Friday, April 10, 2009

Professor Seeks Hoffa Records

Professor seeking sealed Jimmy Hoffa case records
CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (AP) — The government's hard-won conviction of Jimmy Hoffa on jury-tampering charges is under assault 45 years later.
A retired law professor has persuaded a federal judge to consider unsealing secret grand jury records to set the historical record straight. William L. Tabac wants to prove his theory that the Justice Department — then led by Hoffa's nemesis, Robert Kennedy — used illegal wiretaps and improper testimony to indict the Teamsters leader.
"I think there is prosecutorial misconduct in the case, which included the prosecutors who prosecuted it and the top investigator for the Kennedy Department of Justice," Tabac said.
James Neal, the special prosecutor who convicted Hoffa in 1964 in Chattanooga, calls the claim "baloney."
But the petition from Tabac, who taught at Cleveland State University and has been gripped by the Hoffa case since his days as a law clerk, will be heard Monday in a Nashville courtroom.
To prepare for the hearing, Chief U.S. District Court Judge Todd J. Campbell ordered the Justice Department, FBI and other agencies to turn over any sealed records from the Hoffa grand jury related to testimony by investigator Walter Sheridan, wiretapping or electronic eavesdropping.
It's yet another post-mortem look into the affairs of the controversial trade union leader, whose career, disappearance and presumed death continue to spawn conspiracy theories decades later.
The special grand jury convened in 1963 after the federal government had failed for the fourth time to convict Hoffa of corruption charges while he led the Teamsters. The grand jury indicted Hoffa on charges of jury tampering in a Nashville case that accused Hoffa of taking payoffs from trucking companies but ended in mistrial.
A jury in Chattanooga found Hoffa and three co-defendants guilty. Hoffa, later convicted in Chicago of fraud and conspiracy, continued as Teamsters president even as he served four years in prison until stepping aside and getting his sentence commuted by President Richard Nixon in 1971.
Multiple reports describe open animosity between Hoffa and Kennedy, who investigated Hoffa while in the Senate and as attorney general.
Tabac contends the indictment may have been based only or in part on the testimony of Walter Sheridan, a Kennedy special assistant who headed the investigation. Sheridan's testimony "was, in effect, Kennedy's," said Tabac.
"Even during the Cuban missile crisis he (Kennedy) was in touch with Nashville all the time," Tabac said. "I believe he testified to the grand jury through his top aide and I believe it was wrong, especially if that is the basis on which he (Hoffa) was indicted."
Tabac (TAY'-bak) also thinks Edward Grady Partin, a Teamsters official and Hoffa confidant who testified for the prosecution, may have worn a concealed microphone to record conversations with Hoffa and those were heard by the grand jurors.
Kennedy was assassinated in 1968, Partin died in 1990 and Sheridan, who wrote the 1972 book "The Fall and Rise of Jimmy Hoffa," died in 1995. Tabac says only the grand jury records can reveal what happened.
Federal prosecutors oppose Tabac's petition, saying it doesn't meet Supreme Court standards for lifting grand jury secrecy.
Hoffa was last seen in July 1975 in suburban Detroit, where he was supposed to meet with a New Jersey Teamsters boss and a Detroit Mafia captain.
Hoffa was declared legally dead but his body has never been found, spawning innumerable theories about his demise. Among them: He was entombed in concrete at Giants Stadium in New Jersey, ground up and thrown in a Florida swamp or obliterated in a mob-owned fat-rendering plant. The search has continued into this decade, under a backyard pool north of Detroit in 2003, under the floor of a Detroit home in 2004 and at a horse farm in 2006.
Neal, a fledgling lawyer when Kennedy chose him to prosecute Hoffa, said the government did nothing illegal.
"Apparently, he (Tabac) thinks if he got the grand jury material he would see that we obtained evidence by wiretaps. It's baloney," Neal said.
Even if Tabac can prove his theory, it's unclear if that would lead to overturning the conviction.
"The problem is just that everyone is dead, so it is pretty hard to do," Tabac said. "If there is perjured testimony, I think the relatives may have standing to bring some kind of ... name-clearing procedure."


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jimmy Hoffa might have done some good/great things over the years for the good of the workers, however:

He did tamper with jurors among other things. I personally knew one of the gentlemen who was directly involved in the wiretapping effort, a former Detroit Policeman in the Radio division and life long friend of our family. This Detroit Policeman died a few years back in quiet retirement in Florida at an old age, and still sharp by all accounts.

I was a young fly on the wall at the time of Hoffa's prosecution. This former Detroit Policeman in a joint effort with the Feds was very adamant, looking my father directly in the eyes and stating that "yes he did all that and more." They both caught sight of me peeking around the corner and abruptly stopped talking as my dad took the Detroit Policeman's hat and coat and put it in the entryway closet.

Bobby Kennedy sometime later pulled our life long family friend and his wife (a red haired beauty) aside and told him "not to worry."

I will be bookmarking this site...

January 7, 2010 11:18 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The professor should do some research on the following laws enacted long after surveillance was done on Hoffa:

Public law 90-351
90th Congress, H.R. 5037
June 19, 1968
"Omnibus Crime Control and Safe Streets Acts"

Which was widely known to Private Investigators and Law enforcement.

FCC Part 2, subpart H which was amended in 1966:

2.701 [nothing was mentioned about warrants]

FCC Part 15, subpart A which was amended in 1966:

15.11 [nothing was mentioned about warrants]

As I stated in an earlier post; I'll be bookmarking this site.

January 8, 2010 8:37 AM  
Blogger Debra Conway said...

Thanks for following the blog.

You should forward your info to the professor and maybe start a dialogue with him. Debra

January 8, 2010 9:53 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks Debra Conway, I thought about it and I think that I could offer some interesting tidbits of information.

I'll leave you and others with this question:

Why on earth would a responsible Union Official [or business leader for that matter] engage in clandestine meetings with notorious mob figures and attempt to break bread with them?

Even if you discount my family's life long friend's words and discount Bobby Kennedy (a good man by the way), I think my question above pretty much speaks volumes on the guilt of Jimmy Hoffa.

January 9, 2010 6:56 PM  

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