Jimmy Hoffa

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Jimmy Hoffa

Born February 14, 1913(1913-02-14)
Brazil, Indiana, U.S.

disappeared July 30, 1975 (aged 62)

Last seen in Bloomfield Township, MI
Occupation Labor union leader
Spouse(s) Josephine (Poszywak) Hoffa
Children James P. Hoffa, Barbara Ann Crancer

James Riddle Hoffa (born February 14, 1913 – disappeared July 30, 1975, legally dead since 1982[1]) was an American trade unionist.

Hoffa served as the General President of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters from 1958–1971 despite being incarcerated during the latter four years of his tenure. Hoffa, who had been convicted of jury tampering and attempted bribery in 1964, was imprisoned in 1967 after exhausting the appeal process. However he did not officially resign the Teamsters' presidency until 1971. This was part of a pardon agreement with U.S. president Richard Nixon, in order to facilitate Hoffa's release from prison. In 1975, Hoffa mysteriously disappeared somewhere near a restaurant in Bloomfield Township, Michigan and is presumed dead.

His son James P. Hoffa is the current president of the Teamsters.


[edit] Biography

[edit] Early life

Hoffa was born in Brazil, Indiana, on February 14, 1913. His paternal ancestors were "Pennsylvania Dutch" and Irish-American. Hoffa's father, John Cleveland Hoffa, a coal driller, died of lung disease in 1920.[citation needed]

[edit] Union activities

The Teamsters organized truckers and firefighters first throughout the Midwest, and then nationwide. It skillfully used "quickie strikes", secondary boycotts, and other means of leveraging union strength at one company to organize workers and win contract demands at others.[citation needed]

Hoffa took over the presidency of the Teamsters in 1957, when his predecessor, Dave Beck, was convicted on bribery charges and imprisoned.[citation needed] Hoffa worked to expand the union, and, in 1964, succeeded in bringing virtually all over-the-road truck drivers in North America under a single national master-freight agreement.[citation needed] Hoffa then tried to bring the airlines and other transport employees into the union.[citation needed]

Both President John F. Kennedy and his successor, Lyndon B. Johnson, put pressure on Hoffa through the president's brother Robert F. Kennedy (then Attorney General), in an attempt to investigate his activities and disrupt his ever-growing union.[citation needed] Having expelled the Teamsters in the 1950s, the AFL-CIO aided the Democrats in their investigations.[citation needed]

Hoffa's son, James P. Hoffa, is the Teamsters' current leader. His daughter, Barbara Ann Crancer, currently serves as an associate circuit court judge in St. Louis, Missouri.[citation needed]

[edit] Conviction and disappearance

In 1964, Hoffa was convicted of attempted bribery of a grand juror and jailed for 15 years. On December 23, 1971, however, he was released when President Richard Nixon commuted his sentence to time served on the condition he not participate in union activities for 10 years. Hoffa was planning to sue to invalidate that restriction in order to reassert his power over the Teamsters when he disappeared at, or sometime after, 2:45 pm on July 30, 1975 from the parking lot of the Machus Red Fox Restaurant in Bloomfield Township, Oakland County, Michigan, a suburb of Detroit. He had been due to meet two Mafia leaders, Anthony "Tony Jack" Giacalone from Detroit and Anthony "Tony Pro" Provenzano from Union City, New Jersey and New York City.[2]

[edit] Investigations into his disappearance

DNA evidence examined in 2001 placed Hoffa in the car of long-time Teamster associate Charles "Chuckie" O'Brien (who has been described as Hoffa's "foster son"),[3] despite O'Brien's claims that Hoffa had never been in the car. Police interviews later that year failed to produce any indictments.

[edit] Frank Sheeran

In July 2003, convicted killer Richard Powell told authorities that a briefcase containing a syringe used to subdue Hoffa was buried at a house in Hampton Township, Michigan. The FBI searched the backyard of a home formerly frequented by Frank Sheeran, Second World War veteran, Mafia hitman, truck driver, Teamsters official and close friend of Hoffa. Nothing significant was found.[4][5]

In 2004, Charles Brandt, a former prosecutor and Chief Deputy Attorney General of Delaware, published the book I Heard You Paint Houses. The title is based on a euphemistic exchange apparently used by hitmen and their would-be employers ("I heard you paint houses." "Yes, and I do my own carpentry, too.") House-painting alludes to the incidental-to-homicide emplacement of blood spatter on walls, and "doing my own carpentry," to the task of disposing of the body. Brandt recounted a series of confessions by Sheeran regarding Hoffa's murder, and claimed that Sheeran had begun contacting him because he wished to assuage feelings of guilt. Over the course of several years, he spoke many times by phone to Brandt (which Brandt recorded) during which he acknowledged his role as Hoffa's killer, acting on orders from the Mafia. He claimed to have used his friendship with Hoffa to lure him to a bogus meeting in Bloomfield Hills and drive him to a house in northwestern Detroit, where he shot him twice before fleeing and leaving Hoffa's body behind. An updated version of Brandt's book claims that Hoffa's body was cremated within an hour of Sheeran's departure.

In 2004, authorities in Detroit extracted floorboards from the northwest Detroit home where Sheeran said he had shot Hoffa. However, by February 2005, the Bloomfield Township Police said the FBI Crime Lab reported that, while there had been male, human blood on the floorboards, the blood did not match Hoffa's. It was later revealed that the DNA had been destroyed when the wrong kind of Luminol was used to find the blood remnants.[6]

[edit] Events since 2006

On May 17, 2006, acting on a tip, the FBI searched a farm in Milford Township, Michigan for Hoffa's remains. Nothing was found.[citation needed]

On June 16, 2006, the Detroit Free Press published in its entirety the so-called Hoffex Memo, a 56-page report the FBI prepared for a January 1976 briefing on the case at FBI Headquarters in Washington, D.C. The FBI has called the report the definitive account of what agents believe happened to Hoffa.[7]

In November 2006 KLAS-TV Channel 8 Las Vegas interviewed author Charles Brandt about Hoffa's murder and disappearance. Brandt claims that Hoffa's body was taken from the murder scene and possibly driven two minutes away to the Grand Lawn Cemetery where he was cremated.[8]

[edit] Further reading

  • The Fall and Rise of Jimmy Hoffa is an account of Hoffa's trials in Tennessee. Author Walter Sheridan was a lawyer working for Robert Kennedy.
  • The Hoffa Wars by investigative reporter Dan Moldea, which details Hoffa's rise to power.
  • Contract Killer by William Hoffman and Lake Headley, which attempts to examine Hoffa's murder in great detail.
  • Hoffa! Ten Angels Swearing. An Authorized Biography by Jim Clay was published in 1965 and defends Hoffa's position in his own words.

[edit] Notes and references

[edit] Bibliography

  • Arthur A. Sloane, Hoffa, MIT Press, 1992.
  • Charles Brandt, I Heard You Paint Houses: Frank "the Irishman" Sheeran and the inside story of the Mafia, the Teamsters, and the last ride of Jimmy Hoffa, Steerforth Press, Hanover (NH, USA) 2004 (ISBN 1-58642-077-1).
  • Dan E. Moldea, The Hoffa Wars, Charter Books, New York: 1978 (ISBN 0-441-34010-5).

[edit] See also

Preceded by
Dave Beck
President of Teamsters Union (IBT)
Succeeded by
Frank Fitzsimmons
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