Nation: Jimmy Hoffa’s Last Ride

Nation: Jimmy Hoffas Last Ride
Two new books examine the mystery of the Teamster's fate Who killed Jimmy Hoffa? And why, where and how? The main outlines of
Hoffa's death were widely reported after he disappeared in 1975, but
two writers provide some new details about the nation's largest and
most crime-ridden major union in their forthcoming books: The Teamsters
by Steven Brill, and The Hoffa Wars by Dan E. Moldea. The beginning of the end for Hoffa came in 1971, when President Nixon
commuted his 13-year sentence in Lewisburg Federal Penitentiary for
jury tampering. Once free, Hoffa set out to regain control of the union
from Frank Fitzsimmons, his hand-picked successor. But Fitzsimmons had
come to enjoy the power and perks and had no intention of stepping
down. The mobsters, who had been flourishing during Fitzsimmons'
genially relaxed reign—joining various regional Teamster bosses in
lucrative loan sharking, pension-fund frauds, sweetheart contracts,
management-union kickback deals and other rackets—did not want Hoffa
back either. They feared that he would centralize power again and deal
out a few racketeers who had rubbed him the wrong way. Both writers agree with the FBI that Hoffa's murder was engineered by
Anthony Provenzano, the heavyhanded boss of New Jersey's
Teamsters, who was convicted in June of the 1961 murder of Anthony
Castellito, a Teamster hoodlum who had challenged Tony Pro's cut of the
rackets. Jimmy and Tony Pro had long been buddies, but they almost came to blows
in July 1967, when both were serving time in Lewisburg, Tony Pro for
extortion. A fellow convict told Brill that the two argued over how to
divide up Teamster turf, and Hoffa made it clear that he would give no
help to Tony Pro. “Tony was explaining to Jimmy how he was going to get
right back into things in New Jersey,” recalled the convict. “Well,
Jimmy exploded at him. 'Look,' he said, 'when you get out, you guys are
going to have to be on your own.' Tony's cheeks were red and twitching,
he was so mad. Finally, he came towards Hoffa screaming, 'If you don't
get out of my shit and back off of me, you'll end up like Castellito!
They won't find so much as a fingernail of yours!' Jimmy yelled,
'Bullshit!' and that's when I broke them up.” The feud continued both in prison and after Hoffa and Provenzano were
released. According to Moldea, Hoffa told a fellow Teamster that
Provenzano had “threatened to pull my guts out or kidnap my children if
I continue to attempt to return to the presidency of the Teamsters.”
But, at the urging of Anthony Giacalone, a Detroit gang
lieutenant and longtime friend, Hoffa finally agreed to meet with Tony
Pro on July 30, 1975, to try to resolve their differences.