June 1, 2019 – Retired Detroit mafia figure Joseph (Joe Hooks) Mirabile died recently of natural causes having avoided many of the pitfalls that come with being part of the “Life.” He took his last breath six weeks ago at home surrounded by family, free from the constraints of the federal governments for the last 34 years.
The 87-year old Mirabile was a confidant of long-reigning Motor City mob don, Giacomo (Black Jack) Tocco, serving as Tocco’s underboss from 2010 until his death of heart failure in 2014. Mirabile passed away at the end of April, having stepped down from his post and into retirement following Tocco being out of the picture. Tocco ruled the Detroit mafia unchallenged for roughly four decades (1977-2014).
“Jack liked having Hooks around, he saw him as loyal…..he trusted him and Jack didn’t trust a lot of people,” said someone familiar with their friendship.
Under Tocco’s regime, Joe Hooks handled the cash-cow pornography racket for the crime family, controlling a majority of the pornographic distribution throughout the state of Michigan and taking pieces of a string of adult bookstores, X-rated movie houses and peep show palaces peppered across Metro Detroit. According to FBI documents related to Tocco and the early days of his tenure on the throne, Mirabile headed a fruitful street-taxing effort of the multitude of strip clubs being built along 8 Mile Road, the northernmost dividing line between the city and the suburbs, in the 1980s.
“Joe was an expert at extortion, he finessed the hell out of people, that’s why they called him Joe Hooks, once he got his hooks into you, it was a wrap, it was over with,” said a former associate.
And that isn’t even the whole story: Another reason for the nickname was a birth defect that gave Mirabile a hook-like hand.
Per Michigan State Police records, Joe Hooks also maintained a stake in a sizable sports-gambling business and dabbled in loan sharking. His partner in his bookmaking affairs was another Tocco confidant named Frank (Chinky) Versaci according to the records. Versaci was one of Detroit’s biggest handicappers and ran his book out of a butcher shop on the Eastside.
Mirabile’s mentor in the mob was old school Tocco-Zerilli crime family capo Matthew (Mike the Enforcer) Rubino. According to FBI records detailing Rubino’s activities in the 1960s, Mirabile was Rubino’s main collector and troubleshooter for all of his numbers houses. Rubino died of a heart attack in prison in 1972.
Proving adept in staying off wiretaps, Joe Hooks escaped being dragged into the landmark Operation Game Tax indictment, responsible for bringing down Tocco and most of his administration in the 1990s. Tocco emerged from prison in 2002 and went about business atop his vast Midwest mob empire undeterred. It was during this period of time, per sources, that Mirabile’s positioning in the crime family pecking order increased and he became a trusted advisor to the crown.
“We’d see Joe Hooks with Jack, they’d huddle up on the golf course or in the back of a steakhouse…….we knew he (Mirabile) was the porn boss and paid a great deal of tribute to the Tocco family,” retired FBI agent Mike Carone said. “That’s the only language these guys understand or care about it. If you are an earner, you’re always in good standing with the bosses.”
Mirabile had ties to mafia families in California and New York. Most of the wholesale porn he peddled came via his connections in New York’s Gambino mob. He did a short prison term in the 1980s and was released in 1985. His brother in law was Dominic (Uncle Dom) Bommarito, Jack Tocco’s last consigliere and a true gentleman of the underworld, who passed peacefully two years ago.