Family of Hamilton bootlegger fight for control of his lost fortune

The Perris of Hamilton and Australian say conversations have gone all the way up to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Office, before being bounced back to the Canada Revenue Agency.

“Please be assured that the time you have taken to write regarding the estate of Mr. Rocco Perri is appreciated and that your comments have been reviewed and given the appropriate consideration,” Jerevan Singh, Trudeau’s special assistant, wrote them on June 15, 2017. “Since this matter falls within the portfolio of the Honourable Diane Lebouthillier, Minister of National Revenue, I have taken the liberty of forwarding a copy of your letter to her office. We are certain it will be given every consideration.”

That was after Lebouthillier’s office said that there are no records to hand over.

Lebouthillier’s staff wrote a March 2017 reply to the Perri’s then lawyer Douglas Burns stating, “Senior officials of the CRA have carefully reviewed Mr Rocco Perri’s file. They assure me that the only records in existence for this file are those associated with the recent communications with you and your client. There are no other documents or records held by the CRA with respect to Mr. Rocco Perri.”

Monterosso said he’s convinced there are records, somewhere.

Monterosso acknowledges that things were complicated because there wasn’t a social insurance number or death certificate for Perri, who would be 130 if he were still alive.

The Hamilton and Australian branches of the Perri family say have been doing plenty of detective work of their own and say they have learned the post-tax Perri estate money was sent to the Italian government on November 27, 2008.

“We had an informant inside the CRA who told us all of this,” Monterosso said.

That final estate was eventually transferred to Italy because Perri was an Italian citizen, Monterosso said.

Monterosso said there’s now a split between the Italian wing of Perri’s family and the Canadian and Australian branches over how to divvy up what he calls Perri’s legitimate fortune.

Ottawa could help settle things by providing details surrounding the money transfer to Italy, he said.

The Hamilton and Australian branches of the Perri family get frustrated when asked why they should be entitled to criminal money.

Robin Parisotto, another member of the family’s Australian branch of the Perris, said Ottawa took a share of the estate in taxes before transferring the rest to Perri family members in Italy.

This could be proven with a federal document called a “clearance certificate,” which would show details of the money transfer from Canada, Parisotto said.

Parisotto wrote to the Star: “It must be stated that if the accrued estate had been deemed as being acquired via illicit means (proceedings of crime) then surely no taxes would have been due on the estate as indicated by release of a Clearance Certificate, the funds would have been quarantined/sequestered into General Revenue and no one would ever have known about this.”

Monterosso says he’s not impressed with Ottawa’s response and doesn’t plan to give up.

Rocco left behind a massive estate, even after Ottawa took out a chunk of taxes, Monterosso said.

“It’s phenomenal,” he said of the sum, declining to provide an exact figure.

Perri supplied booze to the Chicago mob of Al Capone, at the time earning himself the title “King of Ontario Bootleggers” in The Toronto Daily Star.

He boasted to the Daily Star that he ran his business with guile, not violence.

“My men do not carry guns,” he told reporter David B. Rogers in an exclusive interview published on Nov. 19, 1924. “If I find that they do, I get rid of them. It is not necessary. I provide them with high-powered cars. That is enough. If they cannot run away from the police it is their fault. But guns make trouble. My men do not use them.”

Peter Edwards is a Toronto-based reporter primarily covering crime. Follow him on Twitter: @PeterEdwards3

Peter Edwards is a Toronto-based reporter primarily covering crime. Follow him on Twitter: @PeterEdwards3