an 18-month prison term and, on June 18 last year, he was denied parole by the Commission québécoise des libérations conditionnelles (CQLC).
According to a written summary of the decision made by the CQLC last year, Catalano originally claimed to a parole officer that he was holding for a friend the loaded 9-mm pistol he was arrested with. He then changed his story and said he was carrying the firearm because he was “doing business with people tied to organized crime who were involved in loansharking.”
This article was originally posted here