By David Amoruso
Posted on April 5, 2010 - Updated on November 25, 2011

Salvatore Montagna burst onto the front page of the New York Daily News in 2006 when authorities labeled him the new acting boss of the Bonanno Crime Family. But before the public and press got to know him he was already being deported to Canada. Here is the story behind this 35-year-old reputed mob boss.

The Bonanno Crime Family has been through a lot in the past eighty years. From becoming an outcast after being infiltrated by FBI agent Joseph Pistone in the 1980s, to hosting the last Commission meeting in 2000.

The man responsible for bringing the Bonanno Crime Family back from the brink was Joseph Massino. During the 1990s he ruled the family with an iron fist, demanding absolute loyalty from his men. But when indictments came falling down, one after the other ‘loyal’ Bonanno wiseguy made a deal with the FBI and told them all he knew.

Even Joseph Massino, the boss himself, decided the oath of silence called omerta was worth nothing. After being found guilty of seven murders and racketeering charges he started wearing a wire on his successor: Vincent “Vinny Gorgeous” Basciano. Both men are now locked up behind bars for the rest of their lives.

Law enforcement had indicted over seventy Bonanno mobsters since 2002. Nine made members of the Bonanno Family, including its boss Massino, turned State’s evidence. The crime family was in serious disarray. Out of this chaos, a young Sicilian-Canadian man nicknamed “Sal the Ironworker” managed to climb his way to the top of the heap.

Salvatore Montagna was born on May 11, 1971, in Montreal, Canada. The son of Sicilian immigrants, he and his family shuttled back and forth between Montreal and Sicily. When Montagna was 15 years old he and his family moved to New York. After finishing high school he began working as an ironworker and eventually started his own company called Matrix Steel Co. in Brooklyn.

In 2001, Montagna was subpoenaed to testify in a state gambling case. The prosecutor was unsatisfied with the alleged mobster’s testimony and charged him with criminal contempt. On October 28, 2003, he pleaded guilty to that charge and was sentenced to five years probation. He had been indicted a year earlier after a probe by the Manhattan district attorney's office as one of twenty wiseguys charged in a takedown of a Mafia crew allegedly involved in gambling, loansharking and weapons possession. But other than that not much is known about Montagna's alleged mob activities.

When the New York Daily News brought the news about the new mob boss, the heat, naturally, increased. George Stavropoulos served as Montagna’s lawyer at the time. He denies the allegations about his client’s involvement in organized crime. "He is not involved in the Mafia, he is not the boss of the Bonanno crime family or the acting boss of the Bonanno crime family. This is something that the FBI manufactured."

Whether or not Montagna is or isn’t the new acting boss of the Bonanno Crime Family, the fact is that the FBI never managed to arrest this reputed mob leader on any criminal charges. In 2009, US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) deported Montagna to Canada because of his criminal contempt charge.

What position Montagna now holds is unknown. Located in Montreal, Canada he is now in the territory of the Rizzuto Family. The Rizzuto/Montreal Family is considered a branch of the New York Bonannos. But the Rizzutos achieved far more power than their cousins in New York and are believed to have separated with them.

Thus, Montagna is an acting boss on foreign territory. Foreign territory that is very hostile. The Rizzuto Family has been almost entirely wiped out by mysterious rivals. Several social clubs were burnt down and Nicholas Rizzuto, the son of boss Vito Rizzuto, was shot dead in broad daylight, while his father, Nicolo, met the same fate when he was shot at his home by an assassin. Montagna has managed to outsmart the law, but he may be in a lot more trouble in Montreal than he was in New York.

UPDATE: On Thursday morning, November 24, Salvatore Montagna (40) was found shot to death in a river near Montreal. For the full story, click here.

UPDATE: Six men pleaded guilty to murder of Sal Montagna

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