Jack Tocco, Detroit's Boss and Last of the 'Old-School Godfathers,' Dies

The longest serving Mafia boss in the United States passed away at his Grosse Pointe Park home on Monday. Funeral Mass will be Friday.

Jack Tocco in his 1996 handout photo taken by the FBI.
Jack Tocco in his 1996 handout photo taken by the FBI.

Giacomo "Black Jack" Tocco — reputedly the longest-serving Mafia boss in American history — has died at the age of 87.

He died at home on Monday afternoon.

Tocco and his wife Toni raised a large family in Grosse Pointe Park, spending the better part of their life together there. He attended the University of Detroit, where he earned a business degree, and he owned Melrose Linen Supply, Hazel Park Raceway and other enterprises, including extensive real estate holdings.

All the while, he presided over organized crime in the Detroit area, taking up the reins almost 40 years ago and following in the footsteps of his father, William "Black Bill" Tocco, who created the Detroit Mafia in the 1930s.

Don Moldea, author of The Hoffa Wars, told the Detroit Free Press that Tocco "knew all the secrets and where the bodies were buried" — and that would include Teamsters President Jimmy Hoffa.

In July 1975, Hoffa was last seen at the Machus Red Fox restaurant in Bloomfield Township.

"Jack Tocco had to check off on this murder," Moldea said.

In June 2013, the FBI even dug up property Tocco owned in Oakland Township, near Adams and Buell roads, in search of Hoffa's body, which has never been found. Tocco's cousin, Anthony "Tony Z" Zerilli, turned on him and said Tocco planned Hoffa's demise. He also told the feds that Hoffa was murdered on Tocco's property, beaten to death with a shovel and buried there.

The old boss's death marks the end of an era.

"Things will never be the same," Scott Burnstein, author of Motor City Mafia: A Century of Organized Crime in Detroit, told CBS Detroit. "Jack Tocco was one of the final links to that Golden Era of the '60s, '70s, end of the '80s, he’s one of the last old-school godfathers … No American mafia don had served as long as he did.”

Indicted in 1996, Tocco was convicted in 1998 on racketeering and extortion charges. He was acquitted of 10 extortion charges. He served 11 months in prison.

"He spent his whole life denying that there was a Mafia, denying that he was a member and threatening anyone who said he was," former federal prosecutor Keith Corbett told the Free Press.

Aside from that, Tocco kept a low profile. Burnstein said he was unusual among Mafia kingpins in that he liked "pulling strings behind the scenes."

He contributed great sums of cash to the church and local charities, too, according to Burnstein.

Tocco was born in 1927 to William Tocco and Rosalie Zerilli. He grew up in the Windmill Pointe section of Grosse Pointe Park. He was married to his wife Toni for more than 60 years. He is survived by his wife Toni; children, Vito (Kim), Dr. Angelo (Cheryl), Dr. Rosalie (Dr. Brian) Bradley, Jack (Teresa), Nino (Michele), Vinnie (Conrad) Klooster, Toni (Ralph) Dallier and the late Maria (Jon) Miller. He's also survived by 17 grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.

Visitation is at Bagnasco and Calcaterra Funeral Home, 13650 E. Fifteen Mile Road, Sterling Heights, from 2 to 9 p.m. Thursday. Funeral Mass will be Friday, 10 a.m., at St. Clare of Montefalco Catholic Church 1401 Whittier Road, Grosse Pointe Park.


» Scott Burnstein at TheOaklandPress.com
» CBS Detroit
» Detroit Free Press
» A Detroit Free Press Photo Gallery
» Jack Tocco on Wikipedia
» The Hoffa Wars
» Motor City Mafia

Mac July 16, 2014 at 09:49 PM
some role model - he was sooooooo greedy he cut off his own head - Detroit was a blue chip city before he bled it dry - he died as the commander in chief of a self-created slum - some legacy - of course, with his death, Chris Christie has lost another role model
Bill Payer July 17, 2014 at 08:41 AM
Don't you just love those jogging outfits.
Dame Bridgid July 17, 2014 at 01:29 PM
I just hope he likes it hot.
Nadja Adolf July 17, 2014 at 02:32 PM
What is wrong with the author of this piece? What "golden age" of homicidal thugs is he hallucinating? Gee, he misses the Golden Age of murders, forced prostitution, loan sharking, extortion, beatings and mutilations. I'd have loved to see this clown's memorializing of Joe Stalin and Idi Amin.
de anne July 21, 2014 at 02:13 AM
As long as there is human life on earth..there will be those who benefit from others...organized crime is a fact of life..it hides behind black robes...badges..elected officials and government...What the author meant, by Golden Years, I believe, was a time when it was actually a part of this country's start..immigrants who were oppressed became the oppressors...part of every history of every country. Now we have unorganized thugs...killing innocents in the street...shooting the wrong people and those who can't aim to save themselves. ..I'm not glorifying the Mafia...but what we have today with the Russian, Mexican and plain street thugs is so much worse...we are all targets...it wasn't that way during those " old" days of organized crime. You can just be walking down a street and your a target for an initiation or you're mistaken for someone or a 2 yr.old is in the way. I'll take the mafia any day over this stupidity.


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