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.

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