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Rizzuto to be laid to rest in same church as his enemies

The old Mafia don will be reunited in death with so many of the rivals he supplanted in life.

Nicolo Rizzuto's funeral will be held Monday in the same iconic church as the brothers he brushed aside, 30 years ago, in his rise to the top of Canada's underworld.

The last of the three Violi brothers was brought down, back then, by the same unconventional murder method someone used to kill Mr. Rizzuto: with a marksman's bullet shot into his dining area.

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One dynasty after another appears to have ended the same way. Now their passing will be mourned in the same place - at Notre-Dame-de-la-Défense Church.

The Romanesque-styled church in Montreal's Little Italy will once again host the macabre pageantry prompted by a Mafia funeral: grieving relatives, protected by a plethora of police, surrounded by a broader circle of curious gawkers.

Just a few months ago, Nicolo Rizzuto waved briefly to onlookers on the sidewalk as they stared at the gold-coloured casket of his grandson Nick.

On Monday, he'll be the one laid to rest.

The man known as the last of the traditional dons - who started as an enforcer on Sicilian farms and ended as the fedora-wearing old-timer who pulled strings in the global underworld - died Wednesday.

Numerous crime experts used the event this week to write a metaphorical obituary for the entire Rizzuto organization.

"He was the last godfather," said crime author Antonio Nicaso.

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"Nick [Nicolo]was charming and tough but at the same time he was a campiere. . . He was probably the last one of that generation - a generation raised around rural Sicily."

But the biggest, most powerful member of the Rizzuto family remains alive.

Vito Rizzuto, the reputed head of the Montreal Mafia, is serving a 10-year sentence in the United States for racketeering, related to three underworld murders in Brooklyn in 1981.

It's expected that, on Monday, he won't be at his father's funeral - which would be the second one he's missed this year for a close family member.

He didn't make it to his son Nick's last January. Now, U.S. authorities won't confirm whether the 64-year-old has asked for permission to attend on Monday.

A spokesman for the U.S. Federal Bureau of Prisons said a process exists that would allow Mr. Rizzuto to request to attend a family funeral - but he warns such requests are "very rarely" granted.

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"If an inmate's security level is such that they would require armed guard, and I can't speak to this case, then it would normally not be granted based on security," bureau spokesman Edmond Ross said from Washington.

"There are number of factors, security being the most important. … It's not common that a request is granted, especially for an inmate that has higher-security concerns."

Any costs would have to be paid by the inmate, Mr. Ross said. The warden at the medium-security prison in Florence, Colo., would have the final say.

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