MONTREAL - Vito Rizzuto has stepped into an unkown world after an eight-year prison stint, with his once-dominant alleged criminal empire decimated by setbacks and his own family devastated by tragedy.
The reputed Mafia boss was released from a prison in Colorado into the hands of American immigration authorities Friday.
A spokesman for the U.S. federal correctional institution in Florence said the 66-year year Rizzuto was freed around breakfast time, at 7:07 a.m. Spokesman Kim Nelson said he was then handed over to a United States Immigration and Customs unit.
Rizzuto's subsequent whereabouts remained shrouded in mystery.
"Where they were taking him," Nelson said, "I don't know."
Carl Rosnok of U.S. Immigration and Customs said it could be "hours or days" before Rizzuto returned to Canada. If Rizzuto's passport had expired, which is what generally occurs during a lengthy prison stay, he said the process would be delayed until travel documents were obtained.
After that point, it's unclear what the reputed Sicilian Mafia boss will do next.
Rizzuto's palatial home on a Montreal street dubbed by police as "Mafia Row," because several family members lived there, is on sale for $1.5 million. The price for the four-bedroom, five-bathroom home has been slashed by one-quarter — with the asking rate dropping from nearly $2 million last summer.
The home sale comes amid speculation in media reports that Rizzuto could be headed toward Toronto. A Montreal police source has told The Canadian Press that authorities are aware of the Toronto rumour and that it remains a viable scenario.
When asked for information about Rizzuto's repatriation the federal government passed the request on to a Toronto official of the Canada Border Services Agency — who refused to comment. The CBSA spokeswoman said it's not a practice of the agency to confirm or deny someone's entry into Canada.
There had been speculation Rizzuto might appear in Montreal for a family event, the funeral of his 92-year-old father-in-law. But the funeral occurred Friday morning in Montreal, before he had arrived.
Rizzuto was deemed to be the head of a powerful criminal organization when he was arrested in 2004, with tentacles in a multitude of legal and illegal businesses tied to different countries.
But the organization was battered during Rizzuto's years behind bars, which he spent mostly in the U.S. in connection with the three-decade-old murders of New York Mafia captains.
Scores of his associates were arrested. Many have been killed.
The slayings have straddled three generations of Rizzuto's own family, with his father and his son both gunned down. His brother-in-law has been missing for two years.
Now the business dealings of the Rizzutos are under intense public scrutiny during a Quebec inquiry into corruption in the construction industry.
Old images of Rizzuto's late father Nicolo stuffing cash into his socks were broadcast from the probe. The tape was gathered during a surveillance operation that led to a multitude of Mafia arrests in 2006.
A former construction boss has testified that he was forced to pay the Mafia a 2.5 per cent cut from public-works contracts, which drove up the cost of construction in Montreal.
Star witness Lino Zambito told the inquiry that when he had a dispute with another construction boss about who should win a rigged public contract, that other boss called upon Rizzuto to mediate. That rival construction owner, Tony Accurso, has denied squabbling with Zambito or calling upon a mobster for help.
-With files by Peter Rakobowchuk