Thursday, January 10, 2008

Detroit mobster Meli dies at 87

Vincent Angelo Meli, reputed member of the Detroit Mafia, died of bone cancer Jan. 7 at St. John Macomb-Oakland Hospital in Warren, Michigan, according to a story by David Ashenfelter of the Detroit Free Press. Meli (right) was 87 years old.

Meli was born Jan. 2, 1921, in San Cataldo, Sicily. He came to the U.S. when he was 10 years old. He acquired citizenship through his father, Frank, who was a top man in the Mafia of Detroit. Meli's uncle (Frank's younger brother), Angelo Meli, is believed to have served in a leadership role over the Detroit underworld "Partnership" from his home in Grosse Pointe, Michigan, beginning in the Prohibition Era. Other members of the Partnership's command panel were Bill Tocco and Joe Zerilli.

In 1984, Meli was sentenced to a three-year prison term for extortion. He was convicted of using threats to collect payments from truck drivers. Authorities say he was a key figure in the underworld monopolization of the vending machine industry. He and his father owned and operated the Meltone Music Company and White Music Company, suppliers of jukebox machines. He was also associated with the Ace Automatic Company and with the Bel-Aire Lodge in Saginaw, Michigan.

During World War II, Meli served his adopted country as a captain in U.S. Army intelligence. He and his wife Grace Mercurio Meli had six children. He is survived by those six children, 15 grandchildren and four great-grandchildren. He is scheduled for interment today in the Resurrection Cemetery in Clinton Township.

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Writer, editor, researcher, web publisher, specializing in organized crime history. (I am available to assist with your historical/genealogical research, as well as your writing and editing chores. Email me at
I am editor/publisher of crime history journal, Informer; publisher of American Mafia history website; moderator of Mafia-related online forums; author of Wrongly Executed?; coauthor of Deep Water: Joseph P. Macheca and the Birth of the American Mafia and DiCarlo: Buffalo's First Family of Crime; contributor of American Mafia history to Australian-published Mafia: The Necessary Reference to Organized Crime; writer/co-writer of crime history articles for Informer, On the Spot Journal, Cigar City Magazine, Tampa Mafia Magazine.