MONTREAL - The man who infiltrated the New York Mafia and inspired the movie ''Donnie Brasco'' is regaling Quebec's corruption inquiry with tales about his years in the mob.
Joseph Pistone, a legendary FBI agent who spent six years undercover as a Mafia associate, told the Charbonneau Commission about the inner workings of the Mob in the United States during his testimony on Monday.
The commission is looking into criminal corruption in Quebec's construction industry and its ties to organized crime and political parties.
So far, Pistone's testimony has been about how he infiltrated the Mob while pretending to be a jewel thief. He has also discussed the ways of the underworld, including its moral codes and its list of offences that would get people killed.
He had just begun delving into ties between the New York families and their Canadian counterparts. Pistone referred to a killing of Mafia capos committed by a hit squad that included Montreal's Vito Rizzuto, although he did not mention Rizzuto by name.
Pistone, now 73, is testifying under heavy security at the inquiry behind a screen.
Commission chair France Charbonneau has imposed a ban on the broadcasting or publication of any image of Pistone from Monday's hearing. The ban does not extend to photos or footage taken in the past.
His testimony has focused so far on the six years that he spent undercover running with the Bonanno crime family in New York City, an unprecedented police operation that saw law enforcement get as close as it ever has to the Mafia.
Much of his testimony has been the subject of books Pistone himself has already written, as well as the 1997 Hollywood blockbuster "Donnie Brasco."
He was pulled from the operation just as he was about to become a made man, Pistone said, with his bosses making the call to pull him out. He said he was disappointed to see the operation suspended.
"No one had ever gotten this close to a Mafia family," Pistone said.
"My argument that was we're going to embarrass them by having an undercover with them for all these years, can you imagine if it comes out they inducted an FBI agent?"
Pistone's undercover work led to some 20 trials and 200 convictions across the U.S. But the Bonanno clan continues to exist to this day, Pistone says, and still has strong ties to groups in Montreal as it did when he was embedded.
Pistone's testimony at the Charbonneau commission is intended to help the inquiry better understand the murky world of the Mafia as a whole.
Other witnesses testified last week about how Mafia families function.
Honour and loyalty are key, Pistone said. Orders to underlings are to be carried out without question — even when the order is to kill someone. There is no debating or discussing such things, he said.
"Your sworn allegiance is to your Mafia family: it's your Mafia family, then your regular family, then your church and country," Pistone said.
"But your first allegiance is to that family that you're a part of."
Pistone, who assumed the Brasco identity during his undercover days in the mid-1970s and early 1980s, is still hiding from the Mafia as a result of his old career.