The son-in-law of longtime underworld figure Rocco Zito has turned himself in to police after Zito was shot dead in his home early Friday evening.
Domenico Scopelliti, 51, of Toronto, reported to police late Friday to face first-degree murder charges, hours after Zito, 87, was killed in his home on Playfair Ave., near Caledonia Rd. Emergency responders had tried to save Zito’s life but he was pronounced dead on scene, paramedics said.
Zito’s old associates included Nicolo Rizzuto, a murdered Montreal mobster, and Tomasso Buscetta, a former Sicilian Mafia leader who became a turncoat in the 1980s, according to police sources.
A police officer who specializes in organized crime said Zito was considered to be retired from the underworld.
Police were called to Zito’s brick ranch-style home shortly after 5 p.m. Friday.
Efforts to save the grandfather’s life failed and he was pronounced dead on scene.
Zito didn’t look the part of a mob boss or a powerful man, and a police officer who knew him described him as polite and respectful.
He stood just 5-foot-2 and drove a nondescript Chevrolet Malibu.
Zito worked as a waiter shortly after coming to Canada in the 1960s and later listed his occupation as a ceramic tile saleman.
Police believed he made his real money from gambling, drug trafficking and currency counterfeiting.
Police also suspected him of providing documents to Sicilian mobsters fleeing police crackdowns during the 1980s.
He was also involved in money-lending and was sentenced to four and a half years in prison in 1986, after pleading guilty to manslaughter for clubbing a man to death with a liqueur bottle, over an unpaid debt.
His unassuming appearance belied the fact he was considered by police to have been a leader of the local Calabrian Mafia, or ’Ndrangheta, who once sat on its governing body, called La Camera di Controllo or the Crimini.
According to court documents from his birthplace of Fiumara in Reggio Calabria, Italy, his uncle was the leader of a criminal gang in Calabria.
Zito’s brother Giuseppe was murdered in 1975 in a ’Ndrangheta power struggle in Calabria.
Zito’s father, Domenico, was refused landed immigrant status and deported from Canada because he had been convicted years earlier of being a member of the ’Ndrangheta in Fiumara.
In Canada, his roots in organized crime ran deep and stretched to New York, Montreal and Italy, police sources said.
When police arrested former Mafia leader Paolo Violi in 1960 in Toronto for running bootleg liquor, they found Zito’s phone number on him.
Violi was later murdered in Montreal after becoming head of the Cotroni crime family there.
Zito’s other associates included former Scarborough resident Alberto Agueci, who was tortured and murdered in 1961 after threatening to inform on the Magaddino crime family of Buffalo.
In 1967, Zito’s name came came up when police bugged the tomato plants of Hamilton ’Ndrangheta leader Giacomo Luppino, who was Violi’s son-in-law.
In those tapes, Luppino said he constantly heard about Zito and understood that he was in the money.
Two of the other original members of the Camera di Controllo — Salvatore Triumbari and Filippo Vendemini — were murdered in 1967 and 1969, respectively.