Why I will not give up looking for Jimmy Hoffa

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Eric Shawn,
On Sunday, Dec. 1 at 10 p.m. EST on the Fox News Channel, the result of almost two decades investigating the greatest mystery in American history will be distilled into one hour (minus commercials). The program, “Fox Nation Presents: The Real Search for James R. Hoffa,” documents my long quest to try to uncover the answers to Hoffa’s murder when he disappeared in Detroit on July 30, 1975.

When I first called sources — including government officials — in the course of my reporting and told them that I am calling about “Jimmy Hoffa,” I was invariably met by the same reaction. A laugh. An incredulous “what?!” followed by the mandatory chuckle. Or this: “really?” “seriously?” “you are?”

These days, Jimmy Hoffa is not so much remembered for his trailblazing dedication to American labor and his achievements at the bargaining table that raised millions of working-class families to a higher standard of living as he is for his disappearance. And we have all heard the jokes. He is buried under the end zone of the old Giants stadium or in the concrete of a highway somewhere. But heartless humor so ignores the cruel and unforgiving fate that befell a giant, who was also a loving husband and father.

It is long past time that Hoffa’s family — his daughter Barbara Crancer, a retired judge in St. Louis, who is now 81 and his son, James P. Hoffa, who currently sits behind his father’s old desk as president of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters — learn what really happened to their father. Millions of proud Teamsters and the nation also deserve to know the truth.

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The fact that the Hoffa murder remains unsolved represents a haunting challenge. The full power of the federal government was thrown into finding the answers, only to come up short, at least as far as we publicly know. That is why I am calling on the government to fully release the FBI Hoffa files that are still secret. The tens of thousands of pages that have been released remain heavily redacted, protecting suspects and sources from nearly 30 years ago, who no longer need that legal protection.

In 1989, Hoffa’s daughter filed a lawsuit against the federal government, seeking to pry open the files.

“I want to find the truth,” Barbara said. U.S. District Court Judge Stephen N. Limbaugh, who happens to be Rush Limbaugh’s uncle, held the government’s feet to the fire, but in the end, Barbara’s plea was denied.
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Today only two major Hoffa suspects remain alive, Charles “Chuckie” O’Brien and Stephen Andretta.

O’Brien’s step-son, Jack Goldsmith, has written an impassioned book, “In Hoffa’s Shadow, A Stepfather, a Disappearance in Detroit, and My Search for the Truth,” that lays out the case that Chuckie was falsely suspected of participating in the crime. Goldsmith says that the FBI has determined that his step-father was not involved after all. The bureau’s Detroit office will not comment on that.

And Goldsmith is far more than a loving and dedicated step-son to Chuckie. He is the Henry L. Shattuck Professor of Law at Harvard University, who served as one of the nation’s top law-enforcement officials, as the assistant U.S. attorney general in the George W. Bush administration, head of the Office of Legal Counsel. He provided legal guidance to the president, attorney general and all of the federal executive agencies. The actions of the FBI fell under his purview.

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The other suspect, Andretta, is keeping his own counsel and has declined my repeated requests to talk. This leaves us with the files.

The Department of Justice documents that I have seen state that New Jersey Genovese family mobster Salvatore “Sally Bugs” Briguglio shot Hoffa. Our most recent reporting on Fox Nation and Fox News revealed new claims that “Sally Bugs” was the shooter. The FBI could not make a case against him because justice came Mafia-style when “Sally Bugs” was gunned down on Mulberry Street in Manhattan’s Little Italy in 1978, three years after Hoffa disappeared. It was believed that he was about to turn state’s evidence and testify against the suspected architect of the Hoffa killing, his boss and notorious Genovese crime family New Jersey Capo Anthony “Tony Pro” Provenzano.

Phillip Moscato Jr., the son of one of the Hoffa suspects, said his father not only told him that “Sally Bugs,” his childhood friend and fellow mobster, shot Hoffa but also where Hoffa’s remains were buried in northern New Jersey. A second independent revelation came from Frank Cappola, the son of the co-owner of the Jersey City dump where the FBI was told Hoffa’s body was taken. Cappola corroborates Moscato’s information that Hoffa was transported to New Jersey after he was killed in Detroit. Cappola also says that he knows where Hoffa was buried because he told us that it was his father Paul who buried him.

“My father said ‘this man should go back home. He needs to go back home. He was a good man.’ My father respected him,” Frank said. “It needs to be finished.”

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“A big, big, big part of this is the Hoffa family,” said Phil. “I can only imagine having that and never knowing. I’m hoping to try and give them a little closure.”

I interviewed both men as part of our Fox Nation investigation along with the most respected Hoffa expert in the nation, Washington, D.C. investigative journalist Dan Moldea. Moldea agrees that it is past time for the government files to be released.

In 1991, Henry J. Fredericks, an assistant U.S. attorney in St. Louis, said that “the files will lead to an ultimate conclusion.” That has yet to happen. The American public is still not allowed to read all of the still censored documents. The conclusion that Fredericks predicted will only be revealed when we are allowed to read everything. Former U.S. Attorney General Michael Mukasey, former federal prosecutors and Hoffa case investigators agree that the information should be made public.

“You never give up when your father is murdered,” James P. Hoffa once said. “You never stop trying to find the answers.”

We should not either.

Programming Alert: On Sunday, Dec. 1 at 10 p.m. EST Fox News will air “Fox Nation Presents: The Real Search for James R. Hoffa.” And to watch all of Shawn’s Fox Nation docuseries “Riddle: The Search for James R. Hoffa”