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Tag: Mob

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

 

Weekend Series on Crime History: The Story of Mobster Meyer Lansky

Exclusive: Gang Land News Reveals the Snitch in the Lufthansa Airlines Caper

Gang Land News Photo

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

If you wondered who the snitch was who helped the feds charge a top mobster in the legendary 1978 Lufthansa Airlines robbery, wonder no more.

Mob expert Jerry Capeci of Gang Land News, in an exclusive, reports that the snitch is a “low level hood who for years was in the right place at the right time.”

He writes that the snitch is 67-year-old Gaspare (Gary) Valenti, a cousin of Vincent Asaro, the powerful Bonanno family wiseguy indicted in the heist that netted $6 million.

Capeci writes:

Valenti is an unlikely songbird of the mob’s best-kept secrets. He has a short rap sheet and a shorter mob pedigree, records show. But for many years he was in an excellent position to see what his Cousin Vinny was up to. And the mob tales he spilled to the feds provided the key evidence leading to the arrest of the 78-year-old Asaro for the Lufthansa heist, as well as for a 45 year old murder.

Gang Land News is a paid subscription site, but it’s worth it.

Chicago Tribune Editorial: Should ATF Headquarters Be Named for Eliot Ness

Al Capone/fbi photo

By the Chicago Tribune
Editorial Page

Chicago

We all know crime fighter Eliot Ness brought down Chicago mobster Al Capone, right?

Not quite. Ness spent the best years of his life in a hunt to put Capone behind bars, but he had less to do with the final outcome than legend has it. Ness retired from federal law enforcement in his prime, then worked as a public safety official in Ohio. His personal life became a mess and he died at age 54.

Republican Sen. Mark Kirk and Democratic Sen. Dick Durbin are pushing to name the Washington headquarters of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives after Ness. This has prompted a delicious debate about Chicago history during Prohibition.

Alderman Ed Burke, the City Council’s resident historian, has dismissed the famous lawman. “Eliot Ness had a checkered career after leaving the federal government,” Burke said. “I simply do not think his image matches the actual reality of his legacy.”

Read more here

 OTHER STORIES OF INTEREST


How the Feds Gave “Macy’s Bargain-Basement-Style” Guilty Pleas in Mob Case Because of A Very Shady Witness Who Was Convicted of Sexually Soliciting a Teen

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Did fed prosecutors in a mob waste hauling case in Manhattan give two  hold-out defendants a sweet plea deal to avoid putting on the witness stand a key FBI undercover operative who was convicted of soliciting sex from a teen girl?

That likely appears to be the case, according a story by mob expert Jerry Capeci of Gang Land News.

Capeci writes:

The gangsters got offers they couldn’t refuse: low-end guidelines of 15 months for one, a year for the other. The deals were cut last week, right after a Manhattan federal judge indicated he would give the defense some leeway in questioning witness Charles Hughes about his 2008 arrest for soliciting sex from a girl he believed to be 15-years-old.

The guilty pleas close out the first of three trials that were scheduled in the 29-defendant case alleging mob control over the private sanitation industry in five counties in New York and New Jersey. So far, 19 defendants from three crime families, including geezer gangster Carmine “Papa Smurf”

 

Capeci reports that U.S. District Judge P. Kevin Castel said he’d allow  the defense to bring up some of the sexual allegations if the government witness took the stand.

Capeci describes the government deal as a “Macy’s bargain-basement-style sale of guilty pleas: Prosecutors suddenly reduced prison-term plea deals offered two Gambino family defendants by two-thirds.”

Gang Land News is a  paid subscription site, but worth it.

FBI Agent Feared Trenton City Hall Was on Verge of Becoming Controlled by Criminal Element

 

Mayor Tony Mack

Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com 

Something had to be done in Trenton.

That much was clear less than three months into Mayor Tony Mack’s administration when a government informant told the FBI that he feared the mob had taken over city hall, the Trenton Times reports.

FBI Supervisor Special Agent Mike Doyle was listening into a conversation between the informant and city hall insider Joseph “JoJo” Giorgianni. 

The surveillance prompted deep concerns that the Mack administration could potentially extort millions from city taxpayers, the Trenton Times wrote.

“Based on the allegations that Mr. Giorgianni made during those … initial meetings, I was fearful that an organized criminal element had taken over City Hall,” Doyle said. “And if so, I believe the cost to the taxpayers would be in the multi-million dollars as part of a criminal arrangement that had been inherent in the city.”

“That is the reason we had such a robust investigation,” said Doyle, who is a 17-year veteran of the FBI and was the lead agent on the case.

Weekend Series on Crime History: The Las Vegas Mob

Interview with FBI Agent Reveals New Details about ‘Whitey’ Bulger, Including His Cheap Socks

Whitey Bulger/fbi

Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The FBI agent credited with capturing notorious gangster James ‘Whitey’ Bulger provides new details about the June 2011 arrest, CBS reports.

CBS released a short clip previewing the interview with Scott Garriola that will be aired on 60 Minutes on Sunday.

When FBI agents raided Bulger’s apartment, they found a collection of 64-ounce bottles topped by stretched white sox.

“I said, ‘Hey Whitey, what are these? Are these some kind of Molotov cocktail you’re making?’ He goes, ‘No,’ he said, ‘I buy– tube socks from the 99 Cents Store and– they’re too tight on my calves and that’s the way I stretch ‘em out.’ I said, ‘Why you shopping at the 99 Cents Store? You have half a million dollars under your bed.’ He goes, ‘I had to make the money last.’”