GROSSE POINTE PARK, Mich. (AP) — Reputed Detroit mob boss Jack W. Tocco, who was convicted of racketeering in 1998 in a federal crackdown on organized crime, has died. He was 87.
Tocco, who said he fought his entire life to clear his name, died Monday at home in the Detroit suburb of Grosse Pointe Park, according to Bagnasco & Calcaterra Funeral Home, which is handling arrangements. A cause of death wasn't released.
Tocco, whose family had a linen business, grew up in suburban Detroit and repeatedly proclaimed his innocence. He was convicted of racketeering and conspiracy to commit extortion in 1998. He served nearly three years behind bars in the case and paid $950,000 to the government.
Attorney James Bellanca Jr., whose firm represents Tocco, said he learned of Tocco's death from his family. In an email, he said Tocco lived his life "under the scrutiny of the government and the subject of public accusation." He said Tocco tried to clear his name.
"Individuals familiar with his conviction in 1998 believe it was based more on the reputation that had been created for him than any evidence of wrongdoing presented against him at trial," Bellanca said. "He served his sentence quietly and with the same dignity he lived his life."
A federal jury in 1998 convicted Tocco of taking part in a 30-year racketeering conspiracy that included loan-sharking, illegal gambling, obstruction of justice and attempts to gain hidden interests in Nevada casinos. The FBI labeled him the Detroit crime family's boss in an organizational chart released in 1990.
Tocco was included in a 1996 indictment targeting alleged organized crime figures in Detroit. At a news conference about the case at the time, FBI Special Agent Joseph Martinolich Jr., who headed the Detroit office, said: "Here in Detroit, we believe we've driven a stake through the heart of La Cosa Nostra."
Tocco initially was sentenced to one year and a day, but that sentence was later invalidated by the appeals court after the government argued the penalty was too lenient. In 2000, a federal judge in Detroit imposed a new sentence of 34 months.
Tocco, who completed his 34-month sentence, that year thanked relatives and friends for their support and criticized former associates who testified against him.
"All my adult life, I've been fighting to clear my name," he said at a court hearing. "And I will continue that fight to clear my name until the time I die."