'They have to stop dirtying
my name,' says Gagliano
Alfonso Gagliano wants to know what Canadian government knows about 'ridiculous' allegations
November 22nd, 2004
By Angelo Persichilli
Former Jean Chrétien Cabinet minister Alfonso Gagliano, who flatly denied last week that he has any ties to the Mafia after FBI documents surfaced alleging he was once introduced as a “soldier” at a mob meeting in Montreal in the early 1990s, wants to know what the
Canadian government knows about the unproven allegations made against him.
“I’ll talk to my lawyer and find all the details, now that they have my name and my pictures. Now I want to know everything.
I want to know if the Canadian government,
the ministry of Justice or the
RCMP knew about this.This time they have
to stop dirtying my name once and for all,”
he told The Hill Times in a telephone interview
from his home in Montreal.
The controversy is the latest cloud
hanging over the embattled former Public
Works minister who was fired from
his last government job as Canada’s
ambassador to Denmark earlier this year
by Prime Minister Paul Martin (LaSalleÉmard,
Last Thursday, The New York Daily
News reported, based on secret FBI documents,
that Mr. Gagliano was a “made”
member of New York’s Bonanno crime
family. The story created a sensation
among Ottawa’s political classes.
The documents, which were the subject
of opposition attacks during Question
Period last Thursday, and widely
reported by Canadian media last Friday,
allege that Mr. Gagliano was identified as
a longtime “soldier” of the Bonanno family
by Frank Lino, a former mobsterturned-
According to the documents, Mr. Lino
was introduced to Mr. Gagliano by
Joseph Lopresti, a Bonanno mobster,
during a trip to Montreal taken by the
Bonanno family. The documents also
quote Mr. Lepresti bragging to Mr. Lino
that the family’s Montreal chapter had
“extensive connections, including that of
Gagliano, a politician.”
Mr. Gagliano denied all allegations.
He said he has never met any of the people
“I don’t know any of the people mentioned
in the story and I have never been
part of any criminal organization,” he
told The Hill Times, adding that he vows
to clear his name.
The former Liberal minister, who now
writes a column for a weekly Montreal
newspaper, admitted that life has not
been easy for him lately. He called the
“But believe me, it hurts, it hurts a lot.
This is a direct, violent attack to my reputation
and my integrity. I never had to
go through something like this,” he said.
Mr. Gagliano has spent a large part of
the last three years fighting off allegations
levelled against him for his involvement
in the Liberal government’s sponsorship
scandal. His connection to the
scandal cost him his ambassador’s job.
“I went through a lot lately, but this
was definitely not in the cards and it’s
the worst of all,” he added.
Mr. Gagliano, however, is determined
to fight back.
“This time, I’ll go all the way. In the
past they had innuendo, this time it is different.
I’ll fight back to the end. There is
no doubt about it.”
In the House of Commons last Thursday,
Prime Minister Paul Martin (LaSalleÉmard,
Que.) said he wasn’t aware of the
allegations until he read about them in the
New York Daily News. Declared Mr. Martin:
“Let me simply say that these are very
serious allegations and everyone should
be very careful or accepting or in fact
repeating such allegations.”
Antonio Nicaso, a Toronto writer and
organized crime expert, told The Hill
Times, “We’re talking about serious allegations,
never tested or introduced in a
court of law by the FBI. We need more
evidence to evaluate them: what we have
now is the word of a serial killer against
the word of a former federal minister of
the Canadian government.”
And Mr. Nicaso asked another question:
“Why does the FBI have a picture of
a Canadian politician? This is a question
that begs an answer. Maybe even from
Meanwhile, back in April, 1994, the
media revealed that the RCMP had put a
“question mark” on Mr. Gagliano’s file
because of his business dealings with a
convicted criminal. Then-prime minister
Jean Chrétien confirmed the case, but
said Mr. Gagliano had been cleared of
At the time, Mr. Gagliano said his
accounting firm’s dealings to a reputed
Montreal mobster “probably” kept him
out of Cabinet.
In the fall of 1993, the RCMP reported
to Mr. Chrétien that Mr. Gagliano’s
Montreal accounting firm had done
work for companies owned by Agostino
Cuntrera, a reputed member of the Sicilian
Mafia in Montreal who served time
in prison after pleading guilty to
charges of conspiracy in the 197I killing
of Paolo Violi, a well-known Mafia member.
Mr. Gagliano dropped Mr. Cuntrera
as a client in November 1993 after the
Mr. Chrétien said once the story was
leaked to the media that a second report
on Mr. Gagliano in January, 1994, found
“absolutely no allegation whatsoever
against the integrity of the member.”
Mr. Gagliano was cleared by the
RCMP and appointed to the Chrétien
Cabinet in September, 1994.
Last Thursday, Treasury Board President
Reg Alcock (Winnipeg South, Man.)
told reporters that Canadians should not
pounce on the story in the New York
“A lot of the material is drawn from
the National Enquirer,”Mr. Alcock said.
For his part, Warren Kinsella, a former
Liberal staffer who worked on
prime minister’s Jean Chrétien’s election
campaigns and on the Hill, wrote on
his popular blog last Friday: “This story
stinks. It demeans the media and the
likes of Peter MacKay for treating it seriously.
And it displays, in its essence,
anti-Italian bigotry. I hope Gagliano sues
the ass off of everyone who joined this