Giacomo “Black Jack” Tocco, believed by law enforcement to have run the Detroit mafia for more than three decades, died Monday at age 87.
Tocco was a key figure in the investigation into the disappearance of Teamster boss Jimmy Hoffa in 1975.
His death was reported by Bagnasco & Calcaterra Funeral Home in Sterling Heights.
Tocco was born and grew up in Grosse Pointe. His father was William “Black Bill” Tocco, believed to have been one of the founding members of the Detroit mafia.
“He’s sort of a link to the days of the ’20s and ’30s,” said former federal prosecutor Keith Corbett, who investigated Tocco. “Between him and his father they go back to the start of organized crime in Detroit. He is the last of an era.”
In 1998, Jack Tocco was convicted of racketeering and conspiracy to commit extortion, and served 34 months in prison before being released in 2002. He and four other men were charged with being part of a 30-year conspiracy that controlled illegal gambling and other illicit activities in Metro Detroit as well as illegal connections to Nevada casinos. He served 2 1/2 years.
Corbett is still dismayed at the sentence.
“Why the judge came down with such a lenient sentence, you’d have to ask him,” he said.
Last summer, the FBI searched property formerly owned by Tocco for the remains of Hoffa.
The FBI received the tip from ex-mob underboss Anthony “Tony Z” Zerilli. The government labeled Zerilli the Detroit mafia’s second in command who briefly ran “the outfit” — as the mob is sometimes known. He is the son of Joseph Zerilli, another reputed leader of the mafia in the area for most of the time from 1966 until his death in 1977.
Zerilli was in prison when the labor union leader disappeared but says he was informed of what happened. No remains were found at Tocco’s former property.
Zerilli and Tocco were cousins who grew up together and ran Hazel Park Raceway. But they had a falling out after Tocco served his two-year sentence for mob activities while Zerilli served five years.
Corbett said Tocco, who also ran the Melrose Linen Service, was “a very astute businessman” and “a very clever guy.”
“He was the person everyone in the family had to report to. He had to approve of any activity family members or associates might engage in,” said Corbett.
At the same time, he said, Tocco went to great lengths to conceal his involvement in the mafia. He would sue people who called him a mobster. Corbett said Tocco donated money to local charities and churches so he “looked like a solid citizen.”
Tocco is survived by his wife, Toni; sons Vito, Angelo, Jack, Nino; daughters Rosalie Bradley, Vinnie Klooster and Toni Dallier, and 17 grandchildren and two great-grandchildren. He was preceded in death by daughter Maria Miller.
Visitation will be held at the Sterling Heights chapel of Bagnasco & Calcaterra Funeral Home, 13650 E. 15 Mile, from 2-9 p.m. Thursday, July 17. The funeral will be held at 10 a.m. Friday, July 18, at St. Clare of Montefalco Catholic Church, 1401 Whittier.
In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to St. Louis Center, 16195 W. Old U.S. Highway 12, Chelsea, MI 48118.