By Terry Davidson ,Toronto Sun
TORONTO - A suspected Mafia hitman and an associate killed in Vaughan late last week died of “multiple gunshot wounds,” York Regional Police have confirmed.
It was around 1 a.m. Friday that police found 41-year-old Salvatory “Sam” Calautti slumped behind the wheel of his black BMW outside Terrace Banquet Hall, shot in the head.
James Tusek, 30 — believed to be a long-time associate of Calautti — was found beside the car. He was shot in the stomach and chest and died of his injuries after being rushed to hospital.
Investigators believe Toronto-based Calautti, a father of three, was the prime target in that night’s killings. He and Tusek had just left a bachelor party where as many as 500 guests were present.
And while there were still 100 people celebrating when police found Calautti and Tusek, police have reportedly had a tough time getting witnesses to come forward.
Calautti was long on police radar as a suspect in gangland killings.
One reportedly includes the still-unsolved November 2010 murder of Nick Rizzuto Sr., father of Montreal Mafia boss Vito Rizzuto.
Rizzuto Sr. was shot sniper-style while standing in the kitchen of his mansion.
In 1998, Calautti was acquitted of first-degree murder in the death of businessman Guiseppe Conguista, who was shot multiple times two years earlier near Finch Ave. and Weston Rd. — reportedly over a $500 debt.
Police charged Calautti again in 1999 after four men were shot at while stopped in a car at a Toronto intersection, but he was set free once again. And in 2000, he became a suspect in the murder of Vito Rizzuto associate Gaetano Panepinto, who was shot in his Cadillac after leaving his west Toronto home.
A police source has told the Toronto Sun that Calautti was a known hitman with extensive ties to Calabrian organized crime, and had a fair share of enemies among rival Sicilian mobsters.
“Investigators do believe this was a targeted event,” Const. Blair McQuillan said while at the murder scene Friday.
Investigators are currently going over video footage from the area, and are asking anyone with information to contact them.
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