August 7, 2019 — Retired Irish mob boss John Berkery is adamant that the new Martin Scorsese film about slain labor union leader Jimmy Hoffa is a sham. The movie, titled, The Irishman, and starring Robert DeNiro as protagonist Frank (The Irishman) Sheehan, an east coast mob enforcer and Al Pacino as Hoffa, is a fabrication according to the Philadelphia underworld’s top Irish gangster of the 1970s. Don’t believe it, he says.

Berkery, 85, spoke with Slate.com this week for the media outlet’s investigative piece (Lies of The Irishman) poking holes in the $200,000,000 Netflix production set to premiere next month at the New York Film Festival. The movie portrays Sheehan as the man who shot Hoffa to death 44 years ago.

“I’m telling you, he’s full of shit,” Berkery said. “Frank Sheeran never killed a fly. The only thing he ever killed were countless jugs of red wine….”

The 62-year old Hoffa famously vanished on the afternoon of July 30, 1975 from a suburban Detroit restaurant’s parking lot on his way to a mafia sit down with Detroit mob street boss Anthony (Tony Jack) Giacalone and New Jersey mob capo Anthony (Tony Pro) Provenzano to discuss his desire to reclaim the presidency of the Teamsters union. As fiery and strong-willed as he was beloved by the union’s rack and file, Hoffa led the Teamsters to enormous heights during his high-profile reign atop the union from 1957 to 1970. He was declared dead in 1982 but the search for his body and those responsible for his kidnapping and murder remains active to this very day.

Sheeran headed a Teamsters outpost in Delaware and acted as muscle for Pennsylvania mafia dons Russell Bufalino and Angelo Bruno. His work in the strong-arm trade on behalf of Bufalino and Bruno in labor union circles brought him into contact with Hoffa. Berkery had ties to labor union activity as well.

In the final years of his life, Sheeran helped his attorney Charlie Brandt with a book called, I Heard You Paint Houses, which serves as the source material for the upcoming Scorsese film. Published in 2004, three months after Sheeran passed away of natural causes, the book quotes Sheeran as saying he was the trigger man in the Hoffa slaying and the man responsible for the unsolved murder of New York renegade mafia chief Joe (Crazy Joey) Gallo in 1972.

Practically out of nowhere, Brandt’s book, released by tiny Steerforth Press, was a runaway smash success, selling 200,000 copies and landing on the New York Times Best Sellers List. The one-time criminal prosecutor firmly stands behind his subject’s assertions.

The house in the Northwest section of Detroit Sheeran claimed to kill Hoffa inside of was scrubbed for DNA by the FBI and Oakland County Sheriffs Department in 2005 and failed to find a match (they did find blood spatters though). Many former members of law enforcement dismiss Sheeran’s claims despite him been referenced as a possible suspect in the HoffaEx Memo, an internal federal document made up of intelligence regarding the Hoffa hit circulated within the government in 1976 and finally made public in the 2000s.

Berkery was one of the reputed leaders of Philly’s Irish crime syndicate, known locally as the K&A Gang, from the 1960s into the 1980s. He was indicted with Italian mobsters Raymond (Long John) Martorano and Frank (The Suit) Vadino in a 1982 federal drug trafficking case. Following several years on the run from the law, Berkery was found guilty at a 1987 trial.

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