NEWS

Tony Accurso named in Italian anti-Mafia police documents

10/08/2014 01:14 EDT | Updated 12/08/2014 05:59 EST
Are the links between Tony Accurso, former Montreal construction magnate, and the Mafia stronger than what was established during his Charbonneau Commission testimony?

Italian police documents obtained by Radio-Canada’s investigative program Enquête mention a certain Anthony working for the Mafia who, according to police, could be Tony Accurso.

Last month, during Accurso’s testimony at the Quebec corruption inquiry, the name of Joseph Zappia came up.

Zappia is an entrepreneur who played a major role in the building of Montreal’s Olympic Village in the 1970s.

Accurso said he recognized the name, but didn’t know the man. He denied having a business relationship with Zappia.

Now Zappia lives in Rome, Italy. He was described by Italian police in 2005 as the legal front for a major money-laundering scheme operated by the Rizzuto family for the construction of the Messina Bridge.

The original project, which was cancelled in 2006 because of its apparent ties to the Mafia, would have connected Sicily to Italy’s mainland.

Zappia in 2010 was sentenced to three years in prison for his role in the Messina Bridge debacle, although he won his appeal two years ago to have the verdict overturned.

Tapped telephone conversations

Documents filed by the Italian anti-Mafia police force as evidence during Zappia’s trial detailed a number of his tapped telephone calls.

In Zappia’s calls, the name of Tony Accurso is mentioned a few times.

In one of the recorded conversations from 2003, Zappia and his sister Nancy — who was close to Accurso’s father James — talk about a man named Anthony and amounts of money being funnelled to Panama.

"Now Anthony works for the Mafia. There is a Mafioso in the group," Zappia told sister Nancy on the phone.

According to preliminary checks made by Italian police, the Anthony in question was likely Tony Accurso.

Accurso was not a target of this particular investigation conducted by Italian police.

These revelations come after testimony at the Charbonneau Commission detailing repeated contact between Accurso and the Mafia.

Accurso told the corruption inquiry that he had contact with the Rizzutos and Filippo Ranieri, the Rizzuto family’s middle man who was also investigated by Italian police.

The corruption inquiry also heard that Accurso had at least two encounters with powerful Rizzuto family associate Raynald Desjardins.

Too many coincidences?

For Yves Messier, a retired criminal intelligence officer with the Sûreté du Québec, these documents help shed light on Accurso’s network and relationship with the Mafia.

Although Accurso has repeatedly denied ever having worked for the Mafia and told the corruption inquiry that the Rizzutos were only minor contacts, Messier said there are simply too many coincidences.

"We can’t just look at one event. We have to look at the totality of these events," Messier said. "For me, there are too many coincidences to say that these are minor contacts."

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