'Mr. Sidewalk' says he's never heard of the Mob
MONTREAL - A businessman described by Quebec's corruption inquiry as an intermediary between organized crime, local politicians and the construction industry says he's never heard of the Mafia.
Nicolo Milioto is back on the stand for a second day today at the inquiry.
The retired construction boss says he doesn't know if the Mafia exists or what it is and that he couldn't define the Cosa Nostra if he tried.
Milioto, referred to as "Mr. Sidewalk" by one witness, also repeated today he's never heard of a pizzo — a Mafia tax — being paid in this country.
After being prodded by commission chair France Charbonneau, Milioto said he did know what omerta was — the code of silence and rule not to speak to authorities.
Milioto has been described as a key player in the wheel of corruption — the person who was the link connecting the Mafia, a major municipal political party and certain parts of the construction industry.
Police say he was spotted 236 times at a famous Mafia hangout in east-end Montreal, the now-shuttered Cafe Consenza.
As for the exploits of Nicolo Rizzuto Sr. and his son Vito Rizzuto, Milioto says he's read about them in the papers or seen stories about their organized crime on television.
He said he didn't know if the family's involvement in organized crime was simply an invention of the media.
"What is the Mafia? It's difficult to define," Milioto said.