Thursday October 4, 2012

It was only a matter of time before another episode of "Where's Jimmy Hoffa's body" popped up. [ Authorities searched recently for remains in Michigan.] It's a running joke, good for the late-night comics, but there is an undeniable fascination with the story. All the people directly involved will be dead some day, so absolute proof will likely never be found. But as far as I'm concerned, the mystery was solved and the truth was told in a 2004 book titled " I Heard You Paint Houses" by Charles Brandt. Brandt is a former prosecutor and lawyer who conducted extensive interviews with a former high-ranking Teamster and mob killer named Frank Sheeran near the end of Sheeran's life. He makes a strong case that Sheeran - supposedly a close friend of Hoffa's - killed Hoffa on orders from the mob. The book is a sort of autobiography by Sheeran, with long excerpts from their taped conversations. He describes the hit on Hoffa in complete detail. Was Sheeran just a lying braggart trying to claim a piece of celebrity? It doesn't seem like it, but who can know for sure? If the Hoffa case interests you, I highly recommend this book. By the way, " painting a house" is mob slang for killing someone, as in splattered "paint." Another one from the book is " sending him to Australia," as in "down under." Who says gangsters don't know their geography?

ARNE WALDSTEIN Housatonic