Billy Giacalone, who rose to Borgata underboss before dying of natural causes in the winter of 2012, was assigned duties looking after the working-class, ethnically-diverse Ohio town less than an hour’s drive from Detroit, in 1955, according to his FBI file, by Detroit mob brass following syndicate capo Peter (Horseface Pete) Licavoli relocating to Arizona for the latter part of his gangland tenure.
“Toledo has always been a very important part of the Detroit (LCN) Family, from the Licavolis to the Giacalones, it’s gotten a lot of emphasis from up top (the syndicate administration) and a lot of attention because of that, you do what your boss says, you know, especially in that line of work,” retired Detroit FBI agent Mike Carone said.
Moceri was killed gangland style shortly thereafter.
As a college graduation present back in 1949, Detroit Godfather Joe Zerilli and his brother-in-law and fellow Michigan mafia founding father Black Bill Tocco, bought and gave their sons, mob princes and heir apparents, Anthony (Tony Z) Zerilli and Giacomo (Black Jack) Tocco, the Hazel Park Raceway.
Toledo’s Whitey Besase and Tony Paul, Akron’s Leo Lips Moceri and Jimmy La Fatch and Jack White Licavoli and Tony Dope Delsanter representing Trumbull and Mahoning Valley counties were all seen parading through.
Whitey Besase was indicted with Yonnie Licavoli for the string of Toledo mob murders he was incarcerated for in the 1930s, but had the charges dropped before trial.
While Ohio underworld territory in Cleveland and Youngstown would be besieged by violent power struggles before the century’s end, Toledo, like the Detroit crime family that oversaw it, was a picture of stability.
Michigan mobsters encouraged and personally delivered patronage to the many Northwest Ohio betting parlors.
Licavoli was convicted of conspiracy in the Kennedy slaying – as well as the murders of rival Jewish bootleggers Abe Lubitsky and Norm Blatt and the murder of Kennedy’s gal pal Louise Bell – and sentenced to life in prison.
“There was a ton of gambling down there, a very big pie in terms of number of bettors.
It’s close enough to Detroit for guys to get down there in a hurry, maybe two hours closer to the guys in Cleveland and the city was maintenanced very well, the Detroit guys ran a tight ship, and in turn generated major profits for years.” Licavoli died of a heart disease in 1984. Louis in the mid-1920s, founding and leading of the River Gang, a murderous bootlegging organization he ran with help from his brother Thomas (Yonnie) Licavoli, brother-in-law Joseph (Scarface Joe) Bommarito and his first cousins James (Jack White) Licavoli and Joseph (Joe Misery) Moceri.
Jack Tocco and Tony Zerilli replaced their fathers as boss and underboss respectively in the 1970s.
Tony Z had originally been acting boss from 1965 until he was sent to prison in 1974 for skimming six million dollars-worth of cash from and holding illegal silent ownership in Las Vegas’ Frontier Hotel and Casino.