Jimmy Hoffa search leads FBI to Jersey City landfill

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The disappearance of Jimmy Hoffa, a mystery that has gripped the American imagination for half a century on its rise to national folklore, is the subject of a new FBI investigation centered on the site of a former Jersey landfill site City. A worker, on his deathbed, said he buried the body underground in a steel drum.

FBI agents armed with a search warrant arrived in Jersey City on a dirt and gravel lot the size of a Little League diamond under the Pulaski Skyway on October 25 and 26 to conduct a “survey of the city. site, ”according to the local Detroit office, which investigated Mr. Hoffa’s disappearance in 1975. The steel drum is believed to be buried about 15 feet underground, in the shadow of countless millions of drivers who have passed it.

“FBI staff from the Newark and Detroit field offices have completed the investigation and this data is currently being analyzed,” Special Agent Mara R. Schneider said Thursday. The official statement did not mention Mr. Hoffa’s name and did not specify a timeline for a possible search.

The new investigation, of course, has a familiar sound, as it follows several unsuccessful searches for Mr. Hoffa’s body over the years. In Michigan, where Mr. Hoffa was last seen outside a restaurant, officers with backhoes searched various locations including a farm, driveway and under a swimming pool.

In New Jersey, a popular urban legend had Mr. Hoffa’s remains buried under the old Giants Stadium in the Meadowlands. The 2019 film “The Irishman” raised another version of what may have happened, portraying the character of Mr. Hoffa shot and killed by his friend, Frank Sheeran, and his body cremated. This theory, put forward by Mr. Sheeran in a book before his death, has long been considered improbable by Hoffa researchers.

But an expert on the Hoffa case who reported the disclosure of the steel barrel and its possible location to the FBI, Dan Moldea, a reporter who has written about Teamster’s boss since before his disappearance, said the website of the New Jersey is “100%” credible, and that the new leads were very meaningful.

“A high profile person disappeared from a public place 46 years ago and has never been seen again,” Moldea said Thursday. “This matter must be resolved.”

The new lead is reinforced by records showing the FBI received information as early as 1975, immediately after his disappearance, that Mr. Hoffa was buried in the Jersey City landfill. Officers searched and, finding nothing, canceled the tips.

“They didn’t know where to start,” Moldea said.

The story of how the FBI learned of the new location begins on a muddy summer day in 1975. A teenage boy named Frank Cappola worked at the old PJP landfill near the Skyway with his father, Paul Cappola Sr.

“While I was talking to my father, a black limousine entered our parking lot in the mud,” Frank Cappola remembers many years later, in 2019, at age 62, in a sworn statement before a notary. Her father turned to a partner at the landfill and said, “They are here.

The boy watched from a distance as the men approached the vehicle, where they spoke to visitors and appeared to point to a remote corner of the landfill. He would learn later what was planned.

By the summer of 1975, Jimmy Hoffa, who once commanded the powerful Teamsters union, had fallen from the heights of power. He served a prison sentence after being convicted of jury tampering in 1964, and his attempts to return to his union throne upon his release were not well received.

At the same time, a long-standing friendship with New Jersey Mafia boss Anthony Provenzano – “Tony Pro” – had seriously deteriorated. Men who operated in the pair’s orbit would later say it was practically an open secret that Mr. Hoffa’s days were numbered.

On July 30, 1975, Mr. Hoffa was in Bloomfield Township, Michigan, for a meeting to resolve this situation. He was to sit with Mr. Provenzano and another gangster at Machus Red Fox, a popular restaurant. But when he arrived, the other two men weren’t there.

And with that, Jimmy Hoffa is gone.

The FBI combed the restaurant’s credit card receipts to locate potential witnesses to that day. A few said they saw Mr Hoffa that afternoon in front, where he got into the back seat of a driving car away.

Agents interrogated union leaders, mafia bosses and henchmen, shooting dozens of them in front of grand juries. A possible result of Mr. Hoffa’s disappearance has emerged among many, with the seemingly unlikely destination hundreds of miles away – a New Jersey landfill. The 87-acre landfill was owned in part by a man named Phil Moscato and was commonly referred to as “Brother Moscato’s Landfill”.

Credit…Associated press

A Teamster who was in prison in New Jersey on an unrelated murder conviction, Ralph Picardo, became an informant and told the FBI in 1975 that Mr. Provenzano told him as early as 1974 that Mr. Hoffa “was destined to be. killed, “according to FBI documents.

Shortly after Mr. Hoffa’s disappearance, associates of Mr. Provenzano visited Mr. Picardo in prison and, during their conversation, said that Mr. Provenzano had arranged for Mr. Hoffa’s execution and that the body had been transported to New Jersey in a truck.

“Picardo is only speculating that Hoffa’s body may be in Moscato’s New Jersey landfill,” the FBI wrote in a 1979 report, “and has no direct knowledge of the exact location. Mr. Provenzano died in 1988.

A second informant in Philadelphia said two thugs brought up the disappearance during a conversation. One said, “If the authorities start digging in the proposed New Jersey dump, they’ll hit dirt for a fee,” and the other replied, “Yes, they definitely will,” according to the report.

FBI agents visited the landfill in 1975 with a search warrant for another missing person, but in reality they were hoping to locate Mr. Hoffa. They did a quick search, not knowing where to dig, and found nothing.

The discharge itself has become a toxic hazard. Underground fires burned day and night, spewing chemical fumes into the poor neighborhoods surrounding the site. In 1983, the landfill, then called PJP Landfill, was declared a Superfund site, a disaster area for the environment to be cleaned up.

Thousands of barrels were dug up and washed away, and the landfill was plugged. In recent years it has been transformed into Skyway Park, a vibrant green belt along the Hackensack River.

Mr. Moldea has continued to re-examine the Hoffa case over the years. In 2019, when “The Irishman” opened to audiences in theater and on Netflix, he praised the film’s engaging narrative while also calling its climactic murder bogus.

It was around this time that Mr. Moldea was introduced to a stranger named Frank Cappola, the teenager from the landfill, with a story to tell about his father.

He remembered that muddy summer day of 1975, with the black limousine and the conversation between his father, Mr. Moscato, the partner, and the visitors. When people started gesturing towards an area of ​​the landfill, Frank Cappola saw his father, Paul, react with anger: “Now the whole world will know!” He cried with a curse.

Frank didn’t know what he was talking about for years. Then, in 2008, with the approach of death, his father summoned him to tell his story, which he had not shared with anyone. He encouraged his son to reveal it at the appropriate time.

The men in the limousine had come to inform the men in the landfill that Mr Hoffa’s body would be delivered shortly and that they were to bury him, Paul Cappola told his son. Mr. Moscato told him to do the job himself.

“My father was angry with Mr Moscato for pointing the finger at this area of ​​the landfill,” Frank Cappola wrote in a 2019 affidavit, “because the landfill was under constant police surveillance.”

“Unidentified people brought Hoffa’s corpse to PJP,” Frank Cappola wrote. “Due to the awkward position of Hoffa’s corpse after removing it from the container it was in previously, they were unable to place it, feet first, in a 55 gallon steel drum collected at PJP. . So they put it in the drum head first.

Paul Cappola was left alone with the body in the barrel and feared someone might have seen the men pointing fingers earlier. He made a change of plans.

“My dad, who didn’t trust anyone, decided to dig a second hole with a company excavator and put Hoffa there,” wrote Frank Cappola.

The new hole was on a desolate piece of unused state property just outside the landfill, between eight and 15 feet deep, the father told his son. He buried Hoffa’s barrel first, followed by 15 to 30 barrels of chemicals and pieces of brick and dirt, he told his son.

Then he covered the whole area with earth. He “placed something detectable just below the surface of the burial site, which I am prepared to disclose to law enforcement,” Frank Cappola wrote. Paul Cappola told his son that he had never shared the location with his partner or anyone else.

In March 2020, Frank Cappola passed away from long-standing respiratory problems. He left his father’s secret to Mr. Moldea, who wrote about the disclosure. The FBI contacted him in 2020, he said. He visited the site with a crew from Fox News and ground penetrating radar equipment in November 2020. The radar detected shapes that resembled barrels, he said.

The site is adjacent to what is now Interstate Waste Services, a waste collection company that for years has stored empty metal containers under the Skyway. At the end of October, workers were brutally ordered to evacuate them, said Isaac Suarez, 19, an employee last week. He saw the investigators arrive.

“They scanned the ground and found barrels,” Suarez told the site, adding that the location made sense. “If you were trying to hide someone you killed, wouldn’t you want them to be in plain sight, but not?” ”


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