The final on-screen pieces are in place for movieland’s version of Anthony (Tony Pro) Provenzano’s infamous mob crew, a colorful collection of bad guys, bandits and bullies, who worked for the Genovese crime family’s Garden State capo out a Teamsters union hall in Union City, New Jersey in the 1960s and 70s. After Martin Scorsese cast Stephen Graham (Boardwalk Empire) as Tony Pro in The Irishman, the much-anticipated gangster “supergroup” movie about the relationship between hit man Frank (The Irishman) Sheeran and iconic slain labor union boss Jimmy Hoffa, he tapped Louis Cancelmi (also from Boardwalk Empire) as Provenzano’s right-hand man Salvatore (Sally Bugs) Briguglio and Jeremy Luke and Joseph Russo as the Andretta brothers, Tommy and Stevie, respectively, a pair of young, eager pupils mentored by Tony Pro and Sally Bugs. They’re all considered suspects in Hoffa’s kidnapping and killing.

Luke is best known for Don Jon and Sully. Russo played the Joe Pesci character in the Jersey Boys movie, a film Luke also appeared in about the music group The Four Seasons. Pesci, the Oscar-winning actor, was a childhood friend of the band’s and has come out of retirement to be in The Irishman, along with fellow frequent Scorsese collaborators Robert De Niro and Harvey Keitel. The film is currently shooting in New York and New Jersey.

Sally Bugs, Tony Pro and Stevie Andretta are all deceased. Tommy Andretta, 80, resides in Las Vegas, allegedly long retired from his days working for the east coast mob. Briguglio, a suspect in a number of mob executions as well as Hoffa’s, was killed gangland style in New York’s Little Italy in 1978 in the weeks before he and Provenzano were set to stand trial together. The Andrettas were convicted in 1979 for labor racketeering and sent to prison. Stevie Andretta died of cancer in the 2000s.

The Andretta brothers (Tommy on the left, Stevie on the right) in 1975

Hoffa, the stubborn, hard-nosed former president of the Teamsters, vanished from a suburban Detroit restaurant parking lot on the afternoon of July 30, 1975 on his way to a purported peace conference with Provenzano. The two men had once been close friends but they were in a heated feud at the time the 62-year old Hoffa went missing. Aiming at another run for the Teamsters top spot in the 1976 election, Hoffa needed to make amends with Provenzano for the sake of his bid to reclaim the union’s presidency.

Provenzano wielded considerable weight in the Teamsters from his Local 560 in Union City, New Jersey in which Sally Bugs and both the Andrettas were also employed. He died in prison of a heart attack in 1988 at the age of 71, serving time behind bars for a murder and racketeering offenses unrelated to the Hoffa case.

In the years preceding his kidnapping and murder, Hoffa was in a growing beef with the same organized crime figures whose support and accompanying muscle he rode to the presidency in the 1950s. Nobody has ever been charged or even arrested in the Hoffa homicide probe.

According to FBI informants, at least one coming from Tony Pro’s inner circle, Sally Bugs and the Andrettas were part of the hit team sent to Detroit to do away with Hoffa in the summer of 1975. Most informants implicating the Provenzano crew in the famous hit, peg Sally Bugs the triggerman and the Andrettas as the men in charge of the clean-up and disposal process.

“Sally Bugs” Briguglio in 1975

Tony Pro himself was playing cards at his New Jersey union hall headquarters the day Hoffa disappeared. The Andretta brothers allegedly went to visit Tony Pro’s driver Ralph (Little Ralphie) Picardo in a Trenton, New Jersey prison in the days following the Hoffa execution and confessed to him regarding the Provenzano crew’s central role in the kidnaping and murder conspiracy. Picardo eventually entered the Witness Protection Program.

Scorsese has collected a star-studded ensemble for his adaption of Charles Brandt’s 2004 best-selling book, I Heard You Paint Houses, in which Sheeran, on his deathbed, claims to have been the man who shot and killed Hoffa. De Niro will play Sheeran and the equally-legendary Al Pacino is slated to play Hoffa in his first-ever collaboration with Scorsese. Pesci plays rural Pennsylvania mob boss Russell Bufalino and Keitel is playing Philadelphia mafia don Angelo Bruno. Cameras began rolling on the 100-million dollar Netflix production in New York City earlier this month and the movie is expected to have a limited theatre run in 2018.

Leave a Reply