Detroit Mob Boss Jack Tocco Dies

Tocco, Detroit mob boss, had a bachelor's degree 

Jack Tocco  pleaded for mercy -- perhaps for the first time in his life.

“My wife’s life and my life have been destroyed,” he said . “I would like the privilege of dying at home with my family.”

Tocco wasn't facing one of the hit men like the type he himself had probably ordered over his decades-long run as a mob boss. He was facing a judge in federal court in December 2003.

It was sentencing time for being convicted for running Detroit’s Mafia for 30 years.

In the end, he got his wish. He ultimately served nearly two years in prison -- courtesy of U.S. District Judge John Corbett O'Meara.

Tocco, 87, died this past Monday, presumably of natural causes. According to the Detroit Free Press, the death was published on the website of Bagnasco & Calcaterra Funeral Home in Sterling Heights.

"Officials there wouldn’t comment beyond listing the service arrangements."

According to the FBI, Tocco was running the Detroit Mafia in July 1975 when Teamsters President Jimmy Hoffa disappeared from the Machus Red Fox restaurant on Telegraph Road in Bloomfield Township.

“He knew all the secrets and where the bodies were buried, including Hoffa’s,” said Dan Moldea, author of “The Hoffa Wars.” “Jack Tocco had to check off on this murder. It happened in his jurisdiction.”

Whatever he knew about Hoffa and his world-famous disappearance, Tocco never related.

We reported last year about Tocco and others in our story: Cosa Nostra News: Detroit Mob Family Alive and Well Under the Radar:

Those who remember stories about the infamous Purple Gang from the city’s bloody Prohibition era or the everlasting hubbub regarding the mysterious disappearance of labor boss Jimmy Hoffa may wonder if organized crime still exists in the Motor City.
William "Black Bill" Tocco was Jack's father.

Indeed, many would probably be surprised to find out that Detroit’s Mafia is still alive, well and racketeering. Few would suggest that the local crime family has the manpower or criminal reach it once had, but it nevertheless continues to function – and when compared to other mob syndicates across the country, at a fairly high level.

The key reason is that it had guys like Jack Tocco running it.

“He didn't talk on the telephone, he did most of his business face to face,” said former federal prosecutor Keith Corbett, who won a conviction of Tocco in 1998 on racketeering and conspiracy charges. “There were very few instances where we were able to get him on a wiretap or a bug.”

Tocco had plenty of street smarts, ever ditching FBI agents trying to tail him by parking his car at a mall. They sat on the car. Tocco walked through the mall to another car and drove away from them.

Tocco’s father, William "Black Bill" Tocco, and his uncle, Joseph Zerilli, are credited with creating the Detroit Mafia in the 1930s.

Jack Tocco kept a low profile and actually had a college degree -- I can't think of another mob boss with one. Specifically, he earned a business degree at the University of Detroit and ran Melrose Linen Supply and other businesses.

He and his wife, Toni, had children and lived a pleasant life in Grosse Pointe Park. Whatever else Tocco was, he was a father to his children. (Apparently at least one son followed his father into the family business.)

Before being indicted on racketeering charges in 1996, Tocco’s only criminal conviction was in 1965.

What heinous crime was he found guilty of?

 Attending a cockfight!

“He spent his whole life denying that there was a Mafia, denying that he was a member and threatening anyone who said he was,” Corbett said.

In 1998, a federal jury convicted him of racketeering and conspiracy. Prosecutors provided enough proof for the jury to show he had engaged in a 30-year enterprise of extortion and other crimes while running the city's Mafia family.

As recently as 2006, FBI agents in Detroit arrested more than a dozen individuals under the Racketeering Influenced and Corrupt Organization Act (RICO) charging them with bookmaking, money laundering and extortion. Though federal authorities did not officially link the case to the mob, sources in local law enforcement confirm that the indictment’s alleged ringleaders, Peter Tocco of Troy and Jack V. Giacalone of West Bloomfield, as well as several of their co-defendants are affiliated with the area’s mafia family.

Tocco, 62 and referred to on federal surveillance tapes by such monikers as “Blackie” and “Specs,” pled guilty to the charges and served a two-year prison sentence before being released. Giacalone, 60, went to trial and was acquitted.

Sources peg Giacalone, known by nicknames like, “Jackie the Kid” and “Jackie the Bathrobe,” as someone being groomed to be a future don.


  1. Yahn, I highly doubt some real life mobster would open up his feelings to a foreign journalist? He may be at the same places but access, I don't think so.

  2. I agree Ronen. It was difficult keeping that sentiment out of the story. Classic fish out of water scenario. You have to have a grounding in American OC to even have an idea of where some of these guys are coming from!

  3. Clinton CeeRay FussellJul 19, 2014, 11:12:00 AM

    I'm sorry but I get tired of these TV people constantly hammering away at the mythology of the Mafia vs the reality. Just state what happened and leave it at that. In my opinion the Mafia are angels compared to government and big business. And since they love to constantly champion the downfall of the Mob then how come they never discuss the real Mafia in Italy? I suppose it's because that whenever it comes to the real thing big bad law enforcement isn't so big and bad after all. So they like to talk about the downfall of the American Mafia when in fact I believe it has a lot more to do with many other factors (such as naturally dying off, becoming too American, etc) than just the big bad government putting them out of business. Just my two cents.


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