Was Jimmy Hoffa more powerful than JFK

Topic overview

Coming from a poor background, Jimmy Hoffa, born in 1913, worked his way up to become one of the most powerful union bosses in the United States. As head of the transport workers 'union, Teamsters, in Detroit, he got caught in an opaque web of union and "high" politics, power struggles within the now powerful workers' representation, violence, corruption and organized crime.

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When Hoffa became vice president of the union in 1952, he was soon targeted by the authorities. One man in particular became his intimate enemy: Robert F. Kennedy, as chief adviser to a committee investigating the criminal activities of Teamsters and their Mafia contacts, collected evidence against Hoffa.

Presidency instead of prison

Hoffa was monitored by the FBI and brought to justice for an attempted bribe. The jury could not bring themselves to conviction. Hoffa's attorney then announced that he would send a parachute to Robert F. Kennedy. He had previously said that he would jump from the Capitol if Hoffa is not convicted. The provocation tore even deeper rifts between the two men. Teamsters President Dave Beck, on the other hand, was not spared prison - and so Hoffa rose to his successor that same year.

The career of his opponent also went up: When John F. Kennedy became US President in 1960, he made his brother Robert Minister of Justice - and he targeted Hoffa even more sharply. After several trials, the union boss was finally sentenced to eight years in 1964 in Nashville for bribery and to five years in prison in Chicago for fraud and conspiracy. His appeals process failed, but it wasn't until 1967 that he began serving his sentence.

Kennedy shot

A year later, in June 1968, Robert F. Kennedy was killed. The Jerusalem-born Christian Arab Sirhan Sirhan shot Kennedy with a pistol while he was about to announce his victory in the California Democratic Party primary in a Los Angeles hotel. After the crime, Sirhan shouted, "I did it for my country." Apparently he was furious about Kennedy's commitment to delivering American fighter jets to Israel.

He was sentenced to death, later the sentence was changed to life imprisonment. Nevertheless, rumors kept surfacing that the act might have gone very differently. There was also talk of a second shooter - and of course Kennedy's intimate enemy Hoffa was also suspected to be behind the attack.

Pardoned by Nixon

Hoffa also made the most important decisions for his union while in prison. He didn't have to fully serve his sentence. In 1971, President Richard Nixon pardoned him. There was talk of party donations from the union to the Republicans. In 1972 Teamsters also supported Nixon's candidacy, although the union had always sided with the Democrats in previous years.

Although Hoffa had to renounce the presidency of the union as a condition for his release, he soon began planning his comeback - until he disappeared in 1975. Since 1999, however, a Hoffa has been at the helm of Teamsters again: Jimmy's son James has been president since then.

Rumors of JFK assassination

Perhaps the wildest rumor about Hoffa came from the gossip "New York Post" in 1992: According to this, the union boss hired two mafiosi to kill John F. Kennedy in 1963. Ex-lawyer Frank Regano told the newspaper that Hoffa had brought him a message to the Mafia bosses Santos Trafficante and Carlos Marcello in early 1963, which contained the order for the murder. Kennedy was shot dead in Dallas on November 22, 1963.

No evidence

"Jimmy told me to tell Marcello and Trafficante to kill the president," Regano said, according to the newspaper. He had involuntarily become the messenger in the murder plot. After the Kennedy murder, Hoffa said the crime was good news. According to the New York Post, Kennedy was hated by the two mafiosi because his brother Robert cracked down on organized crime.

Trafficante died in 1987, Marcello in 1993. The latter was also suspected of being involved in the crime riddle by George Robert Blakey, chairman of a commission of inquiry into the assassination. The Texan lawyer and historian Mark North also wanted Marcello and Hoffa to be responsible for the crime in a book. However, no evidence was found for any of these theories.