The FBI is expected to soon commence a dig for the remains of legendary labor leader Jimmy Hoffa, where it is claimed he was buried in a barrel after being killed in Detroit July 30, 1975.
The chances that the remains of Hoffa, the onetime president of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, are under the industrial dirt of Jersey City, New Jersey, are actually very good, observers say.
They cite a single reason: “Tony Pro.”
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Anthony “Tony Pro” Provenzano was a much-feared capo in the Genovese crime family and top Teamsters official who headed north Jersey’s Teamsters Local 560, located in nearby Union City. He died in prison at the age of 71 in 1988, convicted in a previous union-related murder. He was one of the FBI’s original Hoffa suspects and is considered the organizer of the Hoffa disappearance and murder, described as a psychopathic killer who would take vengeance on anyone who would cross him.
“Tony Pro,” and the plot to kill Hoffa, is the focus of the fifth episode of “Riddle, The Search for James R. Hoffa,” now streaming on Fox Nation. The show tells the story of the personal feud between Hoffa and “Tony Pro,” and examines the possibility that Hoffa is buried in a barrel at the New Jersey site.
“There’s very few guys that the legend carried on after they were gone, and Tony Pro is famous for that,” says Giovanni Rocco.
Rocco went undercover in the last decade as part of an FBI task force into New Jersey’s DeCavalcante crime family, and his work led to several convictions. He details his exploits as an up-and-coming mob associate named Giovanni Gatto in his book, “Giovanni’s Ring, My Life Inside the Real Sopranos.”
“The simple rumors of what happened with Hoffa and then being in jail and Hoffa taking his pension away. That’s a huge pension for a guy like Tony, you know, to lose. That’s everything for him,” Rocco said. “Having knowing the intimate details on my end of how it takes place and how do you want me to let you know? You know, a simple phone call, it could be a simple phone call. Or it could be if I hate you that much, I want to see it. Better yet, I want to be the guy to do it. Better yet, I want to be there. I want to watch him. Better yet, when you do it, I want him to be looking in my eyes. I want his soul to be looking at me when the lights go out. That’s the mentality of these guys.”
It was known that “Tony Pro” and Hoffa hated one another. There were reports that they had a fistfight while incarcerated at the Lewisburg, Pennsylvania, federal penitentiary. “Tony Pro” vowed to kill Hoffa and his grandchildren. The beef was said to be about a $1 million pension that Hoffa refused to give to “Tony Pro,” because he was a convicted felon.
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“I’ve seen guys kill for much less,” Rocco said.
Hoffa was also attempting to regain the presidency of the Teamsters and it would make trouble for the mob if he took over.
The FBI was told by an informant, Ralph Picardo, a member of “Tony Pro’s” New Jersey mob crew, that Hoffa’s body was stuffed inside a 55-gallon drum, put on a trailer truck and driven to New Jersey, where it was probably dumped in a mob-connected toxic waste dump under the Pulaski Skyway in Jersey City.
That dump, PJP Landfill, was known as “Moscato’s dump,” a reference to co-owner Phil “Brother” Moscato, a top-level mobster in the Genovese family. It was his son, Phil Moscato, Jr., who told Fox Nation that Hoffa’s body was brought back to the state from Detroit.
Frank Cappola, the son of the dump’s other owner, businessman Paul Cappola, Sr., claimed that it was his father who actually buried Hoffa in a steel barrel, 12 feet down, under the Skyway, in a spot just across the property line from Moscato’s dump. The land, directly under the elevated highway, was never searched by authorities because it was not a part of the dump.
“He couldn’t fit in the drum body first, feet first. They had to turn him and put him in head first,” Frank Cappola told Fox Nation in a 2019 interview, just months before his death. He said he was doing “the right thing” after all these years because of what his father once told him.
“My father said, ‘I want this man to go home to his family. He needs to go back home.’ He was a great, good man and my father respected him,'” Cappola said.
Cappola came forward after his brother, Paul, Jr., watched a segment I was anchoring on the Fox News Channel about our Fox Nation “Riddle” series with author Dan Moldea, who was working with me as part of our Fox Nation investigation.
After Cappola told his story to Moldea and to me, we zeroed in on the site, and Fox Nation conducted a ground-penetrating radar survey of the small plot of land under the Skyway where Cappola claimed his father buried Hoffa. That examination revealed, as Cappola had promised, what appears to be multiple drums buried on top of each other exactly as he had described burying Hoffa in a barrel.
In October 2021, the FBI conducted its own survey of the site and said the next step would be waiting for its analysis.
The Detroit office of the FBI, which has jurisdiction over the Hoffa investigation, issued a statement last fall to Fox News that stated, in part: “The FBI obtained a search warrant to conduct a site survey underneath the Pulaski Skyway. On October 25 and 26, FBI from the Newark and Detroit field offices completed the survey and that data is currently being analyzed.”
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FBI Special Agent Joe Brennan, who was an organized crime supervisor in New Jersey’s FBI office in the 1970s, said the bureau was told Hoffa did end up in New Jersey on “Tony Pro’s” orders.
“He wanted to see the body,” Brennan said in a 2013 interview. “We were told that Hoffa was grabbed, killed there (Detroit) and brought back to New Jersey for Provenzano to personally verify that he was dead.”
Rocco said “Tony Pro” very well could have done just that, ordering Hoffa to be buried on his turf as a message – and a way to claim control over him even in death.
“The way they kill a guy is a message,” Rocco said, and there’d be no better way to claim victory over Jimmy Hoffa than by driving by him every day.
“A trophy. Bring him here,” Rocco said of that thinking. “There he is, that’s where he still sits. And as you ride by, you give the finger and in that life, it sounds crazy, but that’s what they do.”
In an interview in the early 1980s for a British documentary, the mob informant and former member of “Tony Pro’s” crew, Ralph Picardo, described him as “a ruthless, self-educated, cunning schizophrenic. He always treated ambitious people with the ambition which direction to his benefit, and not as people that were trying to take over his power, his domain. He had them killed.”
“Tony Pro” and several of the reputed members of his New Jersey-based crew were all listed as suspects in the Hoffa murder by the FBI. “Tony Pro” pleaded the Fifth when called before the grand jury investigating Hoffa’s disappearance in the fall of 1975.
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And it turned out another possible motive for “Tony Pro” wanting Hoffa gone came from Philadelphia mob hit-man Charlie Allen, in U.S. Senate testimony in 1982. He told the Senate Subcommittee on Investigations that Hoffa planned to rub out “Tony Pro” and several others, including his successor, Teamsters President Frank Fitzsimmons, before they could get him.
Sen. Sam Nunn, D-Ga., asked Allen, “Hoffa was going to kill both Tony Pro and Frank Fitzsimmons?”
Allen replied, “There was going to be three other fellows too.”
“Provenzano got tipped off. And the way it’s described is that somebody in that small circle of co-conspirators tipped off the other side, what was going to happen. And then that’s what created what later turned into the death of Jimmy Hoffa,” said retired Philadelphia lawyer Glenn Zeitz.
Zeitz represented a who’s who of mobsters over decades, including the late Philadelphia Mob Boss Ralph Natale, when he testified in front of a Senate committee on organized crime. He told Fox Nation that Allen’s testimony shows ‘Tony Pro” was in a position to strike Hoffa before Hoffa could kill him, and that Charlie Allen was a key part of that murder conspiracy.
“He was put in a position where he was working with others to dispose of Jimmy Hoffa, that’s the best way that I could put it,” Zeitz said. “There were two teams, you could call a Team A and Team B, but it’s not like football. It’s like you just don’t win the game. One team is going to get eradicated.”
Allen told the Committee that Hoffa’s remains were chopped up and dumped in a Florida swamp.
Another indication that ‘Tony Pro” handled Hoffa’s murder is the revelation from Hoffa’s once-close aide and confidant, Chuckie O’Brien. O’Brien said that the order to kill Hoffa came “from New York,” meaning either the Mafia Commission or the Genovese Crime Family okayed the hit and that “‘Tony Pro’ had “a lot to do with it.”
O’Brien’s admissions about “Tony Pro’s” involvement were revealed in the recent book “Hoffa’s Shadow: A Step-father, a Disappearance and My Search for the Truth” by O’Brien’s step-son, Jack Goldsmith. Goldsmith is a respected Harvard University Law professor and former assistant U.S. attorney general in the George W. Bush administration. The information backs up the theory that the assignment was given to “Tony Pro,” who then could presumably order underlings to bring the body to his turf in northern New Jersey to remain forever.
The U.S. Department of Environmental Protection and local officials cleaned up the dump in the 1980s, but the engineer who Jersey City put in charge of the operation, Mario Verdibello, told Fox Nation he thought the site pinpointed by Frank Cappola may not have been examined.
“We heard all sorts of rumors that Jimmy Hoffa might be buried here,” said Verdibello. He is now a board member of the plan to transform part of the former dump into a public park that will serve as a memorial to the residents of Jersey City who died from COVID-19.
“They stopped us when we started digging,” he recalled, saying it’s “quite possible” that the barrels that Cappola said were buried at the spot by his father were still there. “It doesn’t take much to bury a drum and leave it there.”
It has been several months since the FBI visited the site examined by Fox Nation, but the truth will only come when the bureau puts up the evidence tape, brings out a digger and starts removing the dirt and soil that has been covering what we found under the Pulaski Skyway. They may discover what Frank Cappola claimed is there or just scraps of rusted barrels that were never removed.
Some longtime Hoffa experts and others doubt that the Mob would have driven Hoffa 600 miles to New Jersey and would have easily disposed of his remains in the Motor City. But those who are convinced Hoffa is buried in New Jersey, insist that doubters are discounting the fearsome “Tony Pro.”
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It is now up to the FBI to find out.
Watch all five episodes of “Riddle: The Search for James R. Hoffa” on our streaming service, Fox Nation.
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