Last week, the Express reported on Pete Smith who saw what he believes
were two suspicious Italian men in a remote woods near Cadillac two
days after Jimmy Hoffa disappeared. After they left, Smith
investigated the area and found a mound of sand, seven feet in
diameter, which appeared to be a freshly-dug grave.
Pete Smith, a former golf course developer/designer, remains convinced
that its the gravesite of Jimmy Hoffa. The FBI, so far, is
unconvinced and has not pursued a search warrant to dig up the spot,
marked with a large boulder. How does Smiths story line up with the
facts? Read on
By Anne Stanton
There is no shortage of theories to what happened to Jimmy Hoffa.
And if you werent around in 1975 when the Teamster president
disappeared, you might likely be wondering why you should even care.
Hoffa once led the Teamsters Union, whose 1957-1971 tenure was
reputed for violence, fraud and underworld dealings with the Mafia. He
went to prison in 1967still retaining his position in the unionfor
illegally funneling nearly $1.7 million of union pension money and
jury tampering. President Nixon pardoned Hoffa in 1971 on the
condition that he step out of union activities until 1980, when his
prison term would have expired without the pardon.
Hoffa, however, was suing to overturn the condition, which angered the
mob, according to an article, The Missing Teamster, by
Taylor wrote the mob wanted Hoffa out of the union permanently,
preferring to deal with the newly installed Teamsters president, Frank
Fitzsimmons, who was easier to manipulate. Fitzsimmons also had
influence in the White House, where Hoffa was persona non grata.
On July 30, 1975, Hoffa arrived at 2 p.m. at the upscale Machus Red
Fox restaurant in Bloomfield Township, where he was to meet three men
for a peace conference, including Tony Provenzano, a fellow Teamster
that had been in prison with Hoffa (they went in as friends, and left
as enemies). The lunch was intended as a meeting to settle
differences between Hoffa and Provenzano, according to a 1978 FBI
Hoffa waited at the restaurant, for about 15 minutes, and called his
wife, sounding irate that hed been stood up. Finally, a carload of
men showed up, and he got into the back seat. That was the last anyone
ever saw of him, the report said.
Since that day, there have been so many stories of how Hoffa was
disposed ofcrushed/smelted/compacted/shredded/ground up/buriedits
become a macabre joke. One mobster swears that Hoffa ran off to
Brazil with a go-go-dancer. The FBI reportedly has generated 16,000
pages of documents from interviews, wiretaps, and surveillance, and
still has a man assigned to the still-open Hoffa case.
Pete Smith went to the Michigan State Police in Cadillac last winter
with his story of seeing two suspicious-looking Italian at the time of
Hoffas disappearance after saying nothing to law enforcement for 34
years. He eventually talked to FBI Agent Robert Birdsong in Traverse
City last summer.
Smith believes that Hoffa lies in a makeshift grave in what used to be
woods, but is now the front yard of an expensive home in a Cadillac
subdivision. The property owner doesnt want the FBI nosing around on
the property and hired an attorney. The FBI Detroit office has decided
not to force the issue with a search warrant, believing that Smiths
lead lacks merit.
Dan Moldea, author of Hoffa Wars: The Rise and Fall of Jimmy Hoffa,
believes the FBI should reconsider.
I just want to see the case solved, and if your friend has
information, Id want to see this information pursued. . All of us
have had speculations about this, and all of us have been wrong. Let
me put it this way, there certainly has been no closure. This one is
good as anyone elses, probably. In my experience, there are certain
checkpoints, and this one hits none of the checkpoints. But again, Im
in the same boat; I certainly have never found the body, and I cant
judge this information.
My feeling is this lead is not better and no worse, including mine. I
believe it was a three-act drama: Hoffas picked up at the (Machus)
Red Fox, Act 1. Hes taken to a private home and murdered, Act 2. And
then hes loaded on a Gateway transportation truck and shipped to an
unknown destination, Act 3. My sources say the truck was crushed and
smelted and no longer exists.
FBI GOT SCAMMED
Moldea said the most recent, credible lead in 2006 came from Don
Wells, a guy who I know and respect, and gave the bit of information
about a Milford farm, which the FBI dug up. They knocked down a barn.
That was legitimate information and came from a credible source, and
he hit every checkpointhe was in the right place, knew the right
information, was cooperating with the FBI. So I called the guy and
went to Michigan to check it out. The FBI spent millions, and the
story ends up as a scam. I dont know what he got of it, conning me,
wasting my time. What can we do?
. I just want to see this thing solved. Theres a movie coming out
with Robert DeNiro and Martin Scorsese (I Heard You Paint Houses,
based on the book of the same name) and that will shine a bright light
Moldea said that hes heard that ground-penetrating radar (uses an
antenna to detect electromagnetic pulses) has been used to detect
unmarked graves with minimal costs. Smith said that he discussed the
technology with the FBI, but was told it wasnt sufficiently reliable.
Craig Jones of Kewadin would also like a bright light on this latest
theory. If the FBI wont pursue Smiths lead, he would like to get
involved. After reading last weeks story, he called Express with his
ideato offer the property owner money or free floor covering to dig
up the grave.
I would just try to offer him an olive branch, something to entice
him, said Jones, who owns Performance Flooring, a group of floor
covering companies. We could dig it up and put it back better than it
was before. It wouldnt take any more than one day, two days at most.
You just owe it to the history of America to know, he said.
Jones said a downstate acquaintanceone who is well connected with the
Mafiasaid that Smiths account sounded consistent with the mobs
It would be great if Pete and I could come up with something. I am
like PeteIm a very practical personand something is definitely
fishy about the situation. You never know; if we could dig it up and
prove it, I think it would be a great thing for this country.