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Anthony Provenzano also known as Tony Pro (May 7, 1917 - December 12, 1988) was a Caporegime (or captain) in the Genovese crime family of New York City. Born May 7, 1917, in the Lower East Side of Manhattan to Sicilian immigrants, Rosario and Josephine Provenzano. Provenzano was known for his connections to Teamsters Union leader Jimmy Hoffa and President Richard Nixon due to Provenzano's position as an International Brotherhood of Teamsters vice president for Teamsters Local 560 in Union City, New Jersey.
Hoffa and Provenzano
With Hoffa's blessing, Provenzano used his position as Teamsters vice president to take union funds for his personal use. To solidify his support among the criminal elite, Hoffa had encouraged the Mafia's heavy-hitters who were involved with the union to use their locals as personal accounts. Hoffa and Provenzano were eventually jailed for their activities; their sentences at the federal prison in Lewisburg overlapped. The two initially were close allies, with the Capo exercising his rank at Lewisburg and 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 enemies 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 provision 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 of 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.
In 1961, Local 560 Secretary-Treasurer Anthony Castellito travelled to Upstate New York to meet with 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 was never found and reportedly was put through a tree shredder. Provenzano was in Florida at the time of Castellito’s disappearance. On his return to New Jersey, Provenzano appointed Briguglio to fill Castellito's position at Local 560, despite Briguglio's lack of official connection to the Teamster Union. Other sources cite that testimony in the 1961 murder trial, stated Mr. Provenzano had paid mob enforcer Harold Konigsberg $15,000 to kill Castellito. Konigsberg supposedly carried out the murder with three others at his summer home in Kerhonkson, New York.
Provenzano was oddly photographed golfing with Nixon within a year after Hoffa's disappearance, even while being trumpeted by the media as Hoffa's nemesis who had done Hoffa in. Eventually, Local 560 was put under government oversight, which financially constrained Provenzano’s illegal operations. In 1978, Provenzano was convicted in the Castellito murder and sent to prison.
Briguglio was identified as a prime suspect in Hoffa's disappearance in a 1985 Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) memo. Also named were “Tony Pro” Provenzano, Frank "The Irishman" Sheeran, Detroit Mafia capo Anthony "Tony Jack" 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 hit men.
On December 12, 1988, Provenzano died of a heart attack in prison at age 71.
Tony Pro's grandnephew Danny Provenzano became a made man, movie director, and a producer after building a successful printing company in New Jersey. He served a portion of a ten-year sentence for racketeering. Danny appeared in the second season of Bravo's The Real Housewives of New Jersey as a friend to cast member Danielle Staub.
- "Teamsters' Watergate Connection". Time magazine. 1977-08-08.
- LESSONS LEARNED FROM THE TEAMSTERS LOCAL 560 TRUSTEESHIP
- McFadden, Robert D. (December 13, 1988). "Anthony Provanzano, 71, Ex-Teamster Chief, Dies". The New York Times.
- The People of the State of New York, Respondent, v Anthony Provenzano, and Harold Konigsberg
- United States of America v. Anthony Provenzano and Anthony Bentro
- Who's Who ? - Anthony Provenzano at Thomas Hunt's The American "Mafia"