January 4, 2020 – According to a mob associate in Michigan, famous Teamsters boss Jimmy Hoffa was killed at the house of Jewish racketeer and Teamster union-affiliate Leonard (Little Lenny) Schultz. Hoffa disappeared the afternoon of July 30, 1975 on his way to meet Schultz, Detroit mob street boss Anthony (Tony Jack) Giacalone and New Jersey mafia capo Anthony (Tony Pro) Provenzano at a Bloomfield Township restaurant to discuss union business. Hoffa’s datebook denoted a lunch meeting with “Tony G, Tony P & Lenny S.”
A convicted felon long connected to organized crime in the Motor City – dating back to his ties to the Purple Gang, the city’s heavily-feared Jewish mob during Prohibition –, Lenny Schultz had known Hoffa for years and helped Giacalone arrange a sit-down between Hoffa and Provenzano to settle a beef. But, only Hoffa showed up for the meeting, and Schultz and Giacalone were each other’s alibis as the hunt for Hoffa’s body intensified in the direct aftermath of him going missing. Schultz owned Tony Jack’s headquarters, the Southfield Athletic Club, where the pair spent the afternoon together instead of rendezvousing with Hoffa at the Red Fox.
The mythology surrounding the still-unsolved homicide has reached epic heights in the going on 45 years since the fiery labor leader vanished. The search for his remains, accompanied by rabid curiosity from the public and insatiable worldwide coverage of the investigation, continues to this very day.
One of Schultz’s former associates, who declined to be named, says Schultz told him that Hoffa was murdered at his home in Franklin, Michigan, a short drive from the Machus Red Fox restaurant where Hoffa was last seen getting into the passenger’s seat of a maroon-colored Mercury Marquis and driving away.
“Lenny and I were driving and he just said it, Tony Jack had the house keys, they choked him out in the living room and gave the body to Roland McMaster to get rid of,” said the associate. “It seemed like he just wanted to get it off his chest.”
McMaster was a notorious Teamsters thug and an ally-turned-enemy of Hoffa’s. In the months, preceding Hoffa’s murder, McMaster had been spearheading a campaign of violence and intimidation against Hoffa and his closest supporters in an attempt to derail Hoffa’s bid to retake the mammoth trucker and cartage worker union’s presidency he had given up years earlier to get out of a prison term via a White House pardon. FBI agents dug for Hoffa’s remains at McMaster’s former property, the Hidden Dreams Ranch, in Milford, Michigan, in 2006 and failed to find anything in a week-long excavation project.
The Schultz associate had ties to the old Capital Street Social Club crew, a group of Jewish and Middle-Eastern wiseguys who ran gambling rackets and worked under Tony Giacalone and his younger brother Vito (Billy Jack) Giacalone, a fellow capo in Detroit mob and prime suspect in the Hoffa case. Authorities think Billy Giacalone captained the Hoffa hit squad after shaking his Michigan State Police and FBI surveillance unit tails the morning of July 30, 1975.
Schultz came up in the Motown underworld mentored by Purple Gang lieutenant Abe (Abie the Agent) Zussman, acting as his driver and messenger during his teens and 20s. He was introduced to Hoffa by Purple Ganger, Joseph (Monkey Joe) Holtzman, a prominent labor-union consultant in the 1940s and 50s. Holtzman was a key cog in Hoffa’s powerbase, controlling the Jewish labor union contingent in Michigan and aiding in his climb to the Teamsters presidency. Hoffa’s ascent to the top of the union was fueled by Detroit’s Tocco-Zerilli crime family which Holtzman, Zussman and the rest of the Purple Gang Jewish mob were affiliated with in the post-Prohibition years.
Tony Giacalone became Hoffa’s contact in the crime family. Schultz became Giacalone’s troubleshooter in the Teamsters and his go-between with Hoffa, per a series of federal documents. The stern, finely-coiffed Giacalone trusted Schultz more than most non-Italian associates of his and wasn’t opposed to using his personal residence to do his dirty work, according to the FBI. Schultz’s house was most likely used as the “kill spot” in the 1974 gangland slaying of furniture store whiz-kid Harvey Leach, per FBI records.
Leach, 34, was found in the trunk of his car on the day of his wedding in Southfield, Michigan after running afoul of Giacalone and his brother following their business relationship going astray. He was last seen alive by his fiancé leaving for a meeting at Schultz’s house with Schultz and Tony Jack the morning before the couple was set to marry. His throat was cut ear-to-ear, he was shot twice in the back of the head and parts of his body were mutilated.
Schultz was responsible for introducing Giacalone to Leach and brokering a mob loan for Leach as a means of expanding his widely-popular Joshua Doore furniture store chain. Instead, Giacalone used Leach and the trendy Joshua Doore brand to launder money by way of Leach’s channels in Canada and then muscled him out of the business. Hurting Leach’s chances of survival was an alleged romance he engaged in with a girlfriend of Billy Giacalone’s while Billy Jack was away serving time in state prison.
The Giacalone brothers are believed to have coordinated the details in both the Hoffa and Leach hits. Steely-eyed Tony Jack lorded over the mafia in Detroit as its’ day-to-day leader for close to a half-century. His son Joey’s 1975 maroon-colored Mercury Marquis was seized by the feds in the days following Hoffa’s disappearance and eventually Hoffa’s DNA was found in the vehicle’s backseat and trunk. The more jovial Billy Jack was a veteran of crime family administrative duties as well, eventually rising to Detroit mob underboss in the 2000s.
In the months prior to Hoffa’s kidnapping and execution, Lenny Schultz’s home was burglarized. Schultz accused the FBI of staging the break-in to illegally search for evidence linking the property to the Leach murder. He died of natural causes in 2013 in retirement in Florida. Tony and Billy Giacalone passed away peacefully in their own beds, in 2001 and 2012, respectively.
Nobody has ever faced charges in either the Hoffa or Leach homicides. A retired Teamsters enforcer told investigative journalist and world-renowned Hoffa historian Dan Moldea that the same gun to kill Hoffa was used to kill Leach but undermined his own credibility by promising to show Moldea where the gun and Hoffa’s body were and failing to deliver. Moldea had a highly-placed source in the New York mafia tell him that Roland McMaster was responsible for transporting Hoffa’s body for burial at a landfill in New Jersey.
Interest in the Hoffa case has increased significantly recently with the November 2019 release of the Martin Scorsese-helmed film The Irishman, starring Al Pacino as Hoffa and Robert DeNiro as Frank (The Irishman) Sheeran, a Teamsters boss from Delaware claiming responsibility for being the man who killed Hoffa. The movie is based on the 2004 book I Heard You Paint Houses by Sheeran’s attorney Charlie Brandt, a former prosecutor, and traces Hoffa’s murder to a residence in Northwest Detroit.
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