Mobile Anti-Mob Technology: Feds Hit Pay Dirt In 1990s Bugging The Cars Of Detroit Wiseguys

These are some pieces of conversations recorded in the automobiles of Detroit mobsters during the 1990s Operation GameTax investigation. An expansive racketeering case, the Operation GameTax indictment dropped 20 years ago this week in federal court in Michigan, naming 17 co-defendants (16 of which would be convicted and jailed), a majority of them making up almost the entire sitting Detroit mafia administration.

Then-soldiers Nove Tocco and Paul (Big Paulie) Corrado were the victims of the most impactful FBI bugs. Tocco and Corrado were related by blood and marriage to Giacomo (Black Jack) Tocco and Anthony (Tony Z) Zerilli, the Detroit mob boss and underboss respectively from the 1970s through the 2000s. Zerilli was Nove Tocco’s uncle.

Nove Tocco ordering a beating

“Just don’t go too far. I don’t want him dead. But, I’d like him to feel it. I don’t give a shit if he’s in the hospital for six months. He’ll get the picture real quick” ”

Nove Tocco extorting a local businessman

“The reason you pay is because this is an Italian-run town and you’re in a controlled business. If you don’t want to pay, close the fuck down and get the fuck outta Detroit”

Nove Tocco talking about a sit down with his superiors

“I was called to a meeting with Jack and Tony Tocco (Black Jack’s brother and lieutenant, the only co-defendant to be acquitted in the Operation GameTax case) and told ‘this is our city and you’re gonna do what the hell we tell you to do, plain and simple.’ These guys aint diplomats.”

Nove Tocco and Corrado discussing their receiving a murder contract on local biker boss Harry (Taco) Bowman, International President of The Outlaws from 1983-1999 and who was feuding with then-mob capo Jack (Jackie the Kid) Giacalone, the son and nephew of then-syndicate street bosses Vito (Billy Jack) Giacalone and Anthony (Tony Jack) Giacalone, respectively.  

NT- Something’s going on here that’s not right. I don’t know exactly what it is right now, but things ain’t sitting right with me. There are too many coincidences. My uncle Tony warned me yesterday about the whole Taco thing.

PC – What did he say?

NT – He says something’s not right. He says this story’s not right. Something is wrong with the whole thing. He don’t think this is all Tony Giacalone.

PC – In what way?

NT – He thinks Jackie might be in his dad and uncle’s ear, playing us into Taco for his own reasons.

PC – Right. Fucking exactly, ‘Cause Jackie feels Taco is a threat to Jackie.

NT – My uncle Tony is gonna corner Tony Jack and get to the bottom of it, I told him do it pronto. They only told us to back off this Taco thing because they wanna know how much Jackie knows, does he know more than he says he knows. I was with my uncle yesterday and he says Jackie gave up a craps game and Taco and his Outlaw boys took it. I said, I thought it was two separate games. He says how the fuck does Jackie let Taco take his game. And then he says, from what I here Tony Jack is pissed about it. He tells me he thinks fucking Jackie is pushing you and me at Taco to get Taco out of the way cause he cant deal with him. This came out of his mouth, okay?

Pc – Yeah, I told you I believed that from the start

Nove Tocco on why Tony Giacalone is impressed by a local up-and-comer 

“Ya know why Tony Giacalone likes that guy? My uncle says the other day, Tony Jack likes him cause he started out robbing motherfuckers, sticking up card games and shit. Thats the way he started and that’s what he respects”
On the Giacalone family reputation

NT –All the Giacalones like to get puffed up and put on a show. Thats what my uncle has always said.

PC – And they do

NT- Well, he says, all of ’em can get like that and act like that, but in his mind, Tony and Billy are the only ones who have the right. They can back it up. There aint no other person with the last name Giacalone who really can, ya know?

PC – Personally, I agree with him

NT- Yeah, its’ definitely true

PC – Ya know, Tony Jack has got a real good relationship with the Kid, Jackie and things are being said between them that aint being said to your uncle.

NT- I’m sure thats true.

Discussing shaking down bookmakers

PC – As far as bookmakers, how many are left to grab?

NT- There’s Lumpy. There’s Sweetmeat.

PC – Another year and a half, we’ll be able to lock up another ten bookies, ya know? We have to go at it the right way, though. We can’t just bulldoze our way in. We gotta take our time. Ya touch base with a guy. He starts thinking about it. and then he comes around. Don’t muscle him too early, ya know what I’m saying? We got to branch out. Start hitting loan sharks too. I mean, how much time is this stuff really taking up?

Talking more about the Giacalones bros.

NT – I hope Tony Giacalone ain’t fucking my uncle

PC – Believe me,buddy, he is

NT – He does love to put things in the fucking fire doesn’t he?

PC – Billy will work it out with him.

NT- Well, Billy’s a politician. Tony’s not.

PC – Billy knows which way they’re thinking and he’ll make it right. He ain’t no saint, but he knows what’s fair

NT – I don’t doubt you, Paulie. I think you’re probably right

PC – Ya gotta understand about that family. They got money. They don’t need this shit no more. But they love playing their games. They get off on this crap. They treat people like dog shit. They wanna fuck with people. They feel like they were fucked with when they were coming up, ’cause ya know they didn’t come from nothing, so they got the right. They feel they took all the risks and took all the hits and now it’s their time to be on the other end of it. That’s their attitude.

NT – They wanna make Jackie Giacalone the next Jack Tocco, thats what they want to do. When it’s all said and done they want to die knowing a Giacalone is going to be at the top.

Talking about beefing with Tony Jack’s son, Anthony (Fat Tony) Giacalone, Jr. and his father over Nove and Paul over a series of brazen shakedowns 

NT – Fat Tony is telling me this and that. He says his father and his cousin Jackie are upset about the way I handled the whole thing. I says, Anthony, I ain’t talking about this shit with you. Who the fuck are you to get in my face about this?

PC – You let them fuck with you, get you all riled up

NT – They want to see how far they can push me

PC – Don’t let ‘em get into your head

NT – He says ‘my cousin Jackie tried to help you and you disrespected him. I said, go fuck yourself, Anthony. I said, you know and I know your cousin Jackie ain’t gonna lose one fucking cent on this whole thing. I told him I’ll do whatever the fuck I wanna do. I says, who needs your fucking cousin anyway? Your cousin Jackie wants to make a living, god bless him. But I ain’t ever taken down a score with him and he ain’t never made one with me. You guys do what the fuck you want to do and leave me and Paulie alone.

PC – I tell ya one thing, when it comes to the Giacalones, ya gotta stand up to that family. that’s the only thing they respect.

NT – Who needs this shit?

PC – Ya have to understand, Nove, you’re talking to ignorant people.

NT – I just don’t want to hear it no more from them. It’s been two fucking years of bantering back and forth. They fucked it up. If they’re having trouble collecting, it’s their problem not mine

PC – When did this happen?

NT – About three weeks ago and I ain’t seen him since. Fat Anthony says his dad wants an answer. I said, an answer on what? He says, on what you’re gonna do here. I says, I ain’t undermining your father, but I built up my own business and nobody’s gonna take it away from me. I says, who the fuck are you? Your dad knows the fucking rules. The spots opened up. I went and carved out a piece of the city for me and Paulie. I got the authorization. Everybody who needs to be getting a taste is getting a taste. so, what the fuck is the problem? I said they can dispute it all they want, but their gonna have a fucking argument on their hands.

PC – What did he say?

NT – I says if Jack and Tawn (Tony Tocco’s nickname) are the ones asking all these questions, then he should tell’em to call me and ask this bullshit to me themselves. I says Jack Tocco gave his fucking word. What’s mine is mine. That’s what he said. Now he wants to go back on his fucking word? That don’t mean I can’t fucking squawk.

PC – We’ve got to watch ourselves. ‘Cause I don’t trust those motherfuckers.

NT – I know what’s in their heads. Sure as I’m sitting right here, I know. They had a meeting with Tony Jack and my uncle Tony a couple of months ago and said things were getting too volatile, too noisy on the streets. They asked, my uncle Tony to tell us to cool it. That’s just an excuse, ’cause they really want all that money for themselves.

PC – I don’t give a fuck what they think. Its not theirs to take, fucking period. The roaring twenties are done!!

Talking about the Tocco’s paranoia

NT – They’re scared of going to prison

PC- Yeah, Jack and Tawn are triple fucking cautious.

NT. The Giacalone brothers used to makes jokes about that. It used to be a big inside joke, if you wanna get rid of Jack and Tawn, just tell’em you’re getting heat and you’ll never see’em again. Ya know, if you didn’t want to be bothered by them and get them off a score thats what you said and you were home free.

PC- I mean there’s nothing wrong with being cautious.

NT – Yeah, but ya can’t be too cautious. Ya gotta do your thing and put yourself out there sometimes. Tony Giacalone has never been like that. My uncle Tony has never been like that.

PC – Guys like Mike Polizzi (Tocco’s consigliere) and Vince Meli (capo) have made a real good living with a lot of heat.

NT – I mean just cause ya got some heat, ya can’t say hello to a guy?

PC- if you’re making money on the street your whole life, you’re probably gonna have to go to jail at some point. It’s about minimizing your risk, but still being able to make moves.

Complaining about the Giacalone bros reaction to the tandem’s extortion tactics

PC – Billy and Tony Jack are in there with Jack and your uncle saying who the fuck are these kids? They’re saying, ‘we don’t shake certain people down like this cause it brings heat and we’re letting these kids fucking do it with our blessing. We ain’t doing it, why the fuck are we gonna let them? That’s why we’re hearing to pull back.

NT – And fucking Jackie started it

PC – Jackie started it last year right when he got out (of prison) and his dad is finishing it for him. If you’re afraid to shake a guy down and he ain’t with you, then how can you protect them? Thats the way I look at it.

NT – They’re getting a lot of heat over there

PC – Its mainly Jackie. He don’t like the heat. We turned the heat up on him more than anybody.

NT – He’s booking, he’s robbing bookmakers, stiffing bookmakers, shaking bookmakers down and we’re bringing heat on him? That’s not what’s brining the heat. It’s us? Come on.

About Jack Tocco’s approach to sitdowns.

NT – I wonder whose side your dad and uncles used to come down on?

PC- Whose side?

NT – I mean if they sided with Jack or against Jack

PC – My dad (deceased capo Dominic “Fats” Corrado) used to tell me, Jack Tocco goes around to everyone before a sit down and tells them whats gonna take place. He’ll go to a guy like Vince Meli and tell him, look, this is the problem and when it comes up you make sure to say such and such. Voice your opinion at this certain time. See he motivates his own people and everyone is fucking trumped up before the fucking meeting. He does the same thing with Pete Vitale (capo). He’s does the same thing with Jimmy Quasarano (capo-consigliere). He’s got everyone on his side before the fucking meeting takes place.

NT – That doesn’t surprise me

PC -You gotta politic with Jack and Tawn

NT – Huh?

PC- Oh yeah. I’ll tell ya another thing. They don’t trust nobody. Jack and Tawn don’t trust nobody. If they’re mad at cha and they get it in their heads that you’re bad, forget about it. Tony Jack can hold a grudge too. Billy, on the other hand, is a politician. Billy never raises his voice needlessly. That’s what people respect.

Speaking of how the feds bug cars and how that can hurt them

PC – My theory right now is if we go to work, we have to assume we’re under surveillance. These guys have a fucking hard on for us.

NT – We shouldn’t make driving around like this a everyday thing

PC – Absolutely. We keep meeting every day, sooner or later, they’re gonna nail down our routine. If they ever bugged our car, we’re fucking dead. Ya know that don’t you? We talk about everything in the car.

Chatting about the possibility of a pending street war

PC – This means Jack and them are telling us to go fuck ourselves. Now, If we’re gonna go back and tell ’em to go fuck themselves, we have to be ready to go all the way. Basically let ‘em know we’ll take it all the way ya know?

NT. – I agree. But I don’t think my uncle would ever be in favor of any violence. He don’t want nobody fighting. It’s bad for business. He’ll be there in the sit down trying to make sure that nobody on either side, is yelling at each other or anything gets outta hand.

PC – I know how he is

NT – I mean, lets face it. He’s 65, 66 years old. When you’re that age you don’t want to see all your relatives shooting at each other in the middle of the fucking streets.

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