Detroit mob names new consigliere, Tony Pal now on the clock

Tony Pallazolo Detroit Mob Underboss

The future is now for the Detroit mafia.

The entirety of what had been dubbed “The Future Big 3” by Family administrators is finally in place with the ascension of Motor City mob vet Anthony (Tony Pal) Palazzolo to the position of consigliere in the past few months.

Palazzolo’ appointment to the post by recently-inaugurated boss Jack (Jackie the Kid) Giacalone comes on the heels of the syndicate’s previous consigliere Dominic (Uncle Dom) Bommarito stepping away into retirement.

Giacalone and his underboss Anthony (Chicago Tony) La Piana assumed their jobs atop the Family’s power structure earlier this year. Tony Pal, also sometimes called “The Butterfly,” was always slated to join them after Bommarito helped ease the transition, which, according to well-placed sources, he’s successfully done.

The 74-year old Palazollo has long overseen rackets in the city’s Downriver area, a cluster of working class suburbs located directly south of Detroit, as well as the Michigan mob’s interests in Canada. His father, Salvatore (Sammy Pal) Palazzolo, aka “Sammy Powder” was a drug lieutenant in the local mafia, working under longtime consigliere Giovanni (Papa John) Priziola (1936-1979).

Tony Pal came up in the local underworld groomed by capo Peter (Bozzi) Vitale, the mob king of the city’s Greektown neighborhood and entertainment district throughout the mid-to-late 20th Century. He was named capo of Vitale’s crew in 1998 upon his release from prison on charges of running a money-washing business for criminals and Vitale’s death of natural causes at 89 years old the year prior.

“They call him the Butterfly because he’s very elusive, very shadowy,” retired FBI agent Bill Randall said. “Tony Pal was one of those guys that was difficult to keep tabs on, always very aware of our presence and that’s why we had to bring in a guy from Canada to finally nail him back in the 90s (Palazzolo’s money-laundering bust was after his crew was infiltrated by an undercover Canadian drug cop).”

Last year, deposed underboss and former acting boss Anthony (Tony Z) Zerilli met with the FBI and implicated both Vitale and Palazzolo as the ones that lured notoriously-slain Teamsters boss Jimmy Hoffa to his slaughter. Hoffa had a falling out with his associates in the mob and went missing in July 1975, last seen leaving a suburban Detroit restaurant’s parking lot in a vehicle with a number of other individuals in it.

Zerilli, who had a falling out with Tocco that led to his demotion after a joint-1996 racketeering bust entitled Operation Gametax, told the FBI that Bozzi Vitale and Tony Pal picked Hoffa up at the Machus Red Fox restaurant in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan and drove him to a piece of farm property in Oakland Township (roughly 20 miles away), where Palazzolo did Hoffa in with several smacks to the head with a shovel, at which point him and his mentor Vitale buried him there.

The FBI searched the property in the summer of 2013 and came up empty. Federal audio surveillance at Palazzolo’s Eastern Market-based headquarters, the Detroit Sausage Company, in 1992, caught Tony Pal bragging about his involvement in Hoffa’s disappearance.

The Giacalone-La Piana-Palazzolo triumvirate was pegged as the future leadership of the Detroit mafia for at least the past decade, according to sources on the street and in law enforcement, hand-selected by longtime Don Giacomo (Black Jack) Tocco, who died in July of natural causes at 86 following 35 years on the throne, passing away as the longest-tenured Godfather in America.

Tocco took the reins of the Family on an acting basis around 1970, before being tapped to head the syndicate on an official basis in 1979 at a top-secret gathering of capos at the Timberland Game Ranch in Dexter, Michigan near Ann Arbor that was observed by a photo-snapping FBI surveillance team. The Feds were tipped off to the meeting by Black Jack’s then-driver, bodyguard and cousin Anthony (Fat Tony) Zito (a confidential informant for the Bureau for decades).

Upon his release from prison on the Operation Gametax RICO conviction in 2002, Tocco went about laying the groundwork for the future and what the Family brass was going to look like when he was gone.

Giacalone, 64 and the son of former underboss Vito (Billy Jack) Giacalone and the nephew of street boss Anthony (Tony Jack) Giacalone, was being schooled for his role as an eventual Godfather dating all the way back to his early days on the streets in the 1970s and 1980s. He took his uncle’s place as syndicate street boss in 2000 (Tony Jack died of cancer in 2001) and was named acting boss of the Family sometime in 2012. Billy Jack died that same year of old age.

La Piana, 72 and an alleged expert white-collar gangster and labor union powerbroker, was Tocco’s protégé and a nephew of his via marriage. Some say he’s the real puppet-master behind Giacalone, content with Jackie the Kid being out in front taking all the exposure in the boss’ seat.

At the end of Bozzi Vitale’s life, he pushed Jack Tocco to consider Tony Pal for a future administration post, according to Vitale’s Detroit Police file. Around the time Tocco’s brother Anthony (Tony T) Tocco stepped down as consigliere in the late 200os and Uncle Dom Bommarito, 80, took his spot, Palazzolo was chosen by Black Jack as Bommarito’s successor, according to sources on the street.

Palazzolo began popping up on FBI agents’ radars in the early 1970s, seen driving Bozzi Vitale and occasionally his brother and fellow capo Paul (The Pope) Vitale, around town and escorting them to a series of important mob get-togethers. His name surfaced in the investigation into the 1972 murder of Vitale crew member Gregory (Little Pete) Katranis, fingered by informants for helping Katranis’ own brother and Vitale enforcer Michael (Greektown Mike) Katranis and Giacalone crew members, Ronald (Hollywood Ronnie) Morelli and Robert (Bobby the Animal) La Puma plan and carry out Little Pete’s execution.

Greektown Mike and Little Mike were the sons of Vitale brothers’ lieutenant and strong-arm Petros (Pete the Greek) Katranis. Little Pete angered his mob superiors by freelancing in the local drug and extortion trade and then pushed his luck too far by sucker-punching Morelli, the Giacalone brothers’ protégé and Jackie the Kid’s childhood idol, in a bar room fight over a woman. Less than two weeks later, he was dead.

Morelli died of a heart attack in prison in 1986, three months away from being released. Today, Greektown Mike runs a small crew of hoodlums centered in the Vitale brothers’ old territory which now inhabits a giant hotel and casino.

In 1983, Tony Pal and Detroit LCN “button man” Salvatore (Sammy G) Giordano, brother of former St. Louis mob boss Anthony (Tony G) Giordano, were convicted in federal court of heading a gambling and extortion ring. Then ten years later in the summer of 1993, Palazzolo got caught up in a joint undercover operation between the FBI in Michigan and the cops in Canada where he was nailed offering his money-laundering service to a wired-up undercover Canadian narcotics detective posing as a drug dealer.

“This is my city, nobody does anything in this town without me or my guys giving the go-ahead,” Tony Pal bragged to the Canadian cop in a posh downtown Detroit hotel suite.

Richard Convertino, the U.S. Attorney that prosecuted Palazzolo in the money-washing case, believes that the man they call the Butterfly relishes his status in the mob.

“Tony loves being a gangster, it’s in his DNA,” he said “You could see it at the way he carried himself at the trial and by listening to the bugs we had at Detroit Sausage Co. and the one the undercover was wearing. He doesn’t hide it.”




  1. Scotty D.

    Your the top mafia history author where the Tampa Trafficante family is concerned snd from what I have seen you are obviously very knowledgeable where the Detroit Partnership is concerned…Much Respect.

    But….Don Giacomo (Black Jack) Tocco, who died in July of natural causes at 86 following 35 years on the throne, passing away as the longest-tenured Godfather in America.

    Not so.
    Longtime Buffalo crime family boss Stefano “The Old Man” Magaddino reigned officially as the sitting boss of the Buffalo-Western N.Y. based mafia from 1921-1974 (died July 19, 1974. Age 82)
    “The Old Man of Cosa Nostra” reigned supreme over the Western New York based underworld for basically 52 years. Even if you wanna take away a few years from late 1968-74 while the Buffalo mafia was facing internal revolt and had 3 factions vying for control, you still have the better part of 50 years. The Commission officially recognized Magaddino as the boss even while the Buffalo crime family had two influential factions (Pieri-Frangiamore & Fino-Sansanese) based in Buffalo vying for control. Don Stefano and his relatives, in-laws and loyalists based in Niagara Falls tried to maintain control while the Buffalo factions and their “Acting Leadership”, along with the Rochester (Valenti) and Utica (Falcone), N.Y. who were declaring their independence (only Rochester had the influence through their Pittsburgh and New York connections to break away).

    Just a heads up. Please keep the amazing book projects coming.

    R.J. Rios (aka, Little Joe Shots)

    • Well, the was no official Mafia until the Commission was set up by Luciano, Maggadino’s reign as a LCN Boss didn’t officially start until the early 1930’s. And I meant that Tocco was the longest tenured of any current Boss. Thanks for the heads up!

  2. Jack Tocco absolutely held the longest tenure of any officially sitting boss in the most current of the crime family hierarchies.

    BUT…to say there was no official American mafia until the formation of the 1931 Commission by Lucky Luciano is not accurate in my opinion. In my opinion the American-Sicilian crime families were definately loosely organized by the 1910s and certainly by the start of the 1920s. Stefano Magaddino was the officially recognized American-Sicilian mafia boss of the Western New York area starting in 1922. His predecessor Joe DiCarlo was officially recognized prior to Magaddino. The Castellamarese and Vallelunga factions of Buffalo aligned into the Buffalo/Western New York crime family roughly around 1912 after Buffalo Castellamarese clan leader Angelo Palmeri stepped down to become DiCarlo’s underboss in the newly recognized regime. By the time Prohibition began Stefano Magaddino was a nationally known, respected and feared Sicilian mafioso and and when he took over as boss of the Buffalo crime family in 1922 he was officially recognized across the country.

    This debate could go on and on. I could write a book’s worth of rebuttal on this, but let me just say this.

    One of the best examples of pre-1931 organization is the December 5, 1928 Cleveland Conference.
    In my opinion this was an official American-Sicilian mafia conference to discuss amongst other things, the recent murder of Chicago Sicilian mafia boss Antonio Lombardo in September of 1928. Another important event to be discussed was the very recent October 1928 murder of self-proclaimed American-Sicilian mafia bosses of bosses, Salvatore “Tata” D’Aquila in New York. Even more important to the host, newly crowned Cleveland Sicilian mafia boss Joe Porello was the October 1927 murder of his predecessor Big Joe Lonardo and the official sanctioning of him as the new sitting boss by the delegates. Porello had orchestrated Lonardo’s murder and had eliminated a boss and now needed the support and official sanction of the delegates, which included some of the most influential leaders in the New York Sicilian mafia such as Joe Profaci, Joe Magliocco and Vince Mangano. Profaci and Magliocco were the number 1 & 2 of their own crime family, while Mangano was a top capo for boss Al Mineo. As you know there were other influential American-Sicilian mafia leaders from Tampa and Chicago there as well. Ignazio Italiano of Tampa and Chicago Sicilian mafia leaders and Unione reps. Patsy Lolardo and Joseph Guinta, Lombardo successors.
    This meeting was held to avoid a war in Brooklyn over D’Aquila’s territory and rackets, thus the two Brooklyn factions and leaders present. Chicago wanted support from New York and a sanctioning of Patsy Lolardo as the new boss and Unione leader. Joe Guinta would be his underboss and top Lt. in the Unione.

    Cleveland crime family patriarch Joe Lonardo was a Joe Masseria ally so most certainly he was not invited as the Brooklyn leaders and former D’Aquila supporters would sanction Joe Porello as new boss. Porello most likely received the sanction to hit Lonardo from D’Aquila, a staunch Masseria rival. Of course the meeting was raided by the law before they could start and resolve all the issues, just like the future Apalachin meeting in 1957.

    How do you not have an official American-Sicilian mafia when you have bosses of lesser influence deferring to more powerful bosses, looking for their support and official sanction???
    Sounds official to me. If it only mattered what the Cleveland factions wanted and they only needed to resolve the local matter, then why defer to the other bosses, and in such a serious, official and traditional manner??? Why not send a rep. from Cleveland to New York to get the simple O.K.???
    The Lonardo faction and allies in the Mayfield Rd. Mob/Milano faction want to go to war and wanted revenge. The Porello faction needs new support from New York and Chicago after D’Aquila and Lombardo are hit. These are all Machavellian type intrigues that occur in the Italian mafia or underworld and must be dealt with at a high level within the organization. You don’t deal with 3 major events from different cities or territories unless those events, the circumstances and people that surround it could effect the organization as a whole. No individual boss would give a shit, nor call a big meet unless these events might affect him or the organization directly. If he could handle it himself in house he would, over and done, but all these events directly effected some or indirectly effected others and the organization as a whole. No big meeting needs to be called if its only a local matter, no?

    These are just some thoughts. My opinion, thats all. Lol.

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