Letters

Letters 04-14-14

Benishek Inching

Regarding “Benishek No Environmentalist” I agree with Mr. Powell’s letter to the editor/ opinion of Congressman Dan Benishek’s poor environmental record and his penchant for putting corporate interests ahead of his constituents’...

Climate Change Warning

Currently there are three assaults on climate change. The first is on the integrity of the scientists who support human activity in climate change. Second is that humans are not capable of affecting the climate...

Fed Up About Roads

It has gotten to the point where I cringe when I have to drive around this area. There are areas in Traverse City that look like a war zone. When you have to spend more time viewing potholes instead on concentrating on the road, accidents are bound to happen...

Don’t Blame the IRS

I have not heard much about the reason for the IRS getting itself entangled with the scrutiny of certain conservative 501(c) groups (not for profit) seeking tax exemption. Groups seeking tax relief must be organizations that are operated “primarily for the purpose of bringing about civic betterment and social improvements.”


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Hoffa expert weighs in on Cadillac story

Anne Stanton - December 28th, 2009
Hoffa Expert Weighs in on Cadillac Story
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 it’s 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 Smith’s 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 weren’t around in 1975 when the Teamster president
disappeared, you might likely be wondering why you should even care.
Hoffa once led the Teamster’s Union, whose 1957-1971 tenure was
reputed for violence, fraud and underworld dealings with the Mafia. He
went to prison in 1967—still retaining his position in the union—for
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
Troy Taylor.

MANIPULATION MOTIVE
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
report.
Hoffa waited at the restaurant, for about 15 minutes, and called his
wife, sounding irate that he’d 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 of—crushed/smelted/compacted/shredded/ground up/buried—it’s
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.

MAKESHIFT GRAVE
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
Hoffa’s 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 doesn’t 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 Smith’s
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, I’d 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 else’s, probably. In my experience, there are certain
checkpoints, and this one hits none of the checkpoints. But again, I’m
in the same boat; I certainly have never found the body, and I can’t
judge this information.
“My feeling is this lead is not better and no worse, including mine. I
believe it was a three-act drama: Hoffa’s picked up at the (Machus)
Red Fox, Act 1. He’s taken to a private home and murdered, Act 2. And
then he’s 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 checkpoint—he 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 don’t know what he got of it, conning me,
wasting my time. What can we do?
“. … I just want to see this thing solved. There’s 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
on it.”
Moldea said that he’s 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 wasn’t sufficiently reliable.
Craig Jones of Kewadin would also like a bright light on this latest
theory. If the FBI won’t pursue Smith’s lead, he would like to get
involved. After reading last week’s story, he called Express with his
idea—to 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 wouldn’t 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 acquaintance—one who is well connected with the
Mafia—said that Smith’s account sounded consistent with the mob’s
modus operandi.
“It would be great if Pete and I could come up with something. I am
like Pete—I’m a very practical person—and 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.”
 
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