Montreal Mob determine arrested after alleged extortion of priest
A leader in the Rizzuto crime organization has been arrested by Laval police following a complaint alleging he attempted to extort money from members of a religious order.
A police source confirmed to the Montreal Gazette that Francesco Del Balso, 52, was arrested Tuesday night and was detained overnight.
Another source familiar with the case said Del Balso was released on Wednesday on a promise to return to court at a later date if he is charged.
According to the Journal de Montréal, Del Balso recently approached members of a convent and claimed his ex-wife had donated clothing without realizing they contained expensive jewelry. The convent members reportedly told Del Balso they did not know what he was referring to.
The newspaper reported Del Balso is alleged to have confronted a priest on Monday and demanded $5,000 a week if the convent could not return the jewelry.
Del Balso was arrested in 2006 as part of Project Colisée, a lengthy investigation into the leaders of the Montreal Mafia and their associates.
Dozens of people were arrested in the operation. Del Balso was singled out, along with five others, as having taken over leadership of the organization while Mob boss Vito Rizzuto was being detained in the U.S.
In 2008, Del Balso pleaded guilty to several crimes, including cocaine smuggling, gangsterism, possession of the proceeds of crime and tax evasion. He was sentenced to a prison term of 15 years.
Project Colisée revealed Del Balso was a young leader in the organization and had the confidence of people like Nicolo (Zio Cola) Rizzuto, Vito Rizzuto’s father.
While serving his sentence, Del Balso made headlines when recordings of phone calls were made public during the Charbonneau Commission.
One call recorded Del Balso in February 2004, apparently when he was collecting bad debts for a Montreal tool-rental company. He was heard ordering a man to pay his bills, and when the man demanded to know who he was talking to, Del Balso replied: “The guy that’s going to make you eat out of a straw for six months if you don’t go pay him.”
In 2018, Del Balso pleaded guilty to threatening a TVA reporter and was sentenced to a 30-day prison term.
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