Accused Mafia boss seeking prison release could direct Canada’s underworld while on parole, hearing told

The Canadian government fears an alleged Toronto Mafia boss fighting for release from prison would secretly direct underworld affairs while living at home with only his wife for supervision.

Vincenzo (Jimmy) DeMaria, 66, was released on parole last month with permission to return home, partly because of concerns over COVID-19. Before he could leave prison, however, he was re-arrested while the government tries to deport him to his native Italy.

He has been engaged in a protracted hearing in a bid for freedom.

DeMaria is accused of being a leading figure of the ’Ndrangheta, the name of the Mafia from the Italian region of Calabria, which is one of the world’s most powerful crime groups.

It is going to be very difficult to offset such a risk

Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) opposes his release, saying DeMaria poses a danger to the public and is unlikely to appear for future proceedings.

“Mr. DeMaria will be in a place to be able to deceive authorities if he chooses to, will be in a situation where he can violate conditions, as it would be virtually impossible for anyone to ensure that Mr. DeMaria is not communicating and providing direction within the ’Ndrangheta from the comfort of his own home under the supervision of his wife,” said Jacqulyn Taylor, on behalf of CBSA, at a Immigration and Refugee Board detention review.

“It is going to be very difficult to offset such a risk given the omertà — silence — that is required in this organization.”

Mobsters in Italy were caught on a police wiretap discussing DeMaria and his efforts to gain parole and avoid deportation — saying it will allow him to bring order to Canada’s chaotic underworld, the IRB heard.

“If they can appeal, then he is not coming (back to Italy) because it is better if he can stay for a while in Toronto because, essentially, now this f—ing mess that is here in Canada,” one alleged mobster said to another in Italy. “If he gets out, at least he will speak.”

To bolster its case for his continued detention, CBSA presented: visitor’s logs from Collins Bay prison showing DeMaria was visited by several men wanted in Italy for Mafia association; surveillance reports by York Regional Police; and allegations that mafiosi from Italy came to Canada looking for direction from DeMaria to solve underworld intrigue.

Those who regularly visited him in prison and who are wanted for arrest in Italy include DeMaria’s brother, Giuseppe (Joe) DeMaria, 56; a cousin, Michele Carabetta, 62; and Luigi Vescio, 48, owner of a funeral home in Vaughan, Ont., the IRB heard.

Two mobsters from Calabria visited Canada last year — Vincenzo Muià and Giuseppe Gregoraci — allegedly to discuss internal ’Ndrangheta business, Taylor said. At the request of Italian authorities, police here tailed them.

Muià was here to figure out who killed his older brother, who led their mob clan in Italy, and ask what he can do to retaliate.

“The Italian police are suggesting that Jimmy DeMaria is the one that is going to provide this direction,” Taylor said.

How much smoke does there have to be before one recognizes the fire?

Vescio picked the two men up at Toronto airport, she said. They were taken to Angel’s Bakery, which is a family business of DeMaria’s. They were also taken to meet with Joe DeMaria. Envelopes and packages were exchanged.

Joe DeMaria and Vescio then drove to Kingston, Ont., to visit DeMaria in prison.

“Is it just a coincidence that these individuals are being named by Italian authorities for their involvement in Mafia association. And is it just a coincidence that Mr. DeMaria is visited by these individuals,” Taylor asked.

“How much smoke does there have to be before one recognizes the fire?”

Taylor said police in Italy allege that Carabetta earlier took a message from DeMaria to Muià in Italy, asking him to remain calm after his brother’s murder. Muià sent a message back, that when he finds out who killed his brother “I will eat him in small pieces,” but he would not act rashly.

DeMaria’s lawyers disputed the allegations.

Shoshana Green said the CBSA evidence is “quite entertaining.”

“There are lots of opinions out there, but in this forum we cannot rely on opinions. We have to rely on facts,” Green said.

He would be a free man in Italy

She rebutted allegations that DeMaria is a mob puppet master, saying police suggesting this “have yet to charge him and have never charged him with any offence.”

She said the Correctional Service of Canada approved all the visitors, even after Mafia allegations were made against them.

Simon King, a second lawyer for DeMaria, said DeMaria will not flee if released while waiting for his deportation hearing.

“He has a large family and it is my submission that he has clear hopes of returning to his family not to be on the run for the rest of his life,” he said. “It’s going to be awfully hard for Mr. DeMaria to attend his grandchildren’s graduation if he is underground.”

In fact, said King, deportation would be the easiest path to freedom for DeMaria.

“If he is deported he is no longer subject to that life sentence,” King said. “He would be a free man in Italy.”

DeMaria is serving a life sentence for a second-degree murder in 1981 in Toronto, when he shot and killed a grocery clerk who owed him money. He was first released on parole in 1992. He was returned to prison in 2013 after an arrest for a parole breach.

Because of COVID-19 emergency measures, the National Post is not able to observe the hearing live. Although it has continued, it is not yet known what has transpired at it.

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