Hoffa Murder Weapon Buried In MI Backyard Says Sources, New Angle In Investigation Emerges On 47th Anniversary Of Iconic Mob Hit

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August 1, 2022 — According to sources linked to the Detroit mob, the gun used to kill Teamsters boss Jimmy Hoffa lies in a “murder-weapon” graveyard located in the backyard of a private residence in Franklin, Michigan. The house at 31079 McKinney once belonged to longtime Detroit mob associate Leonard (Little Lenny) Schultz and is a three-mile car ride from the shopping plaza parking lot Hoffa was last seen alive in on the afternoon of July 30, 1975. 

One source claims Hoffa was murdered at Schultz’s then residence. The FBI has long speculated the Tocco-Zerilli crime family in the Motor City used Schultz’s Franklin home for another gangland hit a year before Hoffa was slain; the March 1974 murder of Metro Detroit businessman Harvey Leach. Three of the top suspects in the Hoffa case were also the three main suspects in the still-unsolved Leach murder. An informant once told the FBI that the same gun used to kill Hoffa was used to kill Leach.

“There’s a patch of concrete……It’s in Lenny’s old backyard, it’s out of place and underneath it is a murder-weapon graveyard,” one source said. “They (the Detroit mob) used Lenny’s property to bury guns, knives, garrots, all kind of weapons used on hits. The whole Hoffa murder kit so to speak was ditched in Lenny’s backyard and paved over.”  

Little Lenny Schultz, a multi-time convicted felon and well-known labor racketeer, died in retirement in Florida in 2013 at age 96. He moved from the McKinney residence in the years after Hoffa disappeared and his name had faded from the headlines.

The “out of place” patch of concrete was confirmed to still be at the property in an interview with the property’s current owner.

“Lenny is kind of a lost player in the narrative surrounding the Hoffa case,” said retired U.S. Attorney Keith Corbett, the lead attorney in the federal Hoffa case task-force for two decades. “There was quite a bit of ruckus in the media with the big-name Italian mafia bosses and skippers hovering around this case and then you have this tiny Jewish labor fixer, jack of all trades type in the Detroit organized crime group. People forget about him. We looked at him as someone who knew more than most and that was significant especially considering he wasn’t Italian.” 

Drenched in mystery and mythology, the Hoffa murder is arguably the most notorious unsolved crime in American history. The case investigation is as active as ever (see the recent dig for Hoffa’s remains in Jersey City, New Jersey) and has become a staple of popular-culture curiosity in the almost half-century since the fiery Hoffa went missing. This weekend marks the 47th anniversary of Hoffa’s murder.

The diminutive and always dapper Schultz had ties to the old Purple Gang Jewish mob and was a valued confidant of Detroit mafia street boss Anthony (Tony Jack) Giacalone. Hoffa was on his way to meet Schultz, Giacalone and New Jersey mob captain Anthony (Tony Pro) Provenzano for a late lunch to discuss labor union business at the Machus Red Fox Restaurant in Bloomfield Township, Michigan in the Bloomfield Plaza strip mall when he disappeared in the summer of 1975. Hoffa’s datebook denoted a lunch meeting with “Tony G, Tony P & Lenny S,” per investigation files.

Hoffa rode to power in the Teamsters union on the shoulders of the Detroit mob, taking the presidency in 1957 and lifting the union to mammoth levels of influence throughout the world. His contact in the local mafia was Giacalone and Schultz was the go-between for the pair, according to FBI records. 

Jailed in 1967 for bribery, fraud and jury tampering, Hoffa gave up his president’s post in 1970 in order to secure a sentence commutation by the Nixon White House. When he was released in late 1971, Hoffa wanted to reclaim the union’s No. 1 spot, however, his one-time allies in the mafia didn’t want him back in the fold. The mob preferred his replacement and former No. 2 man Frank Fitzsimmons, a pushover of a labor-union politician from Hoffa’s old powerbase on Motown’s Southwest side, who was considerably easier to puppet than the strong-minded and ferocious Hoffa. 

In the months preceding Hoffa’s disappearance, Hoffa was publicly threatening mobsters in Detroit, New York and Chicago and openly declaring his intention of running in the 1976 Teamsters Presidential Election. Just three weeks prior to Hoffa’s kidnapping, Fitzsimmons and his son survived a car-bombing attack outside a Southwest Detroit bar. Police suspected Hoffa or Hoffa loyalists for the bombing.   

Meanwhile, Giacalone and Schultz were sending messages to Hoffa to “stand down,” per FBI informants. Hard-headed Hoffa refused to yield.

Upon the murder contract being issued on Hoffa’s life by mob bosses in the Midwest and East Coast, Giacalone was assigned the responsibility of coordinating the details of the hit, according to sources and investigative reports. It was ultimately Giacalone, his younger brother Vito (Billy Jack) Giacalone — a formidable mob capo himself — and Lenny Schultz, who set up Hoffa to be killed, sources and investigative files from the case reveal. The Giacalones and Schultz brokered a purported sit-down between Hoffa and Tony Provenzano, a New Jersey mobster and labor-union leader, for the day Hoffa disappeared. 

Hoffa needed to settle a personal dispute with Provenzano in order to gain his support for his bid to take back power in the Teamsters. Provenzano, related to Tony Giacalone by marriage, was supposed to be in Detroit that week for a wedding. 

Tony and Billy Giacalone visited Hoffa at his summer cottage on Lake Orion on the evening of July 26, 1975 to finalize plans for Hoffa’s July 30 sit down with Tony Provenzano at the Machus Red Fox Restaurant, according to FBI records. Witnesses saw Hoffa get into a new-model maroon-colored Mercury Marquis owned by Tony Giacalone’s son, Joey, in the Red Fox parking lot at around 2:45 p.m. on July 30, 1975 and was never seen again. 

The Mercury Marquis was seized by the FBI in the weeks after Hoffa went missing and is the only piece of physical evidence ever recovered in the investigation. Joey Giacalone did not have possession of the vehicle the day Hoffa was killed and wasn’t considered a suspect in the case. Hoffa’s DNA was found in the car’s backseat and trunk.

Schultz and Tony Giacaone gave each other airtight alibis for the afternoon Hoffa vanished. They both spent most of July 30 at the Southfield Athletic Club, a fitness center and restaurant owned by Little Lenny and his two sons that served as Tony Giacalone’s day-to-day headquarters in the 1970s. Billy Giacalone, on the other hand, was unaccounted for by his FBI and Michigan State Police surveillance units that day and investigators theorize he was the “captain of the hit squad” and present in the car when Hoffa was kidnapped and minutes later when he was murdered, per sources and FBI records. Both Giacalone brothers were considered suspects in dozens of gangland homicides before and after the Hoffa slaying.

The Giacalones and Schultz were called in front of the federal grand jury probing the Hoffa murder and all pleaded the Fifth to most of the questions asked. Schultz sued Time Magazine for libel in its coverage of him in the Hoffa saga and lost.

The three sources providing information for this article are speaking on the condition of anonymity. They were all connected to the Capital Street Social Club crew, a group of Jewish and Middle-Eastern mob bookies, gamblers, hustlers and thieves based out of Oak Park, Michigan in the 1970s and 1980s. The Capital Street Social Club crew maintained close relations to Giacalone and Schultz and most were members of the Southfield Athletic Club in nearby Southfield, Michigan. 

“Lenny he did a lot for the Giacalones, he took a lot of heat for them but also put a great deal of money in their pockets,” said one source. “The guy knew how to grease wheels, smooth out rough edges for people for the right price. Anything you needed, he could get you. Remember the Cabbage Patch Kid craze in the 1980s? Lenny had the black market cornered. Any of those things fell off a truck, they ended up in warehouse he owned. He had real ones, fake ones. He made a fortune. And the money was flowing up. Tony and Billy were getting a taste. The Giacalones used Lenny as a tool in their arsenal. He had his hand in a lot of different worlds and

they used that to their advantage.”  

Schultz was groomed in the ways of the underworld as a teenager in the 1930s working as a driver and gofer for Purple Gang lieutenant Abe (Abie the Agent) Zussman, according to his Detroit Police Department case jacket. As Prohibition came to an end, the “Purples” merged with Detroit’s Italian mafia and through Zussman and another Purple Ganger named Joseph (Monkey Joe) Holtzman, Schultz met many of the city’s biggest mob shot callers, earning their respect for his resourcefulness.

“The Italians thought Lenny was the golden Jew,” laughed one source of Jewish descent. “He knew how to make money, he knew how to keep his head low and follow instructions. That made him untouchable.” 

Monkey Joe Holtzman brought Schultz into the labor-union consulting business in the 1950s and got him in good with Hoffa, per Schultz’s DPD jacket. Tony Giacalone, at that time, a fast-rising mob figure in the Tocco-Zerilli crime family, became the Detroit mob’s liaison to the labor unions and the Jewish underworld simultaneously, putting him in close proximity to Schultz. The pair became particularly close, with Giacalone and his brother utilizing Schultz to troubleshoot in the Teamsters and identify Jewish businessmen and bookmakers to extort, according to federal records and informant debriefing statements.

One of these men was aspiring Metro Detroit furniture-store mogul Harvey Leach. On March 16, 1974, Leach, 34, was found shot and stabbed to death in the trunk of his Lincoln Continental in a Southfield office complex parking lot hours before he was supposed to get married.

“Tony and Billy liked Lenny because of his connections, saw him as a big asset” retired FBI agent Mike Carone said. “Lenny teed guys up for them to shakedown. Jewish guys they wouldn’t have had access to if it wasn’t for him. They could extort them, use them as fronts, launder money through them. These were channels and circles the Giacalones would not be able to loop into if not for someone like Lenny Schultz. The other side of that is Lenny can use Tony and Billy’s name in what he’s doing. He’s got muscle behind his name by way of them. He made plenty of union problem go away for people when the fee was right. There was definitely a two-way street there. But Tony and Billy were always going to have the upper hand.”  

Carone chased Schultz and the Giacalone brothers for three decades as a member of the Detroit FBI’s organized crime unit. 

“Look at Harvey Leach, he got into bed with the Giacalones from an introduction through Lenny and the ending wasn’t pretty,” Carone said. “It’s like the old saying, be careful what you wish for. Harvey Leach wanted their money to grow his business and it cost him his life.”

Per grand jury testimony, Leach secured a loan from the Giacalone brothers brokered by Schultz to expand his trendy Joshua Doore furniture chain and the Giacalones pushed Leach out of the business after stealing from it and laundering money through Leach investments out of Canada. Leach was last seen alive leaving to meet Schultz and Giacalone at Schultz’s home at 31079 McKinney in Franklin. Investigators believe Leach was murdered at Schultz’s residence, but no charges were ever brought in the case. 

“The reason Lenny was trusted more than the average (non-Italian mob) associate, was because he showed he could be,” Carone said.

Lenny Schultz was busted for cocaine trafficking in the 1980s.

“I put a photo of Jimmy Hoffa in front of him and said, ‘Lenny, all your troubles will melt away right now if you tell us what happened to this man’ and he talked around the issue and him cluing us in on anything important never materialized,” Corbett recalled of Schultz’s 1985 arrest.

Ten years prior, in February 1975, Schultz’s Franklin home was burglarized. Schultz accused the FBI of staging the break-in to illegally search for evidence linking him and the property to the Leach murder.

“They (the Giacalones) hit Leach and Hoffa and Lenny Schultz’s house,” proclaimed one source. “Hoffa was garroted. The Hoffa and Leach murder weapons are in Lenny’s old yard. Lenny was pouring fresh concrete every time they dumped a weapon down there.”

Carone dismisses the notion they killed Hoffa or buried his murder weapon on Schultz’s old property.

“Hoffa wouldn’t have felt comfortable going to Lenny’s house, especially knowing about what everyone thinks happened to Leach there,” he said. “The gun was probably incinerated with Hoffa’s body. The idea being, no body, no gun, no crime.”

Carone, Corbett and several other federal law enforcement officials familiar with the intimate details of the Hoffa investigation believe Hoffa was most likely murdered at Detroit mob soldier Carlo Licata’s house in Bloomfield Township, a two-mile car drive in the opposite direction of Schultz’s former home and his body incinerated at Central Sanitation in Hamtramck. Central Sanitation, owned by a trio of Detroit mob capos, burned down in 1976. Licata died under suspicious circumstances at his Bloomfield Township residence on the six-year anniversary of Hoffa’s disappearance on July 30, 1981 — shot in the chest, no fingerprints on the gun.

“Licata’s house was more secluded, Hoffa had been there to meet Tony before, he wouldn’t have thought anything was out of the ordinary until it was too late,” Carone said. 

Tony and Billy Giacalone passed away peacefully of natural causes and as free men, in 2001 and 2012, respectively. Tony Giacalone was under indictment for racketeering at the time of his death of kidney failure.

Tony Provenzano dropped dead of a massive heart attack in prison in 1988 serving a life sentence for an unrelated union-connected murder. He was playing cards at his union hall in New Jersey the entire afternoon of the day Hoffa was knocked off in Michigan. Provenzano and the Giacalones were related via marriage.

Digs for Hoffa’s body continue to be a hot topic in the news. Last month, the FBI excavated land underneath the Pulaski Skyway in Jersey City, New Jersey in search of Hoffa’s remains and once again failed to hit paydirt. The piece of land was once known as the PJP Landfill and belonged to Genovese crime family loan shark Phil (Brother) Moscato, a lieutenant of Tony Provenzano’s. Moscato confessed to having Hoffa buried in his landfill to author and Hoffa case expert Dan Moldea in a series of interviews before his passing in 2014.