Friday, July 30, 2010

In Search Of... Jimmy Hoffa

Jimmy Hoffa, the former head of the Teamsters union, disappeared from a suburban Detroit restaurant on this date in 1975, where he was scheduled to meet two mob associates. His remains have still never been found. The 1970's TV show In Search of..., which I really liked as a kid, once did an episode examining Hoffa's mysterious disappearance that first aired in November 1980. You can watch a 10 minute segment from this episode by clicking HERE.

As part of a pardon agreement with President Nixon in 1971, Jimmy Hoffa was barred following his release from Federal prison from participating in Teamsters activities until 1980, a ban he was actively seeking to overturn (and undermine) at the time of his disappearance in 1975.  His efforts had met with resistance from many quarters, however, even among his supporters. 

"If Hoffa's disappearance was a mafia hit, what was the motive?" asks narrator Leonard Nimoy near the end of this episode. "[Investigative reporter] Dan Moldea believes an angry Hoffa had begun to squeal about connections between the mafia and the CIA in Cuba... Did Hoffa know the secret behind the 'Crime of the Century'?  Hoffa hated the Kennedys for hounding him during the McClellan Hearings.  But did he know more than the rest of us about the President's murder?" Investigative reporter Dan Moldea himself then asserts in an on-camera interview, "During my investigation the FBI informant also added that Traficante quote 'made it clear' that it was Hoffa who was making the arrangements for the President's assassination."

Ah yes, the Kennedy assassination. Of course.  That explains it: Jimmy Hoffa masterminded the Kennedy assassination and had to be killed (12 years later) to cover it up. What's not revealed in this episode is that Tom Moldea had just written a book detailing these theories titled The Hoffa Wars: Teamsters, Rebels , Politicans and the Mob, which had been published in 1978.  At the time, Moldea was only 28 years old. He's still alive today (he's only 60) and even has his own website HERE.

A significant part of the story was not known in 1980, however.  Just a few years later, wire taps on mobsters in Kansas City proved for the first time what had previously only been suspected: that the Chicago 'Outfit' had used under-the-table loans from Teamsters pension funds to build Las Vegas casinos in the 1960s and 1970s.  The 'skim' from these casinos was believed to be their most lucrative racket at the time. It's now believed that Hoffa, bitter about a lack of support for his bid to retake leadership of the Teamsters, may have been killed because the mob feared that his high profile legal wrangling and electioneering might draw unwanted attention to this link, or, in the unlikely event he succeeded in re-taking the Teamsters' Presidency, that he might ultimately put an end to this arrangement.

On June 16, 2006, the Detroit Free Press published in its entirety the so-called Hoffex Memo, a 56-page report prepared by the FBI in January 1976. While it did not claim to establish conclusively the specifics of his disappearance, the memo memorializes law enforcement's belief that Hoffa was murdered at the behest of organized crime figures who deemed his efforts to regain power within the Teamsters to be a threat to their control of the union's pension fund.

No comments:

Post a Comment