WASHINGTON -- Jimmy Hoffa plotted to regain control of the Teamsters by killing Frank Fitzsimmons, but the plan backfired and Hoffa was murdered and 'dumped into the swamps,' a federally protected witness told Congress.
Charles Allen, an admitted Mafia hitman, said Hoffa enlisted him to shoot Fitzsimmons, the then union boss. He said Hoffa also planned to kill East Coast trucking boss Tony Provenzano.
Allen, now with a new identity, said the plot went awry when it was disclosed by Hoffa's foster son, Chuckie O'Brien, who he said had sided with Provenzano following a dispute with Hoffa.
The dramatic story came Tuesday during what had been expected to be a routine hearing on organized crime by the Senate Permanent Committee on Investigations.
The FBI, still investigating the unsolved disappearance of Hoffa in 1975, said it was 'aware of the information in 1979.'
Asked if they believed it was true, a spokesman said, 'We have no further comment.'
In the midst of the hearing on alleged mob control of Atlantic City, N.J., hotel workers, Allen casually mentioned he had been a bodyguard and aide to Hoffa.
Then the questions flew, and he told this story:
When Hoffa's jury-tampering sentence was commuted by President Nixon in 1971, he planned to return to the union presidency, then held by Fitzsimmons. But Fitzsimmons wouldn't withdraw, as he had agreed to, and Hoffa told Allen to shoot down Fitzsimmons in the parking lot of the union's headquarters in Washington.
Hoffa also ordered the murder of Provenzano and three others 'to put everybody in line in the Teamsters,' Allen said, speaking from behind an opaque screen to protect his new identity.
But 'Jimmy made the mistake of trusting Chuckie O'Brien,' his adopted son, Allen said. He said Hoffa wouldn't let O'Brien run for a union post in Detroit, as promised, 'and Chuckie went over to Tony's side.'
Then, Provenzano and New Jersey mobster Salvatore 'Sally Bugs' Briguglio had Hoffa 'ground up in little pieces, shipped to Florida and dumped into the swamps,' Allen said.
Provenzano is in prison for an unrelated matter, and Fitzsimmons died of cancer last year. Briguglio was killed in a gangland-style execution.
The Senate panel is probing control of the hotel and restaurant workers union in Atlantic City, N.J., by alleged new Philadelphia Mafia boss Nicodemus 'Little Nicky' Scarfo.
Scarfo invoked the Fifth Amendment 26 times Tuesday.
Today's hearings were on alleged misuse of union funds in Hawaii.
Allen said Hoffa ordered him 'directly' to kill Fitzsimmons because 'he (Hoffa) was gonna take over again.'
Allen and Joseph Salerno, another protected witness, talked about Philadelphia gang wars that resulted in an estimated 17 murders since 1980 when crime boss Angelo Bruno was slain.
Frank Gerace, president of the Atlantic City hotel and restaurant employees' union local 54, refused to answer 16 questions from the panel, which union lawyer Bernard Katz charged was engaging in 'media hypes.'
He said Gerace 'is the highest example of integrity I've encountered in 30 years in the labor movement .... I would be happy if members of the United States Senate reflected a similar example of morality.'
Subcommittee and General Accounting Office investigators testified today that a fraternal organization in Honolulu known as Unity House shielded assets of hotel and restaurant workers and Teamsters locals from the international union organizations.
GAO investigator Edward Densmore said Unity House 'has been used (as) a conduit for moving funds among union locals and several affiliated organizations' and that 'serious deficient' financial controls led to two apparent embezzlements totaling about $282,000.
Arthur Rutledge, the Hawaii labor leader who founded Unity House, testified he 'may have made some mistakes ... but I have been scrupulously honest with all funds of all entities which have been entrusted to my control.'