Anthony "Tony Pro" Provenzano was a New Jersey racketeer with strong links to organized labor. Bernardo Provenzano was a Sicilian Mafia leader captured by Italian police in 2006 after decades in hiding. Giuseppe Provenzano was a 19th Century gang leader in New Orleans.
c. 1912 to Dec. 12, 1988.
Provenzano of New Jersey (also a resident of Florida) is believed to have been a key link between organized labor and organized crime in the 1960s and 70s.
He was reportedly a senior member of New York's Genovese crime family. He also rose to a leadership position in the regional Teamsters during Jimmy Hoffa's reign. Hoffa promoted Tony Pro into the Union City, NJ, Teamster administration in order to avoid a federal labor demand to eject the reputed mobster from the union rank and file.
It seems Hoffa had to maintain a relationship with him at all costs. The two men apparently cooperated on schemes involving the Teamster pension fund.
Provenzano and Hoffa reportedly had a falling out during a shared time in a Lewisburg, Pennsylvania, prison. It is possible that Hoffa came to realize the mistake he made when he allied himself with organized crime. When Hoffa won his release and sought to regain control of the Teamsters, Provenzano stood in his way.
Hoffa tried to mend his fences. He reportedly requested a meeting to settle things with Tony Pro.
A meeting was scheduled for 2 p.m., July 30, 1975, at Machus Red Fox restaurant in the Detroit suburb of Bloomfield Hills. It is supposed that Provenzano and Detroit mobster Anthony Giacalone were invited. Hoffa's guests did not arrive on time, if at all.
Hoffa reportedly communicated with his wife at 2:15, telling her he would wait around only another few minutes. He vanished without a trace after that phone call.
Provenzano was long considered the prime suspect in Hoffa's disappearance. However, Tony Pro had an alibi that prevented him from being tried in connection with Hoffa's disappearance. He reportedly met with a number of Teamster associates in New Jersey on July 30. Giacalone, too, was visibly elsewhere on that date. (Giacalone died in 2001 at the age of 82.)
In the late 1970s, Provenzano was implicated, along with Salvatore Briguglio, in the 1961 murder of a rival within the Teamsters, Anthony Castellito. Briguglio was shot in New York City in 1978 while prosecutors were assembling their case against him.
Provenzano was ultimately convicted of labor racketeering, removed from the New Jersey Teamsters and sentenced to serve 20 years at Lompoc, California. He suffered a heart attack Dec. 12, 1988, at the prison and died while being rushed to a nearby hospital. He was 71 years old.
Jan. 31, 1933, to ?
Provenzano, a native of the central Sicilian town of Corleone, reportedly served as Sicilian Mafia boss of bosses, succeeding Salvatore Riina.
Provenzano has been known as "Benny the Tractor" and as "the Accountant," reflecting different facets of his personality.
Wanted by Italian police on a murder charge, he remained in hiding for more than four decades before his arrest in 2006. He was in his 70s when he was finally put behind bars in a high security prison at Terni, Italy.
Provenzano and his brothers were strong supporters of Giuseppe Esposito during that Sicilian fugitive's brief reign in the New Orleans underworld, 1879-1881.
When Esposito was arrested and deported, Provenzano and his followers blamed the wing of their organization led by Joseph Macheca and Charles Matranga. Macheca had strong contacts in the local government, and the Provenzano faction felt he could have prevented Esposito's capture. A Matranga associate was believed responsible for betraying Esposito's whereabouts to Italian authorities.
Provenzano's group was closer to the traditional Mafia in Palermo, Sicily, and might have been a branch of the conservative Monreale-based Giardinieri. The Matranga clan appeared to draw its support from the rebel Monreale Stuppagghieri.
In 1888, the Matrangas were strong enough to begin challenging Provenzano for dominance in the rackets at New Orleans' docks. Provenzano sought peace in 1889, but the murder of Vincenzo Ultonino sparked a new round of violence.
New Orleans Police Chief David Hennessey, personal friend of the Provenzanos, attempted to mediate the dispute later that year without success.
In 1890, Provenzano forces took the upper hand as they ambushed Matranga leaders at Claiborne and Esplanade Streets, seriously wounding two of them. Charles Matranga's brother Antonio lost part of one leg. The Matrangas, in obvious violation of the underworld code, had the Provenzano gang leadership arrested.
The Provenzanos were found guilty of murder charges in summer of 1890 (at the first of three scheduled trials), but the judge threw out the verdict. Hennessey planned to testify on the Provenzanos behalf at the next trial, but he was killed by Matranga assassins just before it began.
Early in 1891, the Provenzanos were found not guilty of the Matranga gangster murders. But the family's influence in the New Orleans underworld waned as Charles Matranga became the sole surviving underworld superpower.
© 2007 T.Hunt
The American "Mafia"