I-Team Report: 'Little Tony's' Last Ride

August 24, 2011 (CHICAGO)

Now the FBI in Chicago is floating a new theory about Zizzo's disappearance

At only 5 feet 3 inches tall, "Little Tony" was the perfect name for Anthony Zizzo. But the 200 pounds he carried on that frame didn't allow for many speedy exits. So five years after Little Tony's last ride from home, mobologists have presumed that he fell victim to a mob hit and was disposed of. But now federal agents wonder whether Zizzo might have disappeared on purpose.

"As we've seen recently, it's not uncommon for people who are under investigation, who think they might be under investigation or about to face criminal charges to flee. We saw two defendants in the Family Secrets case, Joey Lombardo and Frank Schweigh disappear in advance of their being charged. And then more recently you had Whitey Bulger out of Boston who was on the run for almost 15 years. Whether that's true or not in this case I don't know, but we have to consider all possibilities," said Special Agent Ross Rice, FBI Chicago.

So for the first time in the case of Anthony Zizzo, the FBI says it will offer a reward of $10,000 for information leading to Little Tony's whereabouts.

It was August 31, 2006 when Zizzo left his townhouse in Westmont, saying goodbye to his wife Susan and telling her he had a business meeting.

His credit card shows the 71-year-old convicted mobster stopped for gasoline and then came to a Melrose Park restaurant, where federal investigators now reveal Zizzo was last seen alive.

"There were no signs of foul play...a couple of employees at the restaurant said he arrived but he never made it into the restaurant," said Zizzo.

After Zizzo's wife filed a missing person's report with Westmont police, the mobster's car was found parked in the restaurant lot. He vanished just months before the Operation Family Secrets mob trial started. Zizzo, who conspicuously wasn't charged in that case, may have left town, fearing that Outfit bosses thought he was a snitch.

Mob expert and Loyola University professor Arthur Lurigio says it is more likely that a hit sqaud got to Zizzo first.

"His disappearance is likely the result of his being killed and his body being disposed of in a manner that would make it nearly impossible to locate," said Lurigio.

And there is this: Zizzo had crossed swords with powerful mob capo Michael "The Large Guy" Sarno. An Outfit informant told federal authorities that the hostilities with Sarno peaked just before Zizzo went missing.

Sarno, to be sentenced next month in an unrelated mob bombing case, has denied involvement in Zizzo's disappearance.

"That's a plausible scenario only because there's much precedent in the history of organized crime of people cutting into the territory of others, encroaching on them and then being whacked as a consequence," said Lurigio.

"Whether he's gone on the lam so to speak and he's hiding out or whether he's met foul play, someone knows what happened to him," said Rice.

There have been more than 1100 gangland killings in Chicago since the Outfit started. Most mob victims are eventually found. Even if the FBI figures out this case, Zizzo's wife will never know what happened to her husband. Nearly five years after reporting him missing, Susan Zizzo herself died last month.

Copyright © 2024 WLS-TV. All Rights Reserved.