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Tag: Tony Zerilli

Ex-Detroit Mob Boss Tony Zerilli, Who Triggered FBI Dig for Hoffa, Is Dead at 87

Tony Zerilli/ from WDIV video

By Allan Lengel
Deadline Detroit
DETROIT — The former acting boss of the Detroit mob, Anthony (Tony Z) Zerilli, who triggered a massive FBI dig in northern Oakland County in 2013 in search of James R. Hoffa, died several days ago of natural causes in the Ft. Lauderdale area. He was 87.

Scott Burnstein, a local mob expert, who runs the website, Gangster Report, wrote that Zerilli was the last of the upper-echelon old guard in the Detroit mafia. He was an underboss and acting boss and son of the local Godfather Joseph (Joe Uno) Zerilli. He was also the son-in-law of the New York don Joe Profaci.

Less than a decade ago, he was stripped of his duties as the syndicate’s No. 2 in charge, Gangster Report reported.

After being out of the spotlight for quite a long time, Zerilli surfaced as a very public figure in January 2013 when he told NBC 4 New York reporter Marc Santia, formerly of WDIV  that Hoffa was buried in northern Oakland County, but he had nothing to do with the 1975 disappearance. At the time of the Hoffa disappearance, that property belonged to another top-ranking mobster.

The statements put the FBI in a bind. Embarrassed before in its never-ending hunt for Hoffa, the agency would have preferred to avoid another failed dig, and the accompanying skepticisim and wisecracks from the public. On the other hand, it was hard for the agency to ignore Zerilli’s claims considered he was a guy who was once high up the chain, who could have had some knowledge.

So, in June 2013, the FBI started digging up a property in Oakland Township, but came up empty after more than two days and called it quits. Few were surprised.

Several months before the dig,  Zerilli told the New York reporter that the mob intended to move Hoffa’s body to a hunting lodge in Rogers City at the northern tip of the Lower Peninsula, but never did. He gives no names, saying he’s not a snitch.

At the time, the NBC 4 correspondent Santia says Zerilli, who was hurting for money, came forward in hopes of profiting from publicity and showing he had nothing to do with Hoffa’s abrupt disappearance outside a Bloomfield Township restaurant on July 30, 1975. He has a website to promote a book in the making.

“Finally, a book will soon be published with all of the facts surrounding the Hoffa disappearance,” his website said, adding: “Many have long speculated that Anthony J. Zerilli was the ‘boss’ of the Detroit Mafia, and that he ordered the killing of Jimmy Hoffa. This is absolutely untrue.”

 

As FBI Digs For Hoffa, Ex-Mobster Zerilli Tries To Sell Autographed Photos

Update: Tuesday, 4 p.m. — Mike Martindale and Candice Williams of the Detroit News report that investigators are shifting focus of the search on a different spot on the site in Oakland Township at Adams and Buell roads after a cadaver dog hit on the location. The News reports the spot isn’t part of a concrete slab authorities unearthed at the site. Ex-mobster Tony Zerilli claims Hoffa was buried under a concrete slab. The News also reported  Oakland County Sheriff Mike Bouchard confirmed the dog’s interest in a new spot, but wasn’t convinced he had a conclusive hit.
Tuesday, 7 p.m. —  The FBI has quit for the day. WDIV’s Kevin Dietz reports that the feds thought they’d find something on the first day. Today was the second day. Skepticism is rising.  The cadaver dog ended up focusing on something that appeared not to be human remains.
 
By Allan Lengel
Deadline Detroit

DETROIT — As FBI agents continue searching today for Jimmy Hoffa’s body in Oakland Township, north of Detroit, you can’t help but wonder how ex-mobster Anthony (Tony Z) Zerilli is profiting.

You see, Zerilli, who briefly headed the Detroit mob before being knocked down to a capo (captain) , told the FBI Hoffa is buried in Oakland Township on a property once owned mob boss Jack Tocco. That prompted the FBI to go digging.

Zerilli, who was in prison at the time of Hoffa’s disappearance in 1975, has made no secret of the fact that he wants to profit from a book on Hoffa. He’s got a website where he’s selling a 21-page manuscript on the Hoffa disappearance for $4.99 online and $7.99 if you want it mailed. There’s talk of him eventually writing a book. In his manuscript, he writes that Hoffa was bound and gagged, hit with a shovel and buried alive in a barn on the property.

At 85, he’s not exactly a rock star. But that hasn’t stopped him from trying to sell signed photos.

He writes on his website:

Due to the overwhelming request for his personally autographed photos, Mr. Zerilli is offering the following 8.5″ x 11″ professional color photos for purchase, with the option for a personally signed photo.

He’s selling the photo, which will be mailed, for $9.99. If you want an autograph, that costs $22.99. If you care for a personal message, well that’s another $12. That’s an offer you can’t refuse.

To read more click here.

A Familiar Circus Breaks Out As FBI Digs for Jimmy Hoffa

TV trucks and neighbors gathered outside the site.

Update: Tuesday, 8:10  a.m. — The FBI resumes digging today. 
Update: Monday, 6 p.m. — Detroit FBI spokesman Simon Shaykhet said agents would continue digging until sundown and will return Tuesday at 8 a.m.  to resume activities. He declined to provide specifics beyond that.*************
By Allan Lengel
Deadline Detroit

Oakland Township, Mich –– On Monday morning, almost as quickly as a snap of the finger, a circus broke out at a corner of rural Oakland Township, north of Detroit.

There were no elephants and dancing bears. But there were FBI agents, sheriff’s deputies, farm equipment and lots of TV cameras and reporters, curious neighbors and gawking motorists, some who stopped to snap a photo.

The FBI was digging for James R. Hoffa.

It wasn’t a huge surprise, in some ways.

Ex-Detroit mobster Tony Zerilli had come forward and spoken to the media several months ago, saying Hoffa is buried on property at a property near the corner of Buell and Adams Road. The site once belonged to Detroit’s top mobster Jack Tocco. The FBI was interested.

Zerilli, in a transcript of a partial book offered for sale on his website HoffaFound.com, said mobsters drove Hoffa to the property on July 30, 1975, bound and gagged him, then took a shovel and “cracked Hoffa over the head with it.” A gravesite already had been dug in a barn.

“They threw him in the hole, buried him alive,” Zerilli wrote. “He wasn’t shot, he wasn’t stabbed, nothing like that. A cement slab of some sort was placed on top of the dirt to make certain he was going to be discovered. And that was it. End of story.”

Anthony Zerilli’s partial manuscript — just 21 pages — is being peddled online for $5 as a download or $8 mailed.

Zerilli was at the excavation site for a while Monday morning, but took off. His attorney, David Chasnick, said he may have been a little intimidated by the crowd.

Chasnick gave journalists copies of Zerilli’s 21-page manuscript of his developing book on the disappearance. Zerilli, 85, is broke and has said he wants to make money on all of this.

To read the full story click here. 

Here We Go Again: Feds Begin Search for Jimmy Hoffa on Property in Suburban Detroit

 

James R. Hoffa

By Allan Lengel
Deadline Detroit

DETROIT –– Here we go again.

The feds were searching a property Monday in Oakland County, outside of Detroit,  for the missing body of ex-Teamster leader James R. Hoffa, Robert Snell of The Detroit News reports.

The property is located near Buell and Adams roads in Oakland Township, Snell reports. The search appears to be the result of ex-Detroit mob boss Tony Zerilli coming forward on WDIV-TV (Channel 4) to say that Hoffa’s body was buried there. Hoffa disappeared in 1975. The property once belonged to mobster boss Jack Tocco.

Simon Shaykhet  of the  FBI declined comment Monday morning when contacted by Deadline Detroit.  

The search is the latest over decades.

The past searches have included farm land and a house in Detroit and a driveway in Roseville. All proved to be a bit of an embarrassment to the FBi, which came up empty handed.

To read more click here.

 

 

Who Is Mobster Tony Zerilli And What Does He Really Know About Hoffa?

A reporter helps mobster Tony Zerilli out of the car.

By Allan Lengel
Deadline Detroit

DETROIT –– He was son of Joseph Zerilli, Detroit’s top mobster.

Anthony Joseph Zerilli, who went by the nickname “Tony Z,” followed his dad’s career path, rising to top spot in the local Mafia before heading to prison in 1974 for his hidden interest in two Las Vegas casinos. When he resurfaced on the outside five years later, he had been dethroned and demoted to a “capo” (captain) role.

Now frail, moving about with a walker, and residing in a senior community on Van Dyke in Sterling Heights, the 85-year-old is suddenly in the spotlight, having told a New York TV reporter that he knows what happened to Teamster President James Riddle Hoffa and where he’s buried.

“I’m dead broke,” he also told NBC 4 New York reporter Marc Santia, formerly of WDIV in Detroit, in an interview aired Sunday. “My quality of life is zero.” He’s also in failing health.

Zerilli told Santia that Hoffa is buried in northern Oakland County, but he had nothing to do with the 1975 disappearance. A source tells Deadline Detroit that the property in Oakland Township belonged to a top-ranking mobster.

Zerilli said people intended to move the body to a northern Michigan hunting lodge, but never did. He gives no names.

The NBC 4 correspondent says Zerilli came forward in hopes of profiting from publicity and showing he had nothing to do with Hoffa abrupt disappearance outside a Bloomfield Township restaurant on July 30, 1975.

One thing is clear, Zerilli is talking to more than just the media.

To read more click here.

Detroit Mobster Tony Zerilli Claims He Has Info On Jimmy Hoffa’s Whereabouts

Tony Zerilli/ from WDIV video

 
By Allan Lengel
Deadline Detroit

For decades now we’ve heard of endless tips about the whereabouts of Teamster President Jimmy Hoffa, who vanished in 1975: a stadium, a freeway, an incinerator. And most recently, a driveway in Roseville.

Now comes the latest.

WDIV aired an exclusive interview Sunday night with the Tony Zerilli, 85, described in the past as the Detroit Mafia’s underboss.

Zerilli claims he knows what happened to Hoffa and where he’s buried: About 30 miles away from the Machus Red Fox restaurant in Bloomfield Hills where he was abducted on July 30, 1975.

 For more click here.