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May 2019


How to Become a Bounty Hunter

Archive for May 22nd, 2019

The Secret FBI Files of Detroit’s Sopranos and the Links to Jimmy Hoffa

Anthony Giacalone (left) and Vito Giacalone (Photo from Scott Burnstein)

By Allan Lengel

DETROIT — Brothers Vito and Anthony Giacalone, reputed Detroit mobsters, had close ties to Teamster President Jimmy Hoffa in the 1960s — but that didn’t keep them from plotting to rob a safe in his Washington D.C. apartment, according to FBI files obtained by through the Freedom of Information Act.

The files, which cover the early 1960s for the Giacalone brothers, also show the FBI was concerned about the mob stepping up its gambling activities in Detroit and wondered if then-Mayor Jerome Cavanagh might be on the take.

Over many decades, when the Detroit mob was a force to be reckoned with, capos (captains) Vito (Billy Jack) Giacalone and brother Anthony Giacalone were often the public face of the local mob.

How they lived and did their criminal business figures prominently in the history of Detroit’s organized crime family, which has been diminished significantly by virtue of time and law enforcement’s action. Legit gaming at casinos replaced some of the traditional mob activities like backroom dice games and cards. And the Teamsters, now headed by James R. Hoffa’s son, have cleaned up their act and cut ties to the Mafia, which used the pension fund as its bank for decades.

But when the Giacalones and their colleagues operated at full strength in the mid-20th century, few gangsters were their equal.

Keith Corbett: “No one looks at them anymore.”

“The Giacalones were certainly the most public figures in the local La Cosa Nostra,” says Keith Corbett, who headed up the Organized Crime Strike Force in the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Detroit from 1990 to about 2005.

“In fact, it’s my impression that that was a bone of contention between people like Jack Tocco (a mob leader) who wanted them to maintain a low profile. That wasn’t their style.”

Assistant U.S. Attorney Eric M. Straus, chief of the Violent and Organized Crime Unit, adds:  “Not only was there tension with Jack Tocco not wanting them to have a high profile, but the Giacalones were resentful that they did all the heavy lifting that exposed them periodically to lengthy prison sentences while others didn’t spend any time in jail.”

Vito Giacalone died in 2012 at age 88. Anthony Giacalone died in 2001 at age 82.

Today, the Detroit mob is a shadow of itself, involved in illegal sports gambling, loan sharking, narcotics, and some legitimate businesses, like sanitation, food supplies and restaurants. The members include offspring and relatives of the original gangsters. Authorities believe Vito Giacalone’s son, Jack “The Kid” Giacalone, 68, a twice-convicted felon, is allegedly one of the highest ranking figures in the Detroit mob.

The guy had a look

I took an interest in Vito Giacalone when I was a Detroit News reporter covering federal law enforcement and courts in the 1990s. I wrote a profile on him in 1994, just before Giacalone was to go off to prison. When I asked his attorney David DuMouchel if his client cared to comment for the story, he called him on the golf course. DuMouchel got back to me to and said Giacalone wouldn’t comment and wasn’t happy I was doing a story.

Jerome Cavanagh was mayor from 1962-70/

I had two encounters with Giacalone. One was after he pleaded guilty in 1994 to the tax charge. As he left court, I asked for comment. He gave one of his trademark icy stares and walked to the elevator.

A few years before that, I was at the Golden Galleon bar behind The Detroit News on a Friday in December, after work, getting a beer with a colleague. I ran into an attorney who invited us into the back room to join the firm’s Christmas party. Giacalone was there, and when he learned we were reporters, he told the lawyer we should leave.

Some of the FBI files are heavily redacted and leave gaping holes in the story line. Still, what is there provides historical insight into the role the mob played in its heyday in Detroit in the 1960s.

The city’s organized-crime characters and activities were something out of a Scorsese film, running gambling, numbers and loan sharking. The brothers relied on Hoffa for favors ranging from using his private pilot to working on obtaining loans from the Teamster pension fund to invest in a Las Vegas hotel. It was also a time when the FBI and Attorney General Robert Kennedy had taken a keen interest in the mob and Hoffa, who was imprisoned in 1967 until mid-1971 for jury tampering and fraud.

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Roger Stone Mulls Lawsuit to Determine If He Was Under FBI Surveillance

Roger Stone on ABC’s “This Week.”

By Steve Neavling

Conservative provocateur Roger Stone is threatening to file a federal lawsuit to determine whether he was under FBI surveillance during the Trump campaign.

“We have strong reason to believe that Mr. Stone was among three advisors to candidate Trump who was under surveillance by the FBI during the 2016 presidential campaign,” Stone’s attorney Paul Jensen wrote in a May 20 letter to the federal government, The Hill reports.

Jensen’s assertion is based on a January 2017 story by The New York Times, which revealed that the FBI had been monitoring Donald Trump associates and the Russian government during the presidential election.

“Having exhausted our administrative remedies we are now contemplating a tort lawsuit as a means to force the government to disclose the facts in this serious matter and to determine if Mr. Stone’s 4th amendment rights were violated,” Jensen’s letter continued.

Stone, who was unable to substantiate his claims, has been charged with seven counts, including making false statements to Congress, obstruction a government investigation and tampering with a witness. He is awaiting trial.

Trump’s Crackdown on the Border Could Make Airports Less Safe

By Steve Neavling

The Transportation Security Administration, which protects America’s airports by screening passengers, could lose substantial funding to finance President Trump’s crackdown at the southern border.

The Department of Homeland Security is asking for $232 million from the TSA to fund increased security measures at the border, a controversial move that underscores the dramatic shifts in priorities after the 9/11 attacks.

Homeland Security is requesting the money in case Congress doesn’t support a $1.1 billion funding request, according to documents obtained by NBC News.

A DHS spokesman said the agency is “considering all options” to combat the influx of migrants at the southwest border.

“We will continue to work with our workforce to find dynamic solutions and funding to address this very serious problem. As part of this effort, it is our responsibility to explore fiscal mechanisms that will ensure the safety and welfare of both our workforce and the migrant population, which is also reflected in the supplemental request submitted to Congress,” said DHS spokesman Tyler Houlton.