Hoffa Hoped Philly Mob Don Angelo Bruno Could Save His Dying Bid For Teamsters Presidency

December 3, 2019 — Labor union titan Jimmy Hoffa reached out to Philadelphia mafia boss Angelo Bruno in the months before he was kidnapped and killed in his hometown of Detroit looking for backing from Bruno in his fight to take back the Teamsters, according to FBI debriefing documents known as “302s.” In essence, the iconic Teamsters chief was requesting that Bruno go against his fellow mob royals in other parts of the country refusing to support his bid for reelection and demanding that he retire from union politics all together. It was a last-ditch effort on Hoffa’s part and didn’t end with the results he had wished for.

Hoffa vanished on the afternoon of July 20, 1975 from a suburban Detroit restaurant parking lot. Bruno, who himself was slain gangland-style in 1980, rebuffed Hoffa’s overtures, sending his main labor union emissary Ralph Natale to meet Hoffa in an airport hotel near Chicago and tell him he was treading on thin ice, according to Natale’s own account provided in his memoir, Last Don Standing.

“He was talking crazy…….I could smell the dirt from his grave,” Natale recounted to his biographer Larry McShane in the 2016 book.

Hoffa was feuding with Bruno’s counterparts on the “Commission,” the American mafia’s governing body or board of directors, over his attempt to reclaim power in the Teamsters – with the help of the mob – had grown to monolithic heights of power around the world prior to stepping down from his post atop the towering truckers union in 1970 as a means of getting out of prison on a fraud conviction by securing a White House pardon. Last week, Gangster Report published a story recounting Hoffa’s little-known bid to rally support from the so-called Suncoast mob contingent in his reelection effort. Like Bruno, the dons from Florida, California, Arizona and New Orleans told him to get lost.

The mystery surrounding what happened to Hoffa is back in the news lately because of the Netflix film The Irishman, Martin Scorsese’s tale of Hoffa’s downfall as recounted by east coast Teamsters thug Frank (The Irishman) Sheeran. The screenplay is based on author Charlie Brandt’s book I Heard You Paint Houses in which Sheeran confesses to murdering Hoffa in a house in Northwest Detroit. Robert DeNiro plays Sheeran and Al Pacino is cast as Hoffa.

Sheeran ran a Teamsters outpost in Delaware and did muscle work in the union for Hoffa and Bruno through his close relationship to Northeast Pennsylvania crime lord Russell Bufalino. Joe Pesci portrays Bufalino in The Irishman. Harvey Keitel plays Bruno in the film. Sheeran died in 2003, three months before I Heard You Paint Houses hit the bookshelves.

Hoffa’s remains have never been unearthed and the case is still considered an open investigation by the FBI. He was on his way to meet representatives from the Detroit and New York mob families for a sit down to resolve union business the day he disappeared.

Ralph Natale was Bruno’s personal troubleshooter and enforcer in multiple labor unions across the country, including the Teamsters. In his capacity working for Bruno, Natale interacted with Sheeran and Hoffa frequently. He went to prison for drugs and arson in 1979. A year later, Bruno was shotgunned to death sitting in a car parked outside his South Philly residence, the victim of a palace coup.

When Natale was released from federal prison in the 1990s, he took over as boss of Philadelphia mafia. Natale entered the Witness Protection Program in 1999, the first sitting American mob don to ever turn state’s evidence. He disputes Sheeran’s admission of guilt in the Hoffa hit.

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