|Walter Ricardo Gutierrez, 60, was felled by several gunshots on Sunday night in the borough of LaSalle. (PASCAL GIRARD/QMI Agency)
MONTREAL — A convicted fraudster who was murdered Sunday in the city's west end was an accomplice of the once-powerful Rizzuto crime family.
Walter Ricardo Gutierrez, 60, was felled by several gunshots on Sunday night in the borough of LaSalle.
In the mid-1990s, he was arrested and sentenced along with several Rizzuto associates in one of the most audacious fraud schemes ever seen in Montreal.
Police broke up a fake RCMP currency exchange counter that operated on downtown Peel St. in 1994.
Some $100 million in cocaine and hashish proceeds were laundered through the shop over a three-year period.
Police nabbed 42 people, most notably Vincenzo "Jimmy" Di Maulo, an associate of the Cotroni clan, as well as three lawyers. One of the lawyers, Joseph Lagana, was based in an office right in front of the fake money counter.
Police suspected that crime boss Vito Rizzuto played a role in the scheme but they were never able to trace the dirty money back to the mob leader known as "Montreal's Teflon Don."
Gutierrez was sentenced to seven years in prison for his role in the scam.
He was walking toward his home on Sunday when someone shot him several times in the upper body.
"At 9:30 p.m. I heard four to five gunshots," said an eyewitness, who didn't want to give their name. "What caught my attention was when I saw someone run across the parking lot and then cross the street while walking quickly."
The suspect, wearing dark shorts and possibly a cap, got into a beige car with another person at the wheel, the witness said. The car then sped away.
"There was another person near me, we had a lengthy discussion afterward and spoke with an officer on the scene," the witness said.
Several top Rizzuto members and associates, including family patriarch Nick Rizzuto Sr., have been killed in recent years, likely by mob rivals.