Killing Jimmy Hoffa

Killing Jimmy Hoffa Gangster Report

During the hearings a man named John Cheasty approached RFK and told him that Hoffa attempted to hire Cheasty to get a job on the McClellan committee to act as a mole for Hoffa, and to feed information about Dave Beck’s criminal activities to them. Hoffa’s attempt to “rat” out his Teamster associate didn’t come to light until 1972 when RFK’s chief investigator Walter Sheridan published his memoirs.

RFK decides to use Cheasty to strike a blow against Hoffa. On March 13th ,1957 Cheasty met with Hoffa on the street, ostensibly to hand over information from the McClellan committee. When Hoffa handed him 2k in cash, the FBI moved in and charged him with bribery. Robert Kennedy showed up for Hoffa’s midnight arraignment, and the two squared off while waiting for the judge, challenging each other to a push-up contest.

Hoffa eventually beat the bribery case, much to RFK’s chagrin. Hoffa’s attorney managed to get 8 African Americans on the jury, used 2 black attorneys on the defense team, and had Joe Louis sit in the front row every day. A general PR campaign in the black community to paint Hoffa as friend to African-Americans occurred, despite the Teamsters record to the contrary.

The McClellan committee continued on. Dave Beck invoked the 5th amendment 117 times during his testimony, and was eventually sent to prison for fraud and embezzlement. When Hoffa appears before the McClellan committee, RFK claims that: “Hoffa and his union as 2nd only in power to the US government itself”, and that “…the life of every person in the United States is in the hands of Hoffa and the Teamsters.”

In 1957, while he was being grilled by the McClellan Committee (and invoking his 5th amendment rights over and over again) Jimmy Hoffa was elected president of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters. 1957 was a watershed year for one more reason. In November, over 50 members of America’s Mafia elite were arrested in a raid in Apalachin, New York. Local police had stumbled into a massive enclave of leaders from all over the country, finally proving that there in fact was a national crime syndicate that operated in concert across the country and the world.

Hoffa made it through the McClellan investigation and beat several more criminal cases involving wiretapping and in 1961 was re-elected IBT president. Hoffa’s salary was 75k (550k in today’s dollars), the highest salary of any labor official in the country. In 1962 the Test Fleet trial occurs in Nashville. Hoffa was being tried for fraud and violating Federal labor laws. During the trial, Robert Kennedy’s chief investigator Walter Sheridan begins working with Edward Partin as a mole in Hoffa camp during the Test Fleet trial. Partin was a Louisiana Teamster official had been turned down for help in an internal Teamster dispute by Hoffa sometime before.

Over the years Partin had been charged with crimes ranging from rape to manslaughter, and in 1962 of stealing money from a Teamster local. At the time of the trial he was under indictment for helping kidnap a friend’s children in a divorce dispute. Frank Ragano (Carlos Marcello and Santos Trafficante’s lawyer) made an appearance as part of Hoffa’s defense team. Partin also claims Hoffa talked about assassinating Robert Kennedy. Partin later fought many Federal criminal indictments and eventually served time in prison for obstruction of justice, racketeering, and embezzlement. Partin began feeding insider info about attempts to bribe the jury; a mistrial is declared. Hoffa is then indicted in May of 1963 for jury tampering. While Hoffa is fighting for his freedom in Tennessee, President John F. Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas, and the investigation into his murder would eventually implicate the Mafia as prime suspects.

New Orleans Mob boss Carlos Marcello and Florida boss Santos Trafficante, along with their partner Meyer Lansky, suffered more than anyone when Fidel Castro seized Cuba in 1959. The gambling and drug traffic they had controlled came to an end, so when the C.I.A. sought underworld help in assassinating Castro, the two southern bosses, and close allies of Hoffa, joined Sam Giancana of Chicago and Russell Bufalino of Pennsylvania in agreeing to participate. Some evidence points to Hoffa being involved.

Not long after the CIA’s failed attempts at killing Castro and the Bay of Pigs fiasco President Kennedy was himself killed. During the investigation into JFK’s assassination in 1963, phone records show Teamster enforcer Barney Baker talked to the man that killed Lee Harvey Oswald, Jack Ruby, on multiple occasions just before Kennedy’s murder. Jack Ruby was a Chicago transplant whom incidentally had been an officer in the same union as future Teamster pension fund bag-man Allen Dorfman back in 1939 Chicago.

In 1964, Jimmy Hoffa is convicted of jury tampering. He fights his imprisonment until March 1st, 1967 when the Supreme Court turns down Hoffa’s final appeals. That same day, Puerto Rican IBT Frank Chavez president boards a plane with two other armed men headed for D.C. after expressing intent to kill RFK. It later came out that Hoffa talked Chavez out of killing Hoffa for fear it would turn public opinion against him. Chavez was murdered by unknown assailants in his office not long after that.

Chavez had also been an acquaintance of Lee Harvey Oswald’s assassin Jack Ruby. Hoffa eventually entered Lewisburg Federal prison in 1967, leaving his trusted lieutenant Frank Fitzsimmons to run the IBT in his stead. Fitzsimmons was even more accommodating to organized crime than Hoffa, and installed Allen Dorfman of the Chicago outfit to control the massive Teamsters pension fund, whose money was used to back various Mob backed businesses, most notably many of the early Las Vegas casinos.

The IBT and organized crime ran smoothly under Frank Fitzsimmons, until November of 1968 when Richard Nixon was elected President. The Fitzsimmons led Teamsters had backed Democratic contender Hubert Humphrey and the newly elected Nixon had formed a quid pro quo alliance with Hoffa during his 1960 presidential campaign against John Kennedy, brother of Hoffa’s archenemy.

According to Ed Partin, a former Hoffa aide turned government informant, in September 1960 the crime boss of Louisiana, Carlos Marcello, had contributed $500,000 to the Nixon campaign through Hoffa and his associates. Nixon had been vice-president at the time and several weeks later a land fraud indictment against Hoffa was dropped. So when Nixon finally won the presidency in 1968, it was no surprise to Fitzsimmons and the Teamster leadership that he was considering an early release for Hoffa.

In Lewisburg prison, Hoffa allied himself with heroin trafficker and Bonanno Family underboss Carmine Galante. The Bonanno Family had been recently expelled from the Mafia Commission due to plotting against other families. Fearful of mob reprisals and government prosecution, Boss Joe Bonanno arranged for his own disappearance, which lasted from 1964 to 1966. While underground he made a coalition with two other powerful organized crime figures, Santo Trafficante of Florida and Carlos Marcello of Louisiana. Moving his New York operations to Arizona–where he already had considerable influence—Bonanno, Trafficante, and Marcello formed a triumvirate that rivaled the New York underworld forces.

By making his prison pact with Galante, Jimmy Hoffa became a key figure in this North-South power struggle. As president of the Teamsters he had had a close working relationship with the New York crime families as well as Marcello and Trafficante, but his ties to the latter two mobsters were exceptionally close and personal.

While Hoffa made friends with Galante and cemented his ties with Marcello and Trafficante, New York mob leaders began to realize that Hoffa’s return to power in the union could wreck their business interests in the IBT. If Hoffa began favoring the Bonanno-Marcello-Trafficante alliance in the South there was a very real danger of a breakup of the National Crime Syndicate, with its traditional allotted spheres of interest. In prison both Hoffa and Galante had brief fistfights with Anthony Provenzano, an IBT vice-president (and Hoffa’s former friend) and a captain in the Vito Genovese crime family, which had aligned itself with the New York families opposing Bonanno. Provenzano was upset that Hoffa blocked him from receiving over a million dollars in Teamster pension funds and Hoffa destroyed their friendship when he told Provenzano “it’s guys like you that got me in trouble in the first place.”

Fitzsimmons began to move closer to President Nixon and staved off Hoffa’s attempts to gain an early release at Nixon’s hand. Hoffa’s support within the underworld and among Teamster leaders whom the mob controlled dwindled steadily.

In December of 1971 Nixon finally gave Hoffa his early release from prison, but with the restriction that he could not run for union office until 1980. Hoffa immediately began to machinate against the restrictions and plotting to regain control of the Teamsters. The Teamsters and the mob gave Nixon their full support during his 1972 reelection campaign, and after the Watergate burglars began blackmailing the White House, the mob came through in January 1973 with a million dollars in hush money–delivery arranged by Fitzsimmons and Anthony Provenzano, Hoffa’s former friend turned jail house rival.

While Hoffa was in Lewisburg, his long-time enforcer from the early days Roland McMaster was given a top position in the Detroit Teamsters. Hoffa had become convinced that McMaster was a government informant, and vehemently opposed McMaster’s appointment. McMaster had written Hoffa in prison and warned him to stay out of his business. Hoffa’s other old friend from the early days, Dave Johnson, was able to remove McMaster from Teamster local 299. Acting Teamster president Frank Fitzsimmons then set McMaster up in a special “recruitment” squad that really served to quell wildcat strikes and machinate against Hoffa, and from this moment on Hoffa and Fitzsimmons were enemies. Dave Johnson’s boat was blown up while moored behind his house soon after; Roland McMaster was the prime suspect.

In mid-June, a few days prior to his scheduled appearance before a Senate Select Committee investigating CIA-underworld plots to assassinate Fidel Castro, Chicago mobster Sam Giancana was murdered at his home. Frank Roselli, another high ranking Mobster who had testified in front of the Church committee was also murdered before his appearance in front of another committee on the JFK assassination. According to a former Hoffa aide turned government informant, Roland McMaster was Hoffa’s liaison to Santo Trafficante during the planning of the Castro assassination in the early 1960s.

Russell Bufalino had also been among the mob chieftains whom the CIA solicited for direct action against Castro, and Hoffa’s rival Tony Prozenzano was under the jurisdiction of Russell Bufalino. On July 10th 1975, Frank Fitzsimmons’ son Richard’s car is bombed. No one over charged with the crime, but again McMaster and his underlings are suspected of using the bombing as a ploy to draw negative attention to Hoffa. During these same summer weeks, a government witness supposedly saw McMaster meeting with Genovese captain Tony Pro in Detroit, just 3 weeks before Hoffa’s disappearance.

FBI surveillance records from this time indicate that Tony and Vito Giacalone, old friends of Hoffa and high ranking members of the Detroit LCN, were pressing Hoffa to meet with Tony Provenzano to resolve their dispute, and hopefully to convince Hoffa to drop his quest to regain the Teamster presidency. Hoffa finally relented and agreed to a July 30th meeting.

For more….watch the documentary!

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  1. Debra Kelley

    I just watched the documentary over the weekend and loved it! Well, most of it. The historical background on Hoffa was excellent. I was feeling rather lost when I heard all the panelists theories on how and where Hoffa was killed. Too many implausible theories, in my opinion. I’m curious why you didn’t feature Jeff Hansen who wrote: “Digging for the Truth: The Final Resting Place of Jimmy Hoffa”? His book is very good and gives a simple, yet highly probable, explanation of what happened to Hoffa. And Charles Brandt wasn’t mentioned, either. I felt many, if not most, of the murder theories were way off the mark. I’m no expert but a lot of what the analysts suggested made absolutely no sense. Thanks for an interesting documentary, though. I’ll watch it again soon!

    • Well, the people we interviewed are the primary experts, they worked the case as it happened…and we did settle on what we are sure is the truth- he was killed at Licata’s house and his body destroyed.

      • Debra Kelley

        Thank you for your response! I’m curious why this theory was never mentioned before. At least not that I ever read in the HOFFEX files or anywhere else. Also, did anyone try to interview Chuckie O’Brien and/or Stephen Andretta? I really did enjoy your documentary even if I still have many questions. It was interesting and I’ll definitely watch it again. Thanks again.

  2. Debra Kelley

    I meant Thomas Andretta.