TORONTO – Near the end of an indictment hearing by a convicted mafia boss and a cocaine smuggler, after an organized crime trial, the judge asked the two men if they wished to speak.
"I have nothing to say, Excellency," said 65-year-old Giuseppe Ursino of Bradford, Ontario, known as Pino, who was allegedly the head of a Mafia clan north of Toronto. Through an Italian-speaking interpreter, he added, "I do not feel good about saying anything."
Ontario Superior Court Judge Brian O Marra turned to Ursino's co-accused Cosmin Dracea, known as Chris, 42, of Toronto. After Ursino's contempt, there was a suggestion of the superficial when he asked the same question.
Dracea, however, wanted to speak and court hastily opened space for him to introduce himself and address the judge, where he spoke for more than five minutes.
"I tried to find excuses for myself and I did not find one – other than being stupid, but that's not an excuse," Dracea said.
He maintained that he was not working seriously with Ursino and an underworld figure who secretly agreed to work as a police informant to import cocaine. The informant spoke about large imports of cocaine and he went with him, he said. He was lying to the agent about his role, speaking loudly. He was "a coward" for not stopping, he said.
"I used to think talking is cheap, but now I understand that it's not cheap. Talk is expensive, and I pay now. Forever, "he said.
"It cost dearly to me and my family," Dracea told O'Marra, "and caused so much pain.
"I know I have to pay for my mistake," but the 14-year Crown sentence was too heavy, he said.
"He mentioned 14 years – life, which is a life, which is a lifetime. There are four people who will be destroyed: I, my wife, my children," Dracea said.
I used to think that talking is cheap, but now I understand that it is not cheap
The case against the pair was in many ways greater than the crimes for which they were convicted. It was emblematic of something far greater than the two men in front of the court.
After an often shocking testimony of the government's main testimony – a veteran criminal named Carmine Guido who traded alliances and used a thread to the RCMP during meetings with mafiosi and associates for months – a jury convicted the couple last April.
The trial revealed the secrets and inner workings of & # 39; Ndrangheta, a Mafia association imported from the Italian region of Calabria.
Despite the notoriety of "Ndrangheta" as one of the most powerful and dangerous global crime threats, this case was the first in Canada of a higher court that has declared itself to be a criminal organization since anti-gangster legislation was adopted 20 years ago , Tom Andreopoulos, deputy federal prosecutor, said earlier. The research led by RCMP was codenamed Project OPhoenix.
The group was preparing to import hundreds of pounds of cocaine from three countries through three different methods when they were arrested in June 2015.
Ursino was convicted, among other charges, of trafficking cocaine and conspiracy to import cocaine related to a criminal organization; Dracea was convicted of cocaine trafficking, as well as conspiracy to import cocaine related to a criminal organization.
In his address to the judge, Dracea refused to be a gangster.
"All my life, I've never belonged to anyone. I've never had people working for me. Every stupid thing or good thing, I did it myself. I do not belong to anyone, "he said.
Andreopoulos asked for a 16-year sentence for Ursino and 14 for Dracea.
Lydia Riva, a lawyer for Dracea, has asked for a sentence of five to seven years. Ursino's lawyer Dragi Zekavica has asked for a seven-year sentence.
Zekavica presented O'Marra three letters from doctors describing Ursino's weakened health. He has had two heart operations recently and is in nine different medications, he said.
His father and mother died after heart attacks, Zekavica said. He asked the judge to take this into consideration when he was sentenced. He said that Ursino was on strict bail of house arrest for 1,288 days before the trial, and asked that one-third of that time be deduced from his sentence.
Andreopoulos said that old age health is a matter for arrest and probation to deal with, not the courts, and noted that Ursino is retired, so his house arrest "would have little impact on his affairs."
"That was not a joke. This was a serious business course, "Andreopoulos said of the cocaine conspiracy.
O'Marra is scheduled to issue his sentence on February 28.