The Local 4 Defenders uncovered new information about the Jimmy Hoffa files and were the first to report on Tony Zerilli – the alleged former Mafia boss who claims he knows what happened to the Teamster leader and where his body is.
Now, the Defenders are exposing some possible holes in Zerilli’s story.
During the interview with former Defender Marc Santia, Zerilli said he was never involved with the mob.
“Absolutely not. I know all about it but I wasn’t involved in no way, shape or form,” he said.
But the government says he was, and went to prison for it.
Former Washington Post reporter and current writer for DeadlineDetroit.com, Allan Lengel, says Zerilli was caught on federal wiretaps in the 1960s talking Mafia business in great detail. Those secret recordings also have Zerilli threatening Hoffa’s life a decade before Hoffa was killed.
“He was heard saying something to the effect of, ‘We need to grab Hoffa,’” Lengel said.
In his interview, Zerilli said he was in prison at the time of Hoffa’s disappearance but would have protected him if he could.
“If I wasn’t away, I don’t think it would have ever happened. That’s all I can tell you. I would’ve done anything in the world to protect Jim Hoffa,” Zerilli said.
Another concern for the FBI is Zerilli's determination to cash in. He has a Web site promoting an upcoming book. Is he making up a story just to sell books? Or is he telling the truth in hopes a Hoffa discovery lands him a pay day?
One thing that does match up is the Oakland County location that Zerilli says he thinks Hoffa is buried.
In a story the Defenders broke Monday, property records show that Mafia boss Jack Tocco owned the property at the time when Hoffa went missing.
Zerilli took Santia to the property, saying Hoffa was taken there and put under the ground in a shallow grave.
“Once he was buried here, he was buried and they let it go,” Zerilli said.