Three men who violently beat a 60-year-old they accused of robbing them were cornered by an SPVM double agent posing as a person who was buying the victim’s debt and negotiating with suspects to repay it and she recorded without her knowledge.
Posted at 5:00 am
The case, which represents something of a foray into the world of extortion and debt, began on March 11, 2021.
That day, François Mazzantini and brothers Antonio and Pasquale Piscopo kicked, punched and hit Joël Ayoub with an expanding baton in the entrance of his apartment building on Chemin de la Côte-Sainte-Catherine for a $15,000 debt.
The victim, who was 63 years old at the time of the crime, suffered in particular fractures of the facial bones, a head trauma and an eye change with lasting consequences.
According to a summary of the facts read in court, a GPS beacon had been installed under his vehicle to find out his address.
Investigators from the North region of the Service de Police de la Ville de Montréal (SPVM) then launched a major investigation using cranks, wiretaps and undercover agents.
During the physical surveillance, police notably saw Pasquale Piscopo go twice to the Danesi cafe and once to Antonio Pietrantonio, who police believe is a member of the Montreal Mafia, according to an investigation summary filed with the release inquiry.
A double agent then contacted the suspects, posing as someone who bought Ayoub’s debt and was willing to negotiate the terms of repayment.
Money, brass knuckles and daggers
The three suspects stated that the debt now totaled $140,000. She and the double agent agreed that it would be compensated in particular in luxury watches, guns, Canadian and American currency, a wire transfer to a country in Africa, and cigarettes.
“These guys know how to find people when they’re not getting paid. If yes [Ayoub] Don’t pay, it will happen again. These people know who the girl who was with Jo is. They know where she lives and know her car,” François Mazzantini specifically told the double agent at a meeting at the Grinderz cafe, which used to be on Park Avenue but is now closed.
The three suspects were arrested on May 6, 2021.
Police discovered brass knuckles and three daggers in Mazzantini’s vehicle. They also found 13 expandable batons, a money counting machine, $12,000 worth of Canadian money and accounts in a Piscopo store.
They also got their hands on more than $675,000 split into multiple bundles by one of the suspects.
However, the summary of the investigation will not be examined in court as the trial scheduled for September will not take place.
A three-month “COVID credit”
Mazzantini pleaded guilty to aggravated assault and racketeering and was sentenced to 48 months in prison, while the two brothers, who pleaded guilty to racketeering, were sentenced to 36 months.
However, if one subtracts the preventive detention calculated in one and a half periods, which amounts to a total of 31 months, in addition to a “COVID credit” of three months, 13.5 months remain to be served for Mazzantini and one and a half months for the Piscopo.
Judge Salvatore Mascia of the Quebec Court of Justice hesitated a little before accepting a joint prosecution and defense proposal.
Those convicted have no criminal records and no connections, say their lawyers, who say they have also suffered significant financial losses.
Another factor considered: the victim in this case, Joël Ayoub, who has a history of fraud and credit card theft, would be the subject of a warrant for a sentence that he would not have cleaned had he not been currently locatable and his presence at the trial was no longer safe, according to prosecutors Me Geneviève Gravel and Me Hussein Hassan.
According to Me Danièle Roy from the defense, Joël Ayoub would also have presented a false COVID certificate from France in order to be able to testify virtually in the preliminary proceedings.
The other defense attorneys on record are Me Annie Laviolette-Boisvert, Me Isabella Teolis and Me Joseph La Leggia.
Half of the $675,000 found on one of the suspects was returned to him and the judge ordered the other half to be confiscated in favor of the Quebec Attorney General.
To reach Daniel Renaud, dial 514.285-7000, extension 4918, write to [email protected] or write to the La Presse mailing address.