Jimmy Hoffa was a very powerful leader and president of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, Chauffeurs, Warehouseman, and Helpers of America, whose mysterious disappearance, suspected of being Mafia connected, on July 30, 1975 has never been solved. Hoffa was a major figure in the Supermob, the go-betweens of the upper world and the mafia world. As the Teamster president, Jimmy had two very important voters: his members and the gangsters that helped him move up the ladder to union success. Hoffa served his gangster associates by writing them into Teamster union power and Teamster union pension-fund cash. In his Supermob role, Hoffa did more to expand the affluence of the gangs and knit them into the fabric of American life than any gangster since Al Capone.
When Hoffa lost his role as Teamster president, he also lost his role as the Supermob’s biggest and most powerful figure. Of no further use to the mob, Hoffa lived on borrowed time from the moment he left the Pennsylvania prison, where he was sentenced after being convicted of fraud, bribery, and conspiracy. Instead of being a channel for the upper world, Jimmy had become nothing but trouble. He had enough information to destroy every member of the Mafia, and the Mafia knew this.1
The date was July 30, 1975, and it was the day Jimmy Hoffa disappeared from the face of the earth. By Thursday morning, July 31, the word had spread throughout Detroit that Jimmy had not been home the night before. This was very unusual because Josephine, Jimmy’s wife, had a heart problem and Hoffa would never leave her alone. By the time the Thursday evening news was over, the rest of the public also knew that Jimmy was no where to be found. Immediate speculations of a gangland killing quickly began to form.
And then, like a complex animated puzzle the details of all of Jimmy’s last known activities started to fit together to form the whole picture.
Josephine was the first piece holder to be questioned for information. She told police Jimmy left their house around 1:00 PM on July 30 headed for the Machus Red Fox restaurant on Telegraph Road. He had told her he was going there to meet with someone. He never told her who he was going to meet. At 2:30 PM Jimmy called and told Josephine that he had been stood up, and he asked if anyone had called for him. No one had called, and that is what she told her husband. She expected him home by 4:00 PM. He never made it. Jimmy always called when he was going to be late. He never called.
Lois Linteau, a close family friend was the next to be questioned. Hoffa made a stop at Linteau’s airport limo service at about 1:30 PM. Linteau and the limo service president, Cindy Green, had left ten minutes prior to Jimmy’s arrival. Hoffa allegedly drove on to the restaurant.2
At about 3:30 PM, Linteau received a telephone call from Hoffa. Jimmy had told him he was on his way to meet Tony G., Tony P., and a man named Lenny. Linteau said that Jimmy sounded furious on the phone. He also expected Hoffa to show up back at the limo service, but he never did.
At 8:00 PM, Linteau called the Hoffa home to speak with Jimmy. When Josephine told him Jimmy was not there, he thought she was joking. He hung up with Josephine and called Cindy Green and suggested that the two of them go and wait for Jimmy with Josephine.
They ended up spending the night. At 4:30 AM, Josephine woke Linteau up informing him Jimmy still was not home. Linteau and Green then went back to their office. Later that morning, Linteau went to the parking lot of the Machus Red Fox to look for Jimmy.
At 7:20 AM, July 31, Linteau arrived at the parking lot and discovered Hoffa’s 1974 four-door green Pontiac Grand Ville.
He immediately called Police Chief Bill Hanger. Chief Hanger was not in, so he left a message and called the Bloomfield Township Police. They informed him he would have to wait until 8:00 AM to have someone check it out. By 8:15 AM, Captain James Keller of the Bloomfield Township police department and Lt. Curt Grennier, head of the Departments Intelligence Section, were at the restaurant parking lot.3
The ’74 Pontiac stood almost alone in the huge parking lot. It was unlocked and the keys were not in the ignition. Joe Bane was then contacted to find out if he had a set of keys to the car. He did not. He did, however call Hoffa’s son in Traverse City, Jimmy P. Jimmy P. told them to force the trunk open. The car was towed to the police-station garage, and the trunk was forced open. Nothing unusual was found in the trunk.4 The Bloomfield Township police quickly explained their action of opening the trunk. “There’s no question that we took this action because of the bombing of the car owned by Dick Fitzsimmons, an officer of Teamster Local 299. We frankly had to find out if a body was in that trunk.”5
While the police were opening up the trunk of Jimmy’s car, Jimmy P. was on a plane heading for the Oakland-Pontiac Airport. He arrived at 9:35 AM.6
By 11:00 AM, Jimmy Jr. was at the Bloomfield Police station telling Grennier that the family did not know why his father had not returned. Police said they’d do some more checking before having him file a missing-persons report.7
The police checked with the employees of the Red Fox, but none of them had seen Hoffa the day before. Several employees said they would have immediately known him by sight. They agreed that the short, stocky, outspoken Hoffa was hard to miss. John Miller, the manager, said that he nor the questioned employees had seen Hoffa in the restaurant in about a year. He also said there were no reservations made by Hoffa or any other teamster for that Wednesday, July 30.8
Thursday afternoon, Bloomfield Township police contacted Captain Lewis Smith, Commander of the Michigan Police Intelligence Section. According to Grennier, the state police were called in “because they’re used to handling this sort of thing.”
Grennier also talked to the FBI. The acting special agent in charge, Jay Bailey, said that the bureau was monitoring the case but hadn’t officially entered it. “When there is any indication of a violation of federal law, we’ll move in,” he told the press and the Hoffa family. The federal statute on
kidnapping states transporting of the victim across any state line is basis for federal jurisdiction. It also states that once a kidnapping is known to have occurred, failure to release the victim within twenty-four hours allows the presumption that he’s been taken across a state line. Then the FBI can take action.9
Other than the reporters in the area, neighbors had not intruded on the family’s privacy. The privacy was interrupted by Lt. Grennier and Detective Wally Quarles entering the house. They were there to give Jimmy Jr. a chance to file a missing-persons report.
After leaving the house, Grennier told newsmen, “considering Mr. Hoffa’s labor movement background, we must considered foul play. This case has the implication of a kidnapping but we’re now treating him as a missing person. The next twenty-four hours are critical. My feeling is that things do not look good.”10
Frank Fitzsimmons, International Union President, called the Hoffa home from his LaCosta, California home. He talked to Jimmy P. and asked them if they knew what was going on. He told reporters later, “It’s just unbelievable that anything like this could happen. Sure, Jimmy and I had our disagreements, but something like this is, well, just insane.” He also said, “I just don’t understand what’s going on back there in Detroit. I
was very irritated when I learned of the bombing of my son’s car, and now we have something like this.” Observers are still speculating as to Fitzsimmons awareness of more than he admits in the Hoffa case.
Many people do not believe Fitzsimmons was sincere with his concern. Union members know that Fitzsimmons and Hoffa have been involved in a bitter feud, not just a disagreement. But Fitzsimmons, in a moment of enthusiasm, said he would pledge the resources of his union to solve the disappearance.
One union local actually came up with some of those resources as part of the reward. Detroit Local 299, Hoffa’s home local, immediately offered a $25,000 reward through the Detroit News’ “Secret Witness” program, a program in which an informer’s identity is guaranteed to be withheld. The reward was the largest ever offered in the eight year history of the program. It would pay for information leading to the arrest and conviction of anyone responsible for James R. Hoffa’s disappearance. The reward quickly became $300,000 when the Hoffa family and Overdrive Magazine pledged larger sums of money.11
Foul play was mentioned every time that Anthony Giacalone’s name was mentioned. He was the Tony G. Hoffa said he was going to meet. Giacalone denied to state police that he had set up a
meeting with Hoffa on July 30. The Bloomfield police could not get any information from him. According to Lt. Grennier, “Hoffa Jr. had tried to meet with Giacalone, who failed to show up.” He had waited for about forty-five minutes. Grennier said they had been unable to contact Tony G. He was expected to call Jimmy P. Giacalone had a reputation for avoiding reporters as well as law enforcement agents.
The police identified Tony P. as Anthony Provenzano. He was thought to be the key to Hoffa’s disappearance by most FBI agents. When Tony was cornered by reporters, he claimed he had no knowledge that could help the case. Tony told reporters, “I’m just as shocked as you by Jimmy’s disappearance. I would sure help find him if I could. I’m just a truck driver who don’t know nothing about any of this stuff.” The only part of his statement that was true was that a long time ago he was a truck driver.
After serving a five year sentence, Tony P. got out of prison and claimed he was helpful to Hoffa in getting a pardon from then, President Richard Nixon. But later, when Provenzano tried to get a large pension fund loan, he said Hoffa made sure it was denied him. They had a falling out and Provenzano then allied himself with Frank Fitzsimmons, totally against Hoffa.
The meeting on July 30, 1975 was allegedly arranged by
Anthony G. as a peace making meeting with Hoffa and Tony P. Tony P. had been questioned by the FBI and the Intelligence Section of the New Jersey State Police. He gave them six names of people, not all Teamster members, who had seen him at the Local 560 hall in Union City, the day of Hoffa’s disappearance.
Daniel Sullivan, a former Teamster business man, told newsmen that Jimmy told him Tony P. had threatened to kill him. He said Tony threatened him so he would give up his battle to control the union. Sullivan quoted Hoffa as saying, “Tony P. threatened to pull my guts out or kidnap my grandchildren.” The FBI never could gather enough evidence to tie Tony P. to Hoffa’s disappearance.12
The investigators never could positively identify the man that Hoffa called Lenny. They did, however, have their speculations.7 On August 2, a North American Newspaper Alliance story called “FBI Trying to Link Hoffa Disappearance to Mob Takeover of Eastern Teamsters” appeared. The facts published by the N.A.N.A. were later confirmed by Time magazine and Overdrive, the truckers’ publication whose reporting on Teamster activities has won many awards.
N.A.N.A. stated that the Federal Bureau of Investigation
believed that the mysterious disappearance of former Teamster
president James R. Hoffa was linked to an alleged attempt by organized crime to take over control of the union’s East Coast
operations, particularly in New York and New Jersey.
The FBI has been told that elements within organized crime
feared that Hoffa would easily return to Teamster power at the union’s convention in 1976. They feared a bitter Hoffa election campaign against current International president Frank E. Fitzsimmons or International secretary-treasurer Dusty Miller, reportedly in line to succeed Fitzsimmons, who, rumors say, was to retire in 1976.
Of course, while the investigations went on, the police were getting tips from everywhere. None of them panned out. One lady called the Secret Witness program to report seeing Hoffa’s body floating in a small lake. Lawrence Haerbert called and told police Hoffa’s body could be found in a field just outside of Somerset, Michigan. His report went into great detail. He told authorities Hoffa was shot once in the chest and dumped in the field. Another tip said Hoffa’s body was buried in a park. For two hours police tracked an area in the park with no luck. Investigators received thousands of these so called tips from what they called “screwballs.” None of these tips ever did anything but waste time.13
During the duration of 1975, scores of investigators worked overtime in Michigan, New Jersey, Florida, California and New York. They spent huge sums of money trying to bust open the Jimmy Hoffa case. It had become embarrassing to Director Clarence Kelly of the FBI that Hoffa’s abductors had not been identified and his disappearance solved. To this day neither Hoffa’s body or his abductor’s have been found.
James Riddle Hoffa was a beloved and powerful union leader. He had many friends along with powerful enemies. Investigators presume that one, if not several, of his powerful enemies got rid of their power hungary competitors.