May 19, 2020 – Detroit mob soldier Antonio (Toto) Ruggirello died of COVID-19 this week at 83 years old. He was the last of the four nails-tough Ruggirello brothers who once ran a crew that controlled rackets in Washtenaw and Genesee Counties.
The Ruggirellos have appeared on government investigative reports as “persons of interest” in the iconic murder and kidnapping conspiracy that took the life of labor union chief Jimmy Hoffa four and a half decades ago. Authorities suspect the Ruggirello crew might have been involved with disposing of Hoffa’s body. The famed Hoffa case remains an open and active investigation out of the Detroit FBI office.
The Ruggirello brothers were highly-trusted lieutenants in the Detroit mafia for years, per FBI records and Michigan State Police memos. Longtime don, Giacomo (Black Jack) Tocco was elected boss in a top-secret gathering of all the Tocco-Zerilli crime family capos held at the Ruggirellos’ Timberland Game Ranch in Dexter, Michigan, just outside of the Washtenaw county seat of Ann Arbor, on the afternoon of June 10, 1979. The inauguration ceremony was photographed by the FBI.
Tocco died in of heart failure in 2014. The Ruggirellos’ father, “Big Toto” was Tocco’s father’s bodyguard during the Crosstown Mob War of the early 1930s. William (Black Bill) Tocco founded the Detroit mob in 1931 after claiming victory in the war that broke out at the tail end of Prohibition.
According to his FBI file, Black Jack Tocco used the Ruggirello brothers as muscle in his rise up the ranks of crime family. Luigi (Louie the Bulldog) Ruggirello and Antonino (Tony Cigars) Ruggirello were considered co-crew bosses, per the Tocco files, with Louie running Ann Arbor from Timberland Game Ranch and Tony maintaining a foothold in the factory town of Flint out in Genesee County.
Toto Ruggirello was convicted alongside his older brother Tony in 1977 for the attempted murder of a Flint numbers banker refusing to pay tribute to the mob. Their attempt to blow him up in a car bomb failed. When a crew member turned state’s evidence, they tried to kill him in a state-prison protection unit, per Tocco’s FBI file.
Tony Ruggirello, 85, died last summer of natural causes. Louie Ruggirello lost a bout with cancer in 1987. Joseph (Jo Jo) Ruggirello passed away in 2013 at 81.
The FBI have received tips through the years that slain Teamsters leader Jimmy Hoffa is buried at Timberland Game Ranch, once the premier upscale hunting lodge in the state of Michigan. Hoffa disappeared on his way to a sit down with mob figures from Detroit and New Jersey at a Bloomfield Township, Michigan restaurant called the Red Fox on July 30, 1975. It’s a 35-mile drive from the Red Fox (now the westside flagship of the Andiamo chain) to the Timberland Game Ranch.
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