May 25, 2021 – Pino Avignone avoided death. Then, he avoided the can.
Hamilton (ON) mob figure Joe (Pino) Avignone escaped a prison sentence last week by pleading guilty to fraud in relation to writing bad checks worth close to $400,000 at an Ontario convenience store. Instead, he’ll serve four years of probation. Avignone, 60, was a first cousin and surrogate sibling to the slain Musitano brothers, killed in the still ongoing Great Canadian Mob War.
Hamilton mafia don Pasquale (Fat Pat) Musitano was gunned down in Burlington, Ontario furniture store parking lot on July 10, 2020. Avignone was wounded in the attack. As was Musitano’s aging driver and bodyguard, John (The British Bulldog) Clary, who ran after the getaway vehicle and exchanged gunfire with the shooter. Six days after Fat Pat’s assassination, Avignone’s house was vandalized and the word “RAT” was spray-painted on his garage
Pino Avignone was adopted by the Musitano family in the 1970s and raised with Fat Pat and his younger sibling Angelo (Big Ange) Musitano, as brothers. Big Ange Musitano was killed in 2017. The 78-year old Clary, born in Great Britain, was a longtime aide-de-campe for the Musitanos’ father, Hamilton mob boss Dominic Musitano, who died of a heart attack in 1995.
According to court records and RCMP documents, Pino Avignone runs his affairs out of Monello’s Sports Club in Hamilton’s East End and has been involved narcotics and illegal gambling. In the 1980s, he did five years in prison for a murder conspiracy and his role in the 1983 gangland hit of Toronto mob prince and drug-addled playboy Domenic Racco.
Clary is the Musitano crime family’s go-between with the Buffalo mafia across the border in the United States, per DEA records. With support from Montreal’s Rizzuto crime family, the Musitano brothers pushed the Buffalo mob’s Hamilton crew out of the way in a hostile takeover that took place in the late 1990s. They both did a half-dozen years in prison for a number of murders connected to the local mob strife at the time.
The underworld in Canada erupted into chaos in the years following crime lord Vito Rizzuto’s imprisonment. The violence and struggle for power started in Montreal in the late 2000a and eventually moved to Ontario by the end of the decade. The Musitanos had walked free from prison in 2006.
Due to the unrest in the Montreal underworld for the past decade and their alliance with the under-siege Rizzuto mob empire, the Musitano brothers and their allies found themselves in the middle of the crossfire: On May 2, 2017, Big Ange Musitano was murdered in his driveway. Last summer, Clary rammed his car into a rival mobster’s vehicle outside of Fat Pat Musitano’s home thinking that it was an ambush. Months earlier, Fat Pat survived an early-morning assassination attempt outside his attorney’s office near Toronto.
Sources in law enforcement say Pino Avignone and John Clary have been keeping a low profile since surviving the hit on Fat Pat last summer. Clary now drives for Avignone when they do decide to venture out.