The mob subunit in Flint, Michigan led by Joseph (Joe White) Giacalone, kin to the notorious Giacalone mafia clan down in Detroit, attempted to kill a fellow crew member and a Genesee County prosecutor back in the 1960s. Giacalone and his co-conspirators were almost successful in offing one of their own, but didn’t make nearly as much headway in their plan to eliminate the man tasked with putting them behind bars.

Giacalone, 78, died of natural causes earlier this year. At the time of his death, he owed the city of Flint, a frequently financially-hamstrung community an hour north of Motown, 1.3 million dollars for loans he accepted from the municipality towards the building of a factory that went into his pockets instead of into any form of construction.

When he was in his 20s, Giacalone was running gambling and heist rackets out of a Flint area bar called Nino’s, surrounded by a group of hoodlums, thieves and bookies. One of Giacalone’s underlings was Charles Thomas, who got jammed up with local police in a drug deal and agreed to cooperate in building a case against the boys at Nino’s. Within a few months, Giacalone was tipped off that Thomas was a rat.

According to court files and police reports, Giacalone marked Thomas and Genesee County Prosecutor Robert Leonard for death. The contract on Leonard never got much traction. Thomas, on the other hand, was lucky to have come out of the whole incident alive.

Per the court records, Giacalone decided to lure Thomas to Pennsylvania with the promise of a counterfeit money score. Giacalone and two of his henchmen, Charles Kinsman and Loren Jolly traveled to Pittsburgh in late August 1967 and met up with Erie, Pennsylvania mob figure Caesar (Chuck the Cannon) Montevechio at the Sheraton Hotel.

Montevechio was associated with both the mafia syndicates in Cleveland and Pittsburgh and helped Giacalone organize the hit. The plan was to clip Thomas at the Avon Motel in nearby Avon, Pennsylvania. Kinsman eventually left back for Michigan before the attempt on Thomas’ life was made.

Flint’s Joe Giacalone

On August 31, 1967, Jolly shot Thomas twice in the back of the head inside a room at the motel. Thomas survived and identified the shooter to authorities as Jolly. Less than three months later, Giacalone and several others were indicted for the two attempted murders and bookmaking and armed robbery linked to their affairs in Flint. Jolly, Kinsman and Thomas all testified against Giacalone at his trial.

It was Jolly and Kinsman who clued the FBI in on the conspiracy to knock off Leonard. Law enforcement surveillance details reported seeing Kinsman visit Leonard in his office in the Genesee County Circuit Court.

Giacalone was convicted and sentenced to 50 years in prison of which he did 20. He walked free in November 1987. Montevechio would go on to be found guilty in the high-profile Erie gangland execution of bookmaker Frank (Bolo) Dovishaw in 1983. He had acted as a fence for stolen property coming from  mobsters in Michigan, including Giacalone’s Flint contingent. Leonard, tied by FBI documents to Detroit Mafioso James (Jimmy Eyes) Tamer, got booted from the prosecutor’s office in 1980 for embezzling Genesee County funds and did three years of prison time.


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