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.
READ MORE ON THE PASSING OF JACK TOCCO
AND THE DETROIT MAFIA
» CBS Detroit
» Detroit Free Press
» A Detroit Free Press Photo Gallery
» Jack Tocco on Wikipedia
» The Hoffa Wars
» Motor City Mafia