The Casino Express Massacre: Detroit Mob’s “Dago Tony” Ciraulo Doing Life In Prison For Grisly 1991 Halloween Double Murder

November 23, 2022 — The Detroit mafia’s Antonio (Dago Tony) Ciraulo went into the Casino Express travel agency that doubled as a social club and backdoor casino in Macomb County, Michigan on Halloween morning in 1991 and killed the club’s operator Dennis (Rocky) Graziani and Graziani’s friend and worker Tommy Gambino execution style; they were shot in the back of the heads and their throats were cut. Ciraulo tried killing gambler Mark Edmonds the same way, but Edmonds got away and flagged down a cop across the street from the club.

Less than an hour later, Dago Tony Ciraulo was in police custody and facing a double-homicide charge. He was convicted at an August 1992 trial. The motive for the slayings still remains murky all these years later.  

Some theorize he snapped in the throes of drug addiction, his paranoia and powder-infused erratic behavior getting the better of him. Ciraulo belonged to the Detroit mafia’s Giacalone crew. According to FBI documents and informant files, Dago Tony came to Michigan from Sicily in the 1970s and helped run the crew’s narcotics and gambling rackets.

Detroit mob street bosses Anthony (Tony Jack) Giacalone and Vito (Billy Jack) Giacalone oversaw day-to-day affairs in the city’s Tocco-Zerilli crime family for a half-century and according to federal authorities are responsible for the infamous kidnapping and murder of popular Teamsters chief Jimmy Hoffa in July 1975. Hoffa was feuding with his benefactors in the Detroit mafia and other mob crime families around the country for control over the mammoth labor union.

Gangster Report’s review of police and court files connected to the Casino Express case paint the picture of what transpired:

Casino Express was located in a strip mall off Groesbeck Avenue in Clinton Township, Michigan, a working-class community less than ten miles outside Detroit. According to FBI records related to Dago Tony Ciraulo, Casino Express “belonged” to people reporting to Billy Giacalone in the local mob hierarchy. The Giacalone crew was allegedly running travel junkets to Las Vegas and Atlantic City out of Casino Express, as well as both legal and illegal gambling activities.

The Giacalones were never implicated by police or prosecutors for having anything to do with the senseless slayings of Graziani and Gambino. “Tony Jack” passed away peacefully in 2001. “Billy Jack” died following a short bout with dementia in 2012.

Ciraulo was at the club gambling most of the evening in question on October 31, 1991. He left at around 2:00 a.m. When he returned a half-hour later, at 2:30 a,m. flanked by his young girlfriend Debbie Mills, he blasted through the door with a gun and a knife and ordered Rocky Graziani, Tommy Gambino and Mark Edmonds to stand with their hands up and against the wall. Dago Tony bound their hands and mouths with duct tape and shot them all in the back of the head, slashing their throats to make sure the job was done.

But it wasn’t.

Graziani and Edmonds weren’t dead. Graziani got up and tried to run towards the kitchen’s backdoor. He was shot down and finished off by Ciraulo. Knowing Ciraulo was preoccupied with Graziani, Edmonds willed his way off the ground and made a dash through the front door and across a rainy Groesbeck Avenue into the arms of a Clinton Township Police Officer conducting traffic duty.

Ciraulo fled the scene with Mills, but no money. After unsuccessfully trying to break open the club’s poker machines, Dago Tony’s blood-stained hands had no cash in them when he took off. Police detained Ciraulo at 3:30 five miles from scene in Warren, Michigan during a traffic stop. Dago Tony’s pants and windbreaker had blood spatters on them and arresting officers found a gun shell in the ashtray of his BMW.

No gun was ever found. The knife prosecutors said Ciraulo used to slice his victims’ throats didn’t have his prints on it. Edmonds was the star witness at his trial. Ciraulo is 71 today and serving his twin life sentences at a state prison in Lapeer, Michigan.