Jimmy Hoffa, the Irishman, the Mafia, and the Assassination of President John F. Kennedy

“The Irishman,” the Martin Scorsese film starring Robert De Niro, Al Pacino, and Joe Pesci, did well in the Oscar nominations: best picture, best director, Pacino and Pesci as best supporting actors, and best adapted screenplay.

The movie was adapted from Charles Brandt’s book, I Heard You Paint Houses, which chronicles the life of Frank Sheeran, a Teamsters Union official who confesses to crimes he committed while working for Jimmy Hoffa and the Bufalino crime family.

The film’s drama centers on Sheeran’s rise in the Teamsters, the union’s mob connections, and the final scenes when Sheeran, directed by Bufalino, kills Hoffa with two shots to the back of the head. (The paint in the book’s title is the blood that spatters on the floor and the walls of the room when someone is shot in the back of the head.)

Not mentioned in the Scorsese movie is this excerpt from the I Heard You Paint Houses book that adds to the speculation of why President John F. Kennedy was killed on November 22, 1963: Hoffa and the mafia hated Bobby Kennedy, who was going after Hoffa and the Teamsters and its mob connections. One way to stop Bobby, they decided, was to kill JFK.

The consensus reached in the discussion was that if something happened to Bobby, Jack would unleash the dogs. But if something happened to Jack, Vice President Lyndon Johnson would become the president, and it was no secret that Lyndon hated Bobby. Lyndon, it was agreed, would get rid of Bobby as attorney general. According to Frank Ragano’s recollection, Jimmy Hoffa said, “Damn right he would. He hates him as much as I do.”

A few months later, on Tuesday July 23, 1963, four months before President Kennedy was assassinated, Ragano claims to have been meeting with Hoffa about the new indictments that had recently been handed down in May and June. Hoffa was besides himself with rage. According to Ragano he was told by Jimmy Hoffa: “Something has to be done. The time has come for  our friends Santo [Trafficante] and Carlos [Marcello] to get rid of them, kill that son-of-a-bitch John Kennedy. This has got to be done. Be sure to tell them what I said. No more fucking around. We’re running out of time—something has to be done.”


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