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The Nation

A Break in Hoffa Case? FBI Will See

March 14, 2004|From Associated Press

DETROIT — The FBI will investigate a purported deathbed confession by a former Pennsylvania Teamster official that says he helped dispose of the body of Teamster boss Jimmy Hoffa.

The confession, said to have been written by Francis Sheeran before he died Dec. 14 in a nursing home near Philadelphia, says Sheeran flew to Pontiac the day Hoffa disappeared in 1975, picked up Hoffa's body from his killers and drove it to a trash incinerator in Hamtramck, where it was cremated.

"The case is still open, and we run down any leads we receive on it," FBI spokeswoman Dawn Clenney said Friday.

Sheeran's daughter, however, says the letter is a fake.

"It's definitely a forgery. It's not his signature," Dolores Miller, of West Chester, Pa., told the Detroit Free Press.

Miller said she believed the document was created by her father's biographer, John Zeitts of Omaha, to upstage a book due to be published by another author.

Zeitts, who says his book still is in the works, said Friday that the confession was genuine.

He said Sheeran sent him the confession in November and he forwarded it to Hoffa's daughter, Barbara Crancer, who is a judge in St. Louis.

Crancer gave the letter to the FBI and the Free Press.

Hoffa took charge of the Teamsters in 1957 and was imprisoned in 1967 for jury tampering and fraud. He was pardoned in 1971 after giving up the union presidency, but after his release began agitating to regain his job.

At the time he vanished, Hoffa was on his way to a meeting with Anthony Provenzano, a New Jersey Teamsters boss, and Anthony Giacalone, a Detroit Mafia captain.

Investigators believe Provenzano and Giacalone had Hoffa killed to prevent him from regaining the union presidency.

Over the years, there have been many theories about where he is, including that he is entombed under Giants Stadium in New Jersey.

In July, authorities dug up a backyard swimming pool in Michigan's Bay County in an unsuccessful search for clues.

Hoffa's son, James P. Hoffa, is now president of the Teamsters union.

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