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New York Organized Crime Figure Anthony Provenzano Dies

December 12, 1988 GMT

LOMPOC, Calif. (AP) _ Jailed mob chieftain Anthony ″Tony Pro″ Provenzano, the prime suspect in the disappearance of ex-Teamsters boss Jimmy Hoffa, died today of a heart attack. He was 71.

Provenzano died at 7:56 a.m. at Lompoc District Hospital, close to the federal prison where he was serving a 20-year term for racketeering, said Chuck LaRoe, spokesman for the maximum-security prison 140 miles northwest of Los Angeles.

Provenzano, who had been confined to the hospital for treatment of congestive heart failure, died of a heart attack, the spokesman said.

He had been serving a 20-year, 11-month and 29-day sentence on two racketeering conspiracy offenses, LaRoe said.

In July 1975, Hoffa disappeared while on his way to a Detroit meeting with Provenzano, who was then president of Teamsters Local 560 in New Jersey. Hoffa is presumed dead, but his body was never found.

According to an FBI memo, Hoffa and Provenzano had feuded when both were in federal prison. The FBI speculated that Hoffa had hoped to make peace with Provenzano and forge an alliance that would aid his drive to regain power.

New Jersey State Police listed Provenzano as a soldier in the Genovese family who was a close associate of Hoffa in the early 1960s. The report also said Provenzano and former Genovese family members were ″primary suspects in Hoffa’s disappearance.″

The Mafia Encyclopedia, written by Carl Sifakis, said Provenzano was responsible for Hoffa’s disappearance.

″According to the FBI reconstruction of the Hoffa murder, Tony Pro called the so-called peace parlay with Hoffa and then ordered him killed. Provenzano denied even being in Detroit at the time, and seemed to go out of his way to seal an airtight alibi,″ the encyclopedia said.

One of Provenzano’s Teamster rivals, Local 560 dissident Anthony Casellito, was garroted with piano wire at the gangster’s direction 23 years ago. The three Provenzano brothers Anthony, Salvatore and Nunzio, all have been imprisoned for a variety of crimes, including racketeering and extortion.

The union was dominated by the Provenzano group, an alleged faction of the Genovese organized crime group.

Provenzano was first sentenced to four years in prison by a federal judge in New York City in July 1978. In July 1979, he was sentenced by a federal judge in New Jersey to another 20 years.

″He had a tentative release date of Aug. 13, 1992, and had waived parole consideration,″ said LaRoe.

A resident of Hallendale, Fla., Provenzano began his sentence at Lompoc on Nov. 18, 1980. Due to his age and poor health, he hadn’t participated in a prison work assignment for the past two years, LaRoe said.