Reputed Motor City mobsters and native Sicilians, the D’Anna brothers – Giuseppe (Joe the Hood) D’Anna, 63, and Girolamo (Mimmo) D’Anna, 52, – had their federal racketeering trial pushed back again earlier this month. The D’Annas were scheduled to start trial in Detroit last week on charges filed in a Hobbs Act indictment that landed against them in early 2013. The indictment spawned from an incident in 2011 where Joe D’Anna, flanked by his little brother Mimmo (pronounced MEE-MO), attacked rival restaurant owner Pietro Ventilmiglia with a baseball bat, beating him near death, allegedly over Ventilmiglia’s refusal to pay a street tax.
Federal Court Judge Denise Page Hood set a new start date for trial, scheduling jury selection to begin in the first week of March 2016. Per sources with knowledge of the inner workings of the case, attorneys for the D’Annas are hoping to cut a deal.
Both the D’Anna brothers face 20-year prison terms if convicted and pled guilty in state court in 2012 to assault charges resulting from the same incident – they each did less than four months in the county jail and served the rest of their sentence on home confinement. Unhappy with the light nature of their sentence in state court, the feds decided to come after them and brought charges in the months following their release.
According to sources on the street and in law enforcement, since the assault took place over four years ago, Joe D’Anna has been promoted from a soldier in the Detroit mafia to a captain. He has allegedly long led the syndicate’s “zip” crew after coming to the United States from Sicily with his baby bro by his side in the late 1980s.
In the last six months, he shut down his flagship restaurant in suburban Shelby Township, Michigan, formerly known asTirami Su, but called Pomodoro before shuttering, and across the street from where Ventilmiglia, also a native of Sicily, operated his Nonna’s Italian Kitchen eatery. Joe D’Anna opened the first of what became a chain of Tirami Su Ristorantes around Metro Detroit in the early 1990s. The Shelby Township location was the original Tirami Su and the D’Annas’ headquarters.
Within weeks of Ventilmiglia putting up his sign and opening the doors at Nonna’s Italian Kitchen in 2009, he was ordered by the D’Annas to either shut down his business or begin paying an extortion fee to operate. Ventilmiglia held out and resisted the D’Annas’ shakedown efforts for almost two years, until Joe the Hood lived up to his nickname and went all Joe Di Maggio in a public beating delivered to the helpless proprietor inside his restaurant while Mimmo loomed over his bat-wielding sibling’s shoulder, watching for possible interjectors.
Struck 12 times with the baseball bat, Ventilmiglia suffered a broken arm, a broken skull, a shattered hip and a number of cracked ribs. As Joe D’Anna pummeled him in front of a dining room of horrified onlookers, he threatened to kill him and harm his family in Sicily if he didn’t yield to his demands.
The D’Annas and Ventilmiglia both hail from the town of Terrasini, Sicily, a city in the Palermo region of the island which also produced the two most prominent traditional Detroit mob clans, such, the Toccos and the Zerillis. Brother-in-laws and best friends, William (Black Bill) Tocco and Joseph (Joe Uno) Zerilli, came to Detroit from Terrasini in 1910 and went on to become the founding fathers of the modern Italian mafia in the state of Michigan. One of their top lieutenants was the D’Anna brothers’ great uncle, Anthony (Tony Cars) D’Anna, the crime family’s liaison to the city’s massive auto industry.
When Black Bill (syndicate boss from 1931-1936) and Joe Uno (boss from 1936-1977) passed away of natural causes in the 1970s, they passed the reins of their glorious and gigantically- profitable Midwest mob kingdom to their sons, Giacomo (Black Jack) Tocco and Anthony (Tony Z) Zerilli, who ruled the Motor City rackets as boss and underboss, respectively, into the 2000s, before jealousy, feuding and backbiting over monies owed divided them in the final years of their lives. Black Jack died in the summer of 2014. Tony Z died in March.
Federal surveillance logs and descriptions by informants paint Joe D’Anna as close to Jack Tocco and Tony Zerilli, someone who didn’t choose sides in the pair of former mob princes’ much talked-about haggling and leveraged the goodwill to his advantage according to exclusive Gangster Report sources. These sources claim that in Tocco’s final act as don, before turning over responsibility for the syndicate to his successor, Jack (Jackie the Kid) Giacalone, Black Jack instructed Giacalone to bump Joe the Hood up to a capo post. The sources also peg D’Anna a sometime driver for Zerilli earlier in his mob career.