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Corruption inquiry video shows Mob boss stuffing socks with cash

Hours of police video of Mafia backroom dealings, of the sort more normally seen in Hollywood films, was played at a public inquiry into corruption Wednesday.

Hours of police video of Mafia backroom dealings, of the sort more normally seen in Hollywood films, was played at a public inquiry into corruption Wednesday.

The scenes included the onetime don of the country's most powerful Mafia family, the late Nicolo Rizzuto, at meetings with construction-industry players where he received wads of cash and stuffed them into his socks.

Quebec's corruption inquiry has promised to examine ties between organized crime, the construction industry and the world of political party financing.

After months of anticipation, it witnessed video evidence Wednesday of financial links between the underworld and the construction world.

The images were gathered by the RCMP as part of surveillance operations in 2004 and 2005 - and were largely ignored until now. Construction industry bosses were seen handing cash to Rizzuto or other Mafia types; there were also scenes from a Christmas party where businessmen and senior members of the Cosa Nostra exchanged affectionate two-cheek kisses as they milled about a snack table.

At one point a high-level Mafia captain is seen giving a gentle tap on the face to a man involved in Montrealarea municipal snow removal.

"In the Italian culture you don't do that with someone you don't know," said Eric Vecchio, a Montreal police officer, who narrated the video while testifying Wednesday.

"The ties are close." The scenes were gathered by cameras hidden at an east-end Montreal "social club" that served as the Mafia's headquarters.

Significant amounts of cash - sometimes as much as $20,000 at a time - exchanged hands.

The money was often divided into five parts, with different amounts sent to the five senior members of the Rizzuto clan. After one deal, a mobster complained that he wasn't getting a fair share. He was told by another that he hadn't done much to earn it.

The videos were shot during Operation Colisee, a five-year investigation that culminated with mass arrests in 2006 in the largest sweep against the Italian Mafia in Canadian history. The operation helped precipitate the decline of the Rizzuto empire, many of whose members are in jail or dead. The deceased include people in the videos shown Wednesday, including Rizzuto, who was killed in his home by a sniper's bullet in 2010.

But the RCMP says it never used the evidence it gathered on the construction industry, because it wasn't pertinent to its drug investigation. The Mounties fought in court, unsuccessfully, to keep from sharing the evidence at the public inquiry.

Quebec's Charbonneau Commission won a court battle to access the footage.

In some cases the sound quality is terrible and, in others, the microphones were shut off because the subjects were not of interest to the RCMP, Vecchio noted.

The language spoken on the videos is mainly a Sicilian dialect, which caused issues for investigators, Vecchio said. The room bugs also picked up a lot of the background noise, making it difficult for investigators.