Anthony "Tony Pro" Provenzano (May 24, 1917 - December 12, 1988) was a capo (or captain) in the Genovese crime family, one of the five "families" that made up La Cosa Nostra or Mafia in the New York City area.
Provenzano was known for his connections to Jimmy Hoffa (and his subsequent disappearance) and Richard Nixon due to his position as an International Brotherhood of Teamsters vice president who controlled Teamsters Local 560 in Union City, New Jersey.
Provenzano and Jimmy Hoffa Edit
With Hoffa's blessing, Provenzano used his position as Teamsters vice president to siphon off union funds for his personal use. To solidify his support among the criminal elite, Hoffa had encouraged the Mafia's heavy-hitters that were involved with the union to use their locals as their own personal piggy banks. Hoffa and Provenzano eventually were jailed for their activities, and their sentences at the federal prison in Lewisburg overlapped. The two initially were close allies, with the Capo exercising his rank at Lewisburg, demanding the loyalty of prisoners, which made him the major power within the prison. Provenzano provided Hoffa with protection, but their relationship soured after Hoffa was unable to secure a Teamsters loan for a restaurant he wanted to open. The two became mortal enemies, allegedly after Hoffa insulted Provenzano, telling him “It’s because of people like you that I got into trouble in the first place.”
(After their sentences were over, the two allegedly had a violent confrontation during a chance meeting at an airport. In the book Desperate Bargain: Why Jimmy Hoffa Had to Die, Lester Velie wrote that “Hoffa and Provenzano went at it with their fists, and Hoffa broke a bottle over Provenzano’s head.” Provenzano vowed he would retaliate against Hoffa’s grandchildren, saying “I’ll tear your heart out!”)
Hoffa had been pardoned from prison by President Richard Nixon in 1971, allegedly after the payment of a large bribe from the Mafia, with the proviso that he could not engage in union activity. Provenzano was forbidden to engage in union activity for five years as part of his parole, though he remained a power inside the union. Hoffa opposed Provenzano’s desire to assume his old post at Local 560 after his five-year exclusionary period was up, while "Tony Pro" was adamantly against Hoffa's intent to be reelected president the Teamsters. In the contest of wills, while Hoffa had the hearts of many of the union's rank and file members, Provenzano had the power of a Mafia capo.
The year after Hoffa's pardon, foreshadowing the Hoffa disappearance three years later, Local 560 Secretary-Treasurer Anthony Castellito went to a meeting in upstate New York where he was met by a Salvatore “Sally Bugs” Briguglio, a mob-connected loan shark. According to federal government reports, Briguglio allegedly murdered Castellito, taking the body back to New Jersey for disposal. Castellito’s body has never been found. Provenzano was in Florida at the time of Castellito’s disappearance, but when he returned to New Jersey, Briguglio was appointed secretary-treasurer of Local 560, despite having had no official connection to the union.
Salvatore Briguglio was identified as a prime suspect in Hoffa's disappearance in a 1985 FBI memo. Also named were “Tony Pro” Provenzano, Mafia capo Anthony Giacalone, Russell Bufalino (the boss of Northeastern Pennsylvania), Hoffa's adopted "son" Chuckie O’Brien, Briguglio’s brother Gabriel, and Stephen and Thomas Andretta, two brothers who were mob hitmen.
Interestingly, "Tony Pro" Provenzano was photographed golfing with former President Richard Nixon within a year after Hoffa's disappearance, when Provenzano was being trumpeted by the media as Hoffa's nemesis who had done him in. Local 560 eventually was put under government oversight, which financially constrained Provenzano’s illegal operations. In 1978, he was convicted of the 1961 murder of Anthony Castellito (another "Tony Pro" nemesis whose body was never found; allegedly, Castellito’s body was obliterated by a tree shredder) and imprisoned. He suffered a heart attack and died Dec. 12, 1988. He was 71 years old. Tony Pro's grand-nephew Danny Provenzano became a made-man and movie director and producer after building a successful printing company in New Jersey, he is currently serving a 10 year sentence for racketeering.