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Tag: Detroit

Detroit’s Reputed Godfather Jack Tocco Dead at 87

Featured_jack_tocco_13369Jack Tocco

By Allan Lengel
Deadline Detroit

DETROIT — Giacomo “Black Jack” Tocco, the reputed head of the Detroit Mafia for more than three decades, who kept a relatively low profile — more so than infamous mob brothers Vito and Anthony Giacalone —  died Monday night at age 87, mob expert Scott Burnstein of the Oakland Press reported.

Tocco, who was long suspected of having ties to the 1975 disappearance of James Hoffa, died of natural causes according to Bagnasco & Calcaterra Funeral Home in Sterling Heights. The funeral will be Friday.

Raised in the upscale Windmill Pointe section of Grosse Pointe Park, Tocco earned a finance degree from the University of Detroit In 1949, according to an entry in Wikipedia.

He went on to own businesses around the state and built an impressive real estate portfolio, all while managing to maintain a fairly low profile, particularly when it came to media attention. The Giacalone brothers, who were capos, and underlings of Tocco,  had far more recognizable names in Metro Detroit.

“Jack was very low-profile, highly intelligent and business savvy and really the opposite of what people would view as a typical gangster, the kind you see in movies and on television,” retired FBI agent Mike Carone told the Oakland Press.  “I think that’s why he was able to stay under the radar for such a long time and avoid a lot of the pitfalls of being a mob boss, such as violence and long prison sentences. He was one of the last of a dying era.”

Tocco’s only felony conviction came in 1998 in a major racketeering case, which sent him off to federal prison for two years. Before that, his only previous conviction was for attending an illegal cock fight, according to a history of the Detroit mob on the FBI’s website.

Burnstein writes that Tocco owned the Hazel Park Raceway for more than four decades. Last summer, FBI agents searched former property he owned in northern Oakland County, looking for Hoffa’s body. The search set off a circus-like atmosphere — replete with an army of FBI agents, the media and curious neighbors. The feds came up empty.

The tip came from the former second in command of the Detroit mob, Anthony “Tony Z” Zerilli, a now elderly man who was Tocco’s first cousin. Zerilli, who was in prison at the time of Hoffa’s disappearance, told the feds that he was informed of what happen to Hoffa after he left prison. He fell out of favor with the mob. 

Burnstein wrote:

Prior to his passing, Tocco was considered the most-tenured mob don in the United States, having taken power in 1979 at a ceremony the FBI photographed. He ruled unchallenged until his death, said Eric Straus, Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Michigan in the United States Department of Justice. Straus spent two decades investigating Tocco.

Retired FBI agent Greg Stejskal, in an interview with Deadline Detroit Tuesday night, recalled that June 11, 1979, was the very day that it was officially announced to made-members of the Detroit Mafia that Tocco was taking over as boss, replacing Tony Zerilli, who had lost his juice in the organization.

Stejskal said he was part of an FBI surveillance team that followed some mobsters, including Tocco and Vito Giacalone, to a barber shop on Gratiot in northern Macomb County.

FBI surveillance photo at in 1979 at game farm with Tocco in the middle.

The men exited the shop and  got into a van. Stejskal and his fellow agents followed the van to a game farm north of Chelsea.

The agents saw it was a big gathering, and Stejskal recalls thinking:

 “Whatever it is, it’s a big deal. The only people there were all made guys.”

He said he and another agent quietly went behind an archery target on the property that was owned at the time by reputed mobsters Antonio and Luigi Ruggirello.

“I had my camera with a 300 mm lense and I started taking pictures,” Stejskal said.

Eventually, from intelligence, the agents learned that the gathering officially marked the start of Tocco’s long reign as Detroit’s reputed Godfather. 

Also read story:

A Detroit Mob Photo by the FBI Surveillance Squad Captures History

 

FBI to Interview 12-Year-Old Missing Boy Who Turned Up in Basement of Detroit Home

Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The FBI plans to interview a 12-year-old boy who went missing before turning up in the basement of his home in a strange case that has gotten international attention, the Free Press reports.

The forensic interview of Charlie Bothuell is scheduled for today.

“Based on the outcome of this interview, the Detroit Police Department may be submitting a package to the Wayne County Prosecutor’s office as early as Wednesday afternoon,” according to a statement from Detroit police. “For the time being, Charlie is currently staying with relatives in an undisclosed location.”

After Bothuell was found in the basement of his home Wednesday, suspicions fell on the father and stepmother, who allegedly told the boy to hide in the basement and “not to come out, no matter what he hears.”

The son also told authorities that his father tried to drive a PVC pipe into his chest.

FBI Director James Comey Says He Keeps in Touch With Robert Mueller

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

DETROIT — Just in case you were wondering, the answer is Yes.

FBI Director James B. Comey, who was in Detroit Tuesday to visit with the local agents and law enforcement folks, told reporters that he keeps in touch with the man he replaced, Robert S. Mueller III.

“He’s been a friend of mine a long time, so I talked to him a lot before coming and I’ve talked to him a number of times since then,” Comey said.

“I guess I don’t want to get into particulars or count the times, but he remains a friend of mine. ”

And then he added with a smile:

“And everything that goes wrong I’m blaming on him.”

Comey fielded questions from reporters about Detroit after meeting with law enforcement folks all day.

Detroiters are often convinced that the crime problem — particularly carjackings — is a little more unique here than in other places around the country.

But Comey responded responded to a reporter’s question about that by saying:

“I don’t want to hurt your feelings, but I don’t think Detroit has any unique criminal problems. These are problems that we see in a lot of cities around the country.”

Comey said the FBI plans to add 300 new agents this year.

Will Detroit be a beneficiary?

“We haven’t yet decided where the 300 new agents are going to go,” Comey said. “That will obviously be based on need and where there are risks that are unaddressed. And so Detroit will obviously be part of that conversation, but it’s too early for me to say.”

Comey said the FBI was helping battle the violent crime in Detroit by participating in local task forces, and he acknowledged that  cities like Detroit, Chicago and Cleveland are up against some very tough crime issues.

Still, he emphasized that counterterrorism and counterintelligence remained the FBI’s top priority here and around the country.

He said he’s concerned about the thousands of foreigners training in Syria and where they might wind up after they leave. He also had concerns about home grown violent extremists and lost souls influenced by the propaganda on the Internet.

“So it’s why it’s so important for us to remember the importance of our counterterrorism mission everywhere in the United States.”

Comey also waxed philosophical about solving the violent crime problem.

“You can’t arrest your way to a healthy neighborhood,” he said. “You’ve got to arrest in order to create space for something to grow in its place.

“You will weed for ever if you don’t find a way to seed something in the space you’ve created with your weeding and grow a healthy plan. That is a huge and difficult problem well beyond those of us of in law enforcement but that is the answer to violent crime.”

He was also asked about his level of concern for security at the nation’s northern border.

“The southern border I worry about, the northern border I don’t,” he said.

 

TSA Seizes Bejeweled Lipstick Stun Gun from Detroit Airport

Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

TSA officers discovered a pink lipstick stun gun in a woman’s baggage at Detroit Metropolitan Airpot on Sunday after spotting something suspicious at the x-ray machine, WXYZ reports.

Turned out, the woman was carrying a 5-inch stun gun disguised as a bejeweled lip stick container.

The woman was cited but permitted to take her flight to Fort Lauderdale.

The stun gun was confiscated.

 

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FBI Investigates Death Threat Made Against Detroit Police Chief James Craig

Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

DETROIT — It’s not easy making friends in one of America’s most dangerous cities.

Since becoming chief of the Detroit Police Department in July, James Craig has become a thorn in the side of criminal enterprises after making five highly publicized drug sweeps and averaging 35 weekly raids.

The Detroit Free Press reports that Craig received a death threat via social media Friday.

“We need to clap him out,” Craig said the man wrote, which is slang for shooting someone to death.

Craig spoke defiantly about the threat Sunday, saying he would not be deterred.

“We will find you,” Craig said, “and we’re going to dismantle your criminal enterprise.”

Michigan Rap Group, Insane Clown Posse, Sues FBI over Designating Fans as Criminal Gang Members

Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com 

Saying the FBI has unfairly targeted fans of a Michigan rap group as criminal gang members, attorneys for Insane Clown Posse filed suit against the bureau Wednesday, the New York Times reports.

The lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in Detroit claims the gang designation was unwarranted and has lead to harassment by law enforcement.

Four of the fans, known as Juggalos, also filed suit, saying they were unfairly targeted because of the music they like.

One of them, Brandon Bradley, of California, said he was pulled over by police several times because of his Juggalo tattoos and clothing.

“I’m a peaceful person and I try to live my life right,” he said.

The FBI declined to comment on the lawsuit, but in the past said Juggalos have a history of violence.

FBI Searches for Human Remains at Industrial Area Owned by Anatomy Expert

Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

DETROIT — The FBI is searching for bone fragments and other human remains at an industrial area on Detroit’s east side, WXYZ reports.

Crews in HAZMAT suits searched the area Thursday and plan to resume today.

WXYZ conjectured that it’s possible that human body parts were being sold but provided no evidence or attribution.

The industrial site, International Biological, is owned by Arthur Rathburn, a suburban man who worked in the anatomy department for the University of Michigan from 1984 to 1990.

Agents also searched his home.