The man police allege acted as the middleman between Quebec's construction industry and the Montreal Mafia told the province's corruption commission that he's only heard about the Cosa Nostra in newspapers and on television.
“I have no idea what is the Mafia is,” Nicolo Milioto, a retired construction boss, told the Charbonneau commission.
“Is it someone who kills? Someone who steals? Someone who traffics drugs? I don’t know.”
Milioto has refused to name names beyond those already identified before the commission like Montreal construction boss Frank Catania and entrepreneur Lino Zambito.
When shown a police surveillance video from a Christmas party at a Montreal Mafia hangout in 2005, he said he could only identify himself, Zambito and one other man in the crowded room because the video was too grainy.
He challenged the prosecutor to suggest names and he'd say if he knew them, but refused to offer up any more himself.
Milioto’s vague responses were met with a strict directive from commission chair France Charbonneau, who sternly advised him to “reflect” during a break in the proceedings this morning.
“I will tell your lawyer to explain to you what is contempt of court, and I will also ask him to explain to you what is an accusation of perjury,” she told him. "We’ll come back after the break, and you will have to answer the questions."
Milioto is testifying for his second day before the commission. Yesterday, he admitted to delivering cash to former Montreal Mob boss Nicolo Rizzuto Sr. on behalf of another construction entrepreneur, but said that it was only a favour and he didn’t know what the money was for.
Today, he was grilled on “pizzo” a so-called tax that’s paid to the Mafia. Milioto has been accused of being the collector of that tax, which previous witnesses have said was a 2.5 per cent cut of construction contracts for the City of Montreal.
Milioto denied he played any middleman role and said he didn't know about a "pizzo."
“You never collected a cut of 2.5 per cent for the Mafia?” Commission prosecutor Sonia LeBel asked.
“No,” Milioto responded.
His testimony continues this morning.