Emmy Award-winning actor and comedian Ray Romano has been cast as legendary mafia mouthpiece and Detroit labor-union leader Bill Bufalino, Sr. in the new Martin Scorsese 100-million dollar film entitled The Irishman, starring a who’s who of iconic mob-movie actors. The film will detail how historic Teamsters union president and mob associate Jimmy Hoffa was kidnapped and killed as told by a boastful one-time friend and mafia hit man and is slated for theatres and for streaming on Netflix next year.

Romano is currently generating Oscar buzz for his supporting role in The Big Sick. He is best known for headlining the smash-hit CBS television show Everyone Loves Raymond in the late 1990s and first half of the 2000s. Through its nine-season run, the show collected a total of 15 Emmys.

The Irishman, based on the 2003 best-selling book, I Heard You Paint Houses, penned by Charles Brandt and chronicling mob hit man Frank (The Irishman) Sheeran’s relationship with Hoffa and unsubstantiated claims that he pulled the trigger in Hoffa’s still-unsolved murder, will begin shooting at the end of the summer. Hoffa vanished from a Bloomfield Township, Michigan restaurant parking lot on the afternoon of July 30, 1975 on his way to a lunch sit-down with Detroit mob street boss Anthony (Tony Jack) Giacalone and New Jersey Genovese crime family capo and Teamsters power Anthony (Tony Pro) Provenzano. His body has never been found.

Jimmy Hoffa (L) flanked by his attorney Bill Bufalino (R)

The FBI, Michigan State Police and most historians and experts on the subject reject Sheeran’s assertion that he was the triggerman on the Hoffa hit. Sheeran, who was president of a Teamsters branch in Delaware and died in December 2003, worked as muscle for Pennsylvania mob dons, Russell Bufalino and Angelo Bruno.

Sheeran will be played by frequent Scorsese-collaborator Robert De Niro in The Irishman. Fellow Oscar-winner and Scorsese staple Joe Pesci will play Russell Bufalino, while Harvey Keitel will portray Bruno and Al Pacino is set to take on the role of the fiery Hoffa. Keitel starred in Scorsese’ breakout film, 1973’s Mean Streets, however The Irishman will be the first project pairing Academy Award-winning leading man Pacino and living-legend director Scorsese.

Bill Bufalino, a cousin to Russell Bufalino, was Hoffa’s longtime attorney and proxy to the press and represented a number of the suspects in the Hoffa disappearance and homicide probee. The wedding of Bufalino’s daughter on the weekend preceding Hoffa’s murder was attended by mafia luminaries from around the country, including Russell Buffalino, Tony Giacalone and Tony Provenzano, and feverishly documented by the FBI.

Hoffa rode his deeply-entrenched underworld connections to the presidency of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, a colossal labor union representing the interests of truckers and cartage haulers, in 1957. After spending time in prison for bribery, fraud and jury tampering and relinquishing the job, he feuded with his former allies in the mafia over his desire to return to office, resulting in his slaying.

From 1947 through 1967, in addition to being Hoffa’s attorney and building a reputation as a skilled litigator and judicial negotiator, Bill Bufalino held the post of president of Teamsters Local 985, which allegedly controlled the Metro Detroit jukebox delivery business. Bufalino married the niece of Detroit mob underboss Angelo (The Chairman) Meli. According to FBI records, the Detroit mob’s Meli crew ran the region’s jukebox industry and spearheaded the area mafia’s infiltration of the Teamsters.

Meli died of natural causes in 1969. Retiring from practicing law in the early 1980s and moving down to Florida, Bufalino died of cancer in May 1990 at 72 years old. His son, Bill, Jr., followed in his footsteps as a high-profile criminal defense attorney in Detroit.

Bill Bufalino, Jr. will be a small character in the 2018 movie, White Boy Rick, recounting the incredible true story of a former client of his, Richard (White Boy Rick) Wershe, a teenage drug dealer recruited onto a federal drug task force as a 14 year old in 1984 and currently the longest-serving non-violent juvenile offender in the U.S. prison system. Wershe, 48, is going on three decades behind bars for a single cocaine possession charge he took when he was 17 in May 1987 on the eastside of Detroit. Actor James Shinkle plays Bufalino, Jr. in the movie

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