DETROIT — A man convicted of crimes as a reputed Mafia captain is claiming missing Teamsters boss Jimmy Hoffa was buried in suburban Detroit.
Tony Zerilli was in prison when Hoffa disappeared from a Detroit-area restaurant in 1975, but tells New York TV station WNBC he was informed about Hoffa’s whereabouts after his release. The ailing 85-year-old took a reporter to a field near Rochester, north of Detroit, but no exact location was disclosed. The report was also aired on Detroit’s WDIV.
“The master plan was … they were going to put him in a shallow grave here,” Zerilli said. “Then, they were going to take him from here to Rogers City upstate. There was a hunting lodge and they were going to bury in a shallow grave, then take him up there for final burial. Then, I understand, that it just fell through.”
Zerilli did not say during the aired interview why he chose to make his claims now. WNBC reported he is promoting an upcoming book titled “Hoffa Found,” the website for which promises to reveal details about Hoffa’s death.
The FBI declined to comment when asked if Zerilli’s claims were credible. Former Detroit FBI head Andrew Arena said the remarks deserve serious consideration.
“Anthony Zerilli was reputed to be the underboss of the Detroit organized crime family, so he would have been in the know,” Arena said.
Zerilli’s record includes a 2002 conviction for conspiracy and extortion. He was sentenced to six years in prison.
Hoffa, Teamsters president from 1957-71, was an acquaintance of mobsters and adversary to federal officials. The day he disappeared, he was supposed to meet with a New Jersey Teamsters boss and a Detroit Mafia captain.
In September, police took soil from a suburban back yard after a tip Hoffa had been buried there. It was just one of many fruitless searches. Previous tips led police to a horse farm northwest of Detroit in 2006, a Detroit home in 2004 and a backyard pool two hours north of the city in 2003.