The Chicago Syndicate: Russell Bufalino
Showing posts with label Russell Bufalino. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Russell Bufalino. Show all posts

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

I Heard You Paint Houses: Frank "The Irishman" Sheeran & Closing the Case on Jimmy Hoffa - Inspiration for the @Netflix Fiilm #TheIrishman

Soon to be a NETFLIX film directed by Martin Scorsese, starring Robert De Niro, Al Pacino, Joe Pesci and Harvey Keitel, and written by Steven Zaillian.

I Heard You Paint Houses: Frank "The Irishman" Sheeran & Closing the Case on Jimmy Hoffa, is updated with a 57-page Conclusion by the author that features new, independent corroboration of Frank Sheeran's revelations about the killing of Jimmy Hoffa, the killing of Joey Gallo and the murder of JFK, along with stories that could not be told before.

"I heard you paint houses" are he first words Jimmy Hoffa ever spoke to Frank "the Irishman" Sheeran. To paint a house is to kill a man. The paint is the blood that splatters on the walls and floors. In the course of nearly five years of recorded interviews Frank Sheeran confessed to Charles Brandt that he handled more than twenty-five hits for the mob, and for his friend Hoffa.

Sheeran learned to kill in the U.S. Army, where he saw an astonishing 411 days of active combat duty in Italy during World War II. After returning home he became a hustler and hit man, working for legendary crime boss Russell Bufalino. Eventually Sheeran would rise to a position of such prominence that in a RICO suit then-U.S. Attorney Rudy Giuliani would name him as one of only two non-Italians on a list of 26 top mob figures.

When Bufalino ordered Sheeran to kill Hoffa, the Irishman did the deed, knowing that if he had refused he would have been killed himself.

Sheeran's important and fascinating story includes new information on other famous murders including those of Joey Gallo and JFK, and provides rare insight to a chapter in American history. Charles Brandt has written a page-turner that has become a true crime classic.


Monday, July 29, 2019

Martin Scorsese's Latest Mob Movie #TheIrishman Set for World Premiere at @TheNYFF

Film at Lincoln Center announces Martin Scorsese’s The Irishman as Opening Night of the 57th New York Film Festival (September 27 – October 13), making its World Premiere at Alice Tully Hall on Friday, September 27, 2019. The Irishman will be released in select theaters and on Netflix later this year.



The Irishman is a richly textured epic of American crime, a dense, complex story told with astonishing fluidity. Based on Charles Brandt’s nonfiction book I Heard You Paint Houses: Frank 'The Irishman' Sheeran and Closing the Case on Jimmy Hoffa, it is a film about friendship and loyalty between men who commit unspeakable acts and turn on a dime against each other, and the possibility of redemption in a world where it seems as distant as the moon. The roster of talent behind and in front of the camera is astonishing, and at the core of The Irishman are four great artists collectively hitting a new peak: Joe Pesci as Pennsylvania mob boss Russell Bufalino, Al Pacino as Teamsters president Jimmy Hoffa, and Robert De Niro as their right-hand man, Frank Sheeran, each working in the closest harmony imaginable with the film’s incomparable creator, Martin Scorsese.

“The Irishman is so many things: rich, funny, troubling, entertaining and, like all great movies, absolutely singular,” said New York Film Festival Director and Selection Committee Chair Kent Jones. “It’s the work of masters, made with a command of the art of cinema that I’ve seen very rarely in my lifetime, and it plays out at a level of subtlety and human intimacy that truly stunned me. All I can say is that the minute it was over my immediate reaction was that I wanted to watch it all over again.”

“It’s an incredible honor that The Irishman has been selected as the Opening Night of the New York Film Festival. I greatly admire the bold and visionary selections that the festival presents to audiences year after year,” said Martin Scorsese. “The festival is critical to bringing awareness to cinema from around the world. I am grateful to have the opportunity to premiere my new picture in New York alongside my wonderful cast and crew.”

Campari is the exclusive spirits partner for the 57th New York Film Festival and the presenting partner of Opening Night, extending its long-standing commitment to the world of film and art.

Presented by Film at Lincoln Center, the 17-day New York Film Festival highlights the best in world cinema, featuring works from celebrated filmmakers as well as fresh new talent. The selection committee, chaired by Jones, also includes Dennis Lim, FLC Director of Programming, and Florence Almozini, FLC Associate Director of Programming.

Tickets for the 57th New York Film Festival will go on sale to the general public on September 8. Festival and VIP passes are on sale now and offer one of the earliest opportunities to purchase tickets and secure seats at some of the festival’s biggest events, including Opening Night. Support for Opening Night of the New York Film Festival benefits Film at Lincoln Center in its non-profit mission to support the art and craft of cinema.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

I Heard You Paint Houses - Updated Edition

"I Heard You Paint Houses", Updated Edition: Frank "The Irishman" Sheeran & Closing the Case on Jimmy Hoffa,” by Charles Brandt is based on the deathbed confession of a mafia hit man who claims to have killed Teamsters union leader Jimmy Hoffa on the orders of Russell Bufalino, the reputed mob boss from West Pittston.

“The book is huge. It flies off the shelves,” said Mike Ashworth, manger of Borders in Dickson City.

The book owes its resurgence to the travails of Mount Airy Casino Resort owner Louis DeNaples and his friend, diocesan priest Joseph Sica, who made headlines after indictments challenged their characterization of their relationship with Bufalino, his alleged successor William D’Elia, and others.

They won’t find direct answers in the book, which never mentions DeNaples or Sica. The book is based on the recorded deathbed confession of mafia hit man Frank Sheeran, who was a friend to both Bufalino and Teamster President Jimmy Hoffa. In the book, written by former Delaware Assistant Attorney General Charles Brandt, Sheeran admits to carrying out several hits. Most notably, Sheeran said he killed Hoffa on Bufalino’s order.

Thanks to David Falchek

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Was Jimmy Hoffa Killed by Frank "The Irishman" Sheeran

It all started, and ended, on this day nearly four decades ago.

It was a hot July afternoon, nearly 92 degrees, when Teamsters president and labor icon Jimmy Hoffa is said to have opened the rear door of a 1975 maroon Mercury in the parking lot of the Machus Red Fox restaurant, in Bloomfield Hills, Mich., and climbed in.

He was never seen again.

The FBI has expended countless resources in the ensuing decades in the hopes of finally solving this enduring American mystery with no success. But I believe, based on my 2004 investigation, that Frank Sheeran did it.

"Suspects Outside of Michigan: Francis Joseph "Frank" Sheeran, age 43, president local 326, Wilmington, Delaware. Resides in Philadelphia and is known associate of Russel Bufalino, La Cosa Nostra Chief, Eastern Pennsylvania," reads the 1976 HOFFEX memo, the compilation of everything investigators knew about Hoffa's disappearance that was prepared for a high level, secret conference at FBI headquarters six months after he vanished.

Sheeran, known as "The Irishman," told me that he drove with Hoffa to a nearby house where he shot him twice in the back of the head. Our investigation subsequently yielded the corroboration, the suspected blood evidence on the hardwood floor and down the hallway of that house, that supports Frank's story.

No one who has ever boasted about knowing what really happened to Jimmy Hoffa has had their claims tested, scrutinized, and then corroborated by independently discovered evidence... except Frank.

He is also the only one of the FBI's dozen suspects who has ever come forward and talked publicly about the killing, let alone admit involvement.

Every other claim that you have ever heard about, from Hoffa being buried in the end zone of Giants Stadium to being entombed under a strip of highway asphalt somewhere, came from people who were never on the bureau's list of people suspected of actual involvement.

For that reason, Frank stands alone.

Six weeks after Hoffa disappeared, Frank, along with the other suspects, was summoned before the Detroit grand jury investigating the case. He took the Fifth.

When I met him in the spring of 2001, Frank freely talked.

My meeting with Frank was arranged so that I could take his measure, and he mine, for a possible in-depth investigation, interview and news story about his claims. He was accompanied by his former lawyer Charlie Brandt, the author of Frank’s then-proposed biography, which tells the Hoffa story. Charlie had been able to spring Frank from a Mafia-related federal racketeering prison sentence, and for that reason was taken into Frank's confidence.

It would be three years before the book, ""I Heard You Paint Houses": Frank "The Irishman" Sheeran and the Inside Story of the Mafia, the Teamsters, and the Last Ride of Jimmy Hoffa" would be published by Steerforth Press, and before the first of my many news stories about Frank, and our investigation, would air on television.

His story is this: He and others were ordered by the Mafia to kill Hoffa to prevent him from trying to run again for the presidency of the Teamsters union. Hoffa had resigned after serving prison time for jury tampering, attempted bribery and fraud convictions. Frank picked Hoffa up at the restaurant, accompanied by two others, to supposedly drive Hoffa to a mob meeting. When they walked into the empty house together, with Frank a step behind Hoffa, he raised his pistol at point-blank range and fired two fatal shots into his unsuspecting target, turned around and left. He said the body was then dragged down the hall by two awaiting accomplices, and that he was later told Hoffa was cremated at a mob-connected funeral home.

Frank had an imposing, old-school mobster way about him that even his advanced years -- he was 80-- did not betray. His menacing aura was not diminished by a severe case of arthritis that crippled him so badly that he was hunched over when he slowly walked with two canes, struggling to put one foot in front of the other.

I found Frank tough, determined, steely.

As I listened to his matter-of-fact recounting of what he said went down at that house, and giving such detail, I remember thinking what he was saying could actually be true.

Here's why:

There is no doubt that Frank was a close confidant of Hoffa, someone who Hoffa trusted. And Hoffa didn't trust very many.

Frank was both a long-time top Teamsters Union official in Delaware as well as an admitted Bufalino crime family hit-man and top aide to the boss himself.

The FBI admits that Frank was "known to be in Detroit area at the time of JRH disappearance, and considered to be a close friend of JRH," as the HOFFEX memo states.

Hoffa's son, current Teamsters President James P. Hoffa, told me in September 2001 that his father would have gotten into the car with Frank. He said that his father would not have taken that ride with some of the other FBI suspects whom I mentioned.

Frank, in the book, says that he sat in the front passenger seat of the car as a subtle warning to Hoffa, who habitually sat there. He felt a deep friendship and loyalty to Hoffa, yet knew what his own fate would be if he failed to carry out the lethal order from his mob masters. So he sat in the front seat hoping Hoffa would realize something was wrong. He did not.

The FBI did find "a single three-inch brown hair...in the rear seat back rest" of that car that matches Hoffa, and three dogs picked up "a strong indication of JRH scents in the rear right seat."

During my interview, I asked Frank if he remembered how to get to the house. I thought finding where Hoffa was killed, and investigating everything about the house, could be key to the case. Frank rattled off the driving directions from the restaurant and described the house's interior layout.

Killers may not remember an exact address of a murder scene, but they never forget how they got there and what they did when they arrived.

"Sheeran gave us the directions," Charlie wrote in the book. "This was the first time he had ever revealed the directions to me. His deepened voice and hard demeanor was chilling, when, for the first time ever, he stated publicly to someone other than me that he had shot Jimmy Hoffa."

A year after our meeting, Charlie and Frank drove to Detroit to try to find the house, and when they did Frank pointed it out to Charlie. They did not go in.

Three years later, in 2004, I, along with producer Ed Barnes and Charlie, first stepped foot into the foyer where Frank said he shot Hoffa, looked around the first floor and as it turned out, Frank's description fit the interior to a tee.

Ed and I arranged with the homeowners to actually take up the foyer and hallway floorboards and remove the press-on vinyl floor tiles that they had put down over the original hardwood floors when they bought the house in 1989.

We hired a forensic team of retired Michigan state police investigators to try to find any blood evidence. They sprayed the chemical luminol on the floors, which homicide detectives routinely use to discover the presence of blood.

We found it.

The testing revealed a specific pattern of blood evidence, laid out like a map of clues to the nation's most infamous unsolved murder. Little yellow numbered tags were placed throughout the first floor foyer and hallway, to mark each spot where the investigators' testing yielded positive hits.

The pattern certainly told the story of how Hoffa was killed.

The greatest amount of positive hits were found right next to the front door, where Hoffa's bleeding head would have hit the floor.

Seven more tags lined the narrow hallway toward the rear kitchen, marking the drops that perfectly mimic Frank's story of Hoffa’s lifeless body being dragged to the kitchen by the two waiting accomplices, who then stuffed it into a body bag and carried it out the back kitchen door.

We arranged for the Oakland County prosecutor's office to remove the floorboards for DNA testing by the FBI, though Oakland County Prosecutor David Gorcyca cautioned that it would be "a miracle" if Hoffa's DNA was recovered.

I knew those odds. A DNA hit was beyond a long shot.

Experts told me that such tiny samples of genetic material, degraded by the passage of 29 years and exposure to air and the elements under a homeowner's heavily trafficked floor, would likely not provide enough material to result in a DNA match.

The FBI lab report says that chemical tests were conducted on 50 specimens; 28 tested positive for the possible presence of blood, and DNA was only recovered from two samples.

The FBI compared what was recovered to the DNA from a known strand of Hoffa's hair. One sample was found to be "of male origin," but it was not determined from whom. The other result was "largely inconclusive."

Was I disappointed that a DNA match was not possible? Yes. Was I surprised? No. Did I think this disproved Frank's claim? No.

Think about it.

What are the chances of any random house in America testing positive for blood traces from more than two dozen samples, in the exact pattern that corroborates a man's murder confession?

What would luminol reveal under your home's floor?

There are other reasons to believe why Frank's scenario fits.

The house was most likely empty on that fateful summer day. It was built in the 1920's and owned for five decades by a single woman, Martha Sellers, a teacher and department store employee. By the summer of 1975, Sellers was in her 80s, and not even living there full time. Her family told The Detroit News and Free Press that she had bought another home in Plymouth, Mich., where she would move permanently the next year.

In his book, Frank says that a man he called "a real estater" lived in the house. The Sellers family remembered that boarder, who they recalled resided in an upstairs bedroom. He was described as "a shadowy figure...who would disappear. He never said more than a few words and they know nothing about him, not even his name."

It is quite possible that "the real estater," was the link between the house and the Detroit mob, providing an empty house as needed, when Sellers was absent, for whatever purpose...including using it as a Mafia hit house to murder Jimmy Hoffa.

The FBI clearly believed Sheeran had credibility.  Agents visited him in his final years, in an unsuccessful attempt to secure his cooperation.

While we were conducting our investigation in Detroit in 2004, the FBI, I was told, tried to find the house even before we aired our story.

And the views of those closest to Jimmy Hoffa, his son and daughter seem especially relevant when assessing Frank's credibility.

Not only did James P. Hoffa confirm that his father would have driven off with Frank, but his sister, Hoffa's daughter, Barbara Crancer, wrote Frank a poignant letter begging him to come clean about their father's fate.

The one-page heartfelt note, handwritten to Frank on March 5, 1995, is detailed in the book.

"It is my personal belief that there are many people who called themselves loyal friends who know what happened to James R. Hoffa, who did it and why. The fact that not one of them has ever told his family -- even under a vow of secrecy, is painful to me..." Hoffa's daughter wrote.

She then underlined: "I believe you are one of those people."

Crancer confirmed to me that she wrote that letter.

Sadly for the Hoffa family, Frank never directly honored her request. When I sat with him, he said that his No. 1 priority was not to go back to "college," meaning prison. He decided that the best way to avoid that possibility, while also revealing his story, was to cooperate with Charlie for the book and to share his secrets with me for my investigation and reporting.

Frank died on Dec. 14, 2003. He was 83.

While authorities no doubt will continue to respond to more tips, as they should, I believe that we already know what happened to Jimmy Hoffa.

Frank described the most precise and credible scenario yet to be recounted, and the evidence that we found from the floor backs up his confession.

Thanks to Eric Shawn.

Thursday, September 05, 2013

"The Quiet Don: The Untold Story of Russell Bufalino, the Mob's Most Fearsome Kingpin" Investigates Former Gov. Ed Rendell's Involvement with Awarding Lucrative Casino Licenses in Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania state police ran a top-secret investigation into whether then-Gov. Ed Rendell and his administration rigged the outcome of the casino licensing process to benefit favored applicants, including a wealthy and politically connected businessman suspected of having mob ties, a new book asserts. But the probe failed to lead to criminal charges against anyone in the administration or on the state gambling board, and prosecutors blamed the state Supreme Court for thwarting the investigation, according to "The Quiet Don," a forthcoming book by Matt Birkbeck that also serves as the first full-length biography of reclusive northeastern Pennsylvania mob boss Russell Bufalino.

Birkbeck covered the troubled beginnings of Pennsylvania's casino industry as a newspaper reporter, and here he pieces together the yearslong effort by state police and local prosecutors to probe whether corruption was involved in the awarding of the lucrative casino licenses.

The narrative emerges from interviews with dozens of participants, including now-retired Lt. Col. Ralph Periandi, the No. 2 official in the Pennsylvania State Police.

Periandi initiated the probe in 2005 because he suspected that "Rendell, members of his administration and others in state government might be trying to control the new gaming industry in Pennsylvania," Birkbeck writes.

Rendell did not return a call for comment. He has long denied any impropriety.

The book follows Periandi and his small, secret "Black Ops" team of covert investigators as they dig into the gambling board, the Rendell administration and Louis DeNaples, a powerful northeastern Pennsylvania businessman who'd been awarded a casino license despite questions about his suitability.

DeNaples was eventually charged with perjury in January 2008 for allegedly lying to state gambling regulators about whether he had connections to Bufalino - the titular "quiet don" - and other mob figures. Prosecutors later dropped the charges in an agreement that required DeNaples to turn over Mount Airy Casino Resort to his daughter. DeNaples has long denied any ties to the mob.

Dauphin County District Attorney Ed Marsico agreed to the DeNaples deal because "the Supreme Court had interfered in his case twice already, and he feared that no matter what he did, the court would see to it that the DeNaples prosecution would never move forward," Birkbeck writes.

The author said investigators "basically stepped on a bee's nest" when they went after DeNaples.

Chief Justice Ronald Castille did not return a call placed to his office. He has rejected similar allegations about Supreme Court interference in the gambling industry as ludicrous, slanderous and irresponsible.

"The Quiet Don" traces Bufalino's ascent to mob boss, including his role in organizing the infamous 1957 meeting of Mafia leaders in Apalachin, N.Y., his control of the garment industry in New York and Philadelphia, and his control of the Teamsters union and its leader, Jimmy Hoffa.

The book asserts that it was Bufalino who ordered a hit on Hoffa, a claim also made in the 2004 Mafia memoir "I Heard You Paint Houses," in which confessed mob hitman Frank Sheeran said he killed Hoffa on Bufalino's say-so. Hoffa disappeared in 1975; his body has never been found.

What's new here is the reason: Birkbeck writes Bufalino was upset by a 1975 Time magazine article that linked him, for the first time, to the CIA's attempts to enlist the Mafia to kill Cuban leader Fidel Castro, and he feared Hoffa would tell Senate investigators what he knew about the failed plot.

Saturday, October 04, 2008

Martin Scorsese to Direct Robert DeNiro as Mob Assassin Frank "The Irishman" Sheeran

Paramount Pictures is plotting a return to organized crime for Martin Scorsese and Robert De Niro. Studio has set Steve Zaillian to adapt "I Heard You Paint Houses," the book about the mob assassin who many believe was involved in the death of Teamster boss Jimmy Hoffa.

Scorsese is attached to direct. De Niro will play Frank "the Irishman" Sheeran, who is reputed to have carried out more than 25 mob murders. Pic will be produced by Scorsese and Tribeca partners De Niro and Jane Rosenthal. Project landed at Paramount through the overall deal that the studio has with Scorsese’s Sikelia Prods.

Pic’s title refers to mob slang for contract killings, and the resulting blood splatter on walls and floors. Book was written by Charles Brandt, who befriended Sheeran shortly before the latter’s death in 2003. Among the crimes Sheeran confessed to Brandt, according to the 2004 book, was the killing and dismemberment of Hoffa, carried out on orders from mob boss Russell Bufalino.

Zaillian most recently scripted the Frank Lucas crime saga "American Gangster" and was a co-writer of the Scorsese-directed "Gangs of New York." Scorsese also brought in Zaillian to script "Schindler’s List," before turning over the project to Steven Spielberg and instead directing De Niro in "Cape Fear." Zaillian won an Oscar for his "Schindler’s List" script.

Scorsese just completed a screen adaptation of the Dennis Lehane novel "Shutter Island" for Paramount with Leonardo DiCaprio. He’s in the midst of settling on his next directing project, with "Silence," "The Wolf of Wall Street" and "The Long Play" at the top of his list.

De Niro has wrapped the Kirk Jones-directed "Everybody’s Fine" with Sam Rockwell, Kate Beckinsale and Drew Barrymore. He’s also plotting a re-team with "Heat" director Michael Mann on "Frankie Machine," an adaptation of the Don Winslow novel that is also at Paramount.

Thanks to Michael Flemming

Friday, November 14, 2003

Organized Crime and "Joe's Barbecue"

Friends of ours: Joseph Bonanano, Russell Bufalino, Carlo Gambino, Vito Genovese, Antonio Magaddino, Joseph Proface, John Scalish, Santos Traficante

Forty-six years ago today (11/14/1957), an unusual group gathered at the rural estate of a soft drink bottler in Appalachin, a small town just west of Binghamton, New York. Mr. Joseph Barbara was supposedly hosting a "soft drink convention" that day.

Sergeant Edgar Croswell of the New York State Police was intensely interested in the gathering. He'd observed suspected criminals at the house before and was suspicious. With smoke rising from Barbara's grill, Croswell and Trooper Vincent Vasisko openly began to take down the license plate numbers of luxury cars jammed in the driveway.

Suddenly Barbara’s guests noticed…and panicked. Some fled to the woods; others dashed for their cars. Sergeant Croswell ordered an immediate roadblock and soon had detained 62 guests in order to check their identification; among them, Joseph Bonanano, Russell Bufalino, Carlo Gambino, Vito Genovese, Antonio Magaddino, Joseph Proface, John Scalish, and Santos Traficante.

A veritable Who’s Who of what we now call the "Mob," the "Mafia," or "La Cosa Nostra."

Croswell’s important detective work exploded nationally. Concerns had been expressed that a secret network of connected criminal enterprises existed. But many, including FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover, had disagreed. They said crime was a serious problem, but there was no evidence that a conspiratorial web linked racketeers across the country.

Now there was evidence. Hoover got to work, ordering his field executives to develop maximum information on crime bosses in their areas of jurisdiction. This "Top Hoodlum Program" produced a wealth of information about organized crime activities. In a 1960 Letter to All Law Enforcement Officials, Hoover wryly commented: "If we must, let us learn a lesson from the barons of the underworld who have shown that cooperative crime is profitable – cooperative law enforcement can be twice as effective."

But the Bureau needed legislative tools to get past the small time crooks and connect them with those barons. Congress powerfully delivered, with illegal gambling laws that unlocked mafia financial networks and with laws like the Omnibus Crime Control Act of 1968 and the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act of 1970. Soon, major cases like UNIRAC, BRILAB, and Pizza Connection led to the prosecution and jailing of top crime lords across the country. Then, in 1987, Judge Richard Owen of the Southern District of New York, sentenced the top leadership of five New York City "families" to 100 years each in prison for working together as a single enterprise. The "Commission Case" effectively broke the stranglehold of traditional organized crime in the U.S.

Today new organized crime syndicates operate on a global stage, and the FBI is working effectively with its international partners to dismantle them, piece by piece.

Thanks to the FBI

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