December 6, 2022 — Detroit mob collector Greg (Little Pete) Katranis was found dead in the back of the trunk of his brand-new Cadillac Fleetwood automobile 50 years ago this week in what became known as a “message” murder due to Little Pete’s toxically bullish, sticky-handed behavior and sucker punch of a then rising-star mafia lieutenant when he was asked to tone down his wild antics.
Police in Metro Detroit discovered 30-year old Little Pete Katranis beaten and strangled to death, his hands removed from his body, in the parking lot of the Miracle Mile Shopping Center in Bloomfield Township, Michigan on the afternoon of December 12, 1972. Katranis was the son of former Motor City mafia figure Petros (Pete the Greek) Katranis and the brother of longtime Tocco-Zerilli crime family enforcer Michael (Big Mike) Katranis.
Informants told the FBI, Big Mike had the painstaking task of luring his younger brother to his murder, told if he didn’t, he too would be killed for his sibling’s misdeeds. The Katranis slaying was suspected to have been carried out by the Detroit mob’s infamous Giacalone crew.
In the years after Prohibition, “Pete the Greek” Katranis played a pivotal role in helping the Detroit Italian mob take over and control the city’s downtown “Greektown” entertainment district. Katranis was the main muscle for the Tocco-Zerilli’s Corrado crew in Greektown in that era. His sons, Little Pete and Big Mike followed him into the family business of strongarm work and racketeering, running with a clique of brash up-and-comers in the mob’s Corrado and Giacalone crews during the late 1960s and 1970s.
The leader of the Detroit mob’s youth infusion in that day was swashbuckling and ambitious Ronald (Hollywood Ronnie) Morelli, the driver and bodyguard for the Tocco-Zerilli crime family’s legendary street boss, Anthony (Tony Jack) Giacalone. On the streets of Motown, Giacalone spoke for the administration and Morelli spoke for Giacalone.
At some point in late 1972, Katranis was caught stealing from collections he was making and freelancing on drug and extortion rackets of his own without sharing his ill-gotten gains with Giacalone and his bosses in the Tocco-Zerilli clan. Giacalone dispatched Morelli to give Little Pete a final warning to reel in his subversive ploys, but Little Pete allegedly took offense to Morelli bringing up the issue in a public setting. The next night at the Bachelor Quarters Lounge, Little Pete Katranis decked Morelli from the side in front of a crowded and stunned group of BQ regulars.
Three days later, Katranis was dead, allegedly brutally slain inside a suburban Detroit basement near the shopping center his body was found at. Little Pete’s hands were cut off because he put his hands on a “made man.”
Pete the Greek had died of cancer years earlier. Big Mike Katranis served the Detroit mob admirably for more than four decades before dying of natural causes at age 76 in 2015.
Hollywood Ronnie Morelli dropped dead of a heart attack in prison in the summer of 1985. Tony Giacalone, the No. 1 suspect in the still-unsolved disappearance and murder of Teamsters boss Jimmy Hoffa back in 1975, died under indictment for racketeering in 2001.
This article was originally posted here