Sheeran's Daughter: 'My Father Killed Jimmy Hoffa'

Frank Sheeran once claimed that, when he got the order to assassinate his mentor, Jimmy Hoffa, he knew he had no choice but to do what he was told.... It was kill on command or die for disobedience.

Frank The Irishman Sheeran with union boss Hoffa.
Frank The Irishman' Sheeran (right) with union boss Hoffa.

The disappearance of Teamsters union leader Hoffa 36 years ago remains one of America's most enduring mysteries. To this day, no one knows where his body ended up or what was done to it.

And if not for Sheeran's Catholic guilt at the end of his life and a tenacious former prosecutor turned crime writer, the story of how Hoffa died would never have been known either. So posits I Heard You Paint Houses, a true-crime memoir about Sheeran, aka The Irishman.

Martin Scorsese and Robert De Niro are set to bring Sheeran's extraordinary life to the big screen.

The Irishman initially was also to cover Sheeran's alleged role in the assassination of American President John F. Kennedy.

For Sheeran's daughter Dolores Miller, 55, the interest in her father is bittersweet. "I suspected my father was behind Jimmy's death but I never asked him directly. My mother disagreed. She said he and Jimmy were as thick as thieves but my gut instinct told me otherwise."

Dolores Miller
Dolores Miller

The year before, when I was 19, there was a big benefit party for my father. There must have been 1,000 people there, including Jimmy. One of my father's most cherished possessions was a gaudy gold and diamond watch Jimmy gave him. He wore it to the day he died.

I remember my father phoning to say Jimmy had disappeared from outside a restaurant in Detroit.

I asked him where he had been and he said a wedding in the same area. I made a comment about the coincidence but he brushed it off.

He was among the top suspects and the FBI put him in prison time and again, hoping he'd crack. But he never did.

Then towards the end of his life he told me he wanted absolution. I remember saying he had to be truly sorry for the things he'd done in the past, that if he had his time again he wouldn't do the things he'd done.

He said he was sorry and I drove him to the church to confess. He seemed much happier after that.

In his last five years, Sheeran poured his heart out to writer Charles Brandt, then died in 2003, at age 83, six weeks after reading the finished manuscript.

Sheeran never revealed to his family what he'd done.

Brandt told them to read the book.

"... as I turned every page it got worse. It was awful. I didn't want it to be true that my father killed Jimmy."

Despite her shock, Dolores knew her father wasn't a saint.

In the 1980s then-US attorney Rudy Giuliani named Sheeran as one of only two non-Italians on the Fed's list of 26 top mobsters.

Sheeran grew up in the Great Depression in the tough Philadelphia suburb of Darby. His parents were devoutly religious Irish-Americans.

At 17, Sheeran lied about his age to serve in the war. He fought under General George S. Patton.

He returned to Pennsylvania, drove a truck and married Mary, an Irish immigrant. Daughters Mary Anne, Peggy and Dolores were born in the following years.

Dolores was 5 when she developed her first key memory of her father. "My mother told him to take me to see Mary Poppins but instead he took me to The Valentine's Day Massacre."

She was 6 when my parents first separated. That's when he met Mafia boss Russell Bufalino and changed, her mother once told her.

"Bufalino was a nasty, mean man but my father started doing odd jobs for him. It's only now that we know what some of those jobs were."

Sheeran and Mary formally divorced when Dolores was 12. His second wife, Irene, bore Sheeran another daughter, Connie.

We saw him at weekends and he was always loving. But we could never tell him about our problems because of what he would do. My sister once knocked something over in a store and was bawled at by the owner.

My father went round and broke the owner's hands. I was being bullied and my father dragged me out to find the bully.

Family man: Frank (left) adored his daughters.

I begged to go home and was so grateful we couldn't find the boy for fear of what my father would do to his father.

It was the same with the local flasher - God only knows what he would have done to him if I'd told him. My father wanted to protect us because his world was unsafe.

I was nine when it came on the TV news that my father had been sent to prison.

No one in the house said a word until I blurted out, "Why's Daddy gone to prison?" I think that's when I got my first inkling that what he did for a living wasn't kosher.'

Years later, Sheeran - who was 6ft 4in, with a fair Irish complexion -- would tell Brandt how he completed hits. 'I look like a broken down truck driver with a cap on, coming to use the bathroom.

'I don't look like a mafia shooter,' he said, explaining how he murdered Joseph 'Crazy Joe' Gallo at Umberto's Clam House in New York's Little Italy.

Gallo's death - in front of his wife and young daughter - remained a mystery until Sheeran confessed to Brandt.

'I know now Dad had no choice but to kill his friend Jimmy Hoffa'

He also told how IRA man John 'The Redhead' Francis drove the getaway car, explaining how mobsters were given different tasks during a hit so that no one knew the entire details.

'If one person did everything, they'd be shot afterwards to keep them quiet. So everyone had a role without anyone else knowing. It meant there wouldn't be a massacre afterwards,' Sheeran told Brandt, a former Delaware prosecutor.

Brandt called his book I Heard You Paint Houses - the first words Hoffa uttered to Sheeran. The phrase was mob slang for a killer - as in splattering blood over floors and walls.

Sheeran replied that he was also a carpenter - mafia-speak for someone who disposes of bodies.

Hoffa was a working-class icon who turned the Teamster union into a nationwide movement before falling from grace and going to jail for racketeering.

He was pardoned by President Richard Nixon and was making his comeback when he was summoned to a meeting with two mafia dons on July 30, 1975.

His abandoned car was found outside the Detroit restaurant and no trace of him has been found since.

There are many theories about why the mob wanted Hoffa dead.

One suggests that the Teamsters' pension fund had been supporting mafia projects such as building in Las Vegas and the mob was afraid Hoffa's bid to take over the union would lead to funds drying up.

It is thought JFK's assassination was a way to placate Hoffa - as Bobby Kennedy was closing in on him with racketeering charges. Some within the mafia believed Hoffa wasn't grateful enough for the intervention

It is also thought that JFK's assassination was a way to placate Hoffa - as the president's brother, attorney general Bobby Kennedy, was closing in on him with further racketeering charges.

Some within the mafia believed Hoffa wasn't grateful enough for the intervention.

Sheeran told Brandt how he lured Hoffa into an empty house and shot him twice in the back of the head. A second mafia hit squad disposed of the body.

'The Irish FBI guy Bob Garrity wrote a memo about the chief suspects - Sheeran's name was always there,' Brandt, 68, says.

'But no one could prove it. I met Sheeran when the mafia hired me to get him out of jail. He was 74 and in poor health. I got him out on medical grounds and we sat down for a chat.

'He invited me to a mob trial - this wasn't in the book and De Niro and Scorsese were fascinated by it when we met to discuss the script.

'Two mobsters owed Sheeran money and there was a mafia civil court. Sheeran let me listen in, then we went back to my house and started talking. It was 1991 and he had a lot to get off his chest.

'He wanted me to write his book then but backed out because many of the characters were still alive. Then eight years later he approached me again.

'We spent five years going through everything. I used to be a prosecutor and I kept cross-examining him. I checked and double-checked everything he told me.

'My mother told him to take me to see Mary Poppins but instead he took me to The Valentine's Day Massacre'

'He was actually a very likeable man. My wife said she used to have to pinch herself to remind herself he was a hitman. He was full of Irish charm, very intelligent and witty.'

But he adds: 'Sometimes I'd get chills as I checked out his stories.'

Brandt goes on: 'Hoffa was Sheeran's friend but you didn't defy orders. If he hadn't killed him he'd have been shot himself. He said the mafia was upset because Hoffa hadn't shown enough gratitude over Dallas.

'I realised he was talking about the assassination of President Kennedy in 1963. It was always rumoured that the killer, Lee Harvey Oswald, wasn't working alone and that the mob was behind it.

'So I asked Sheeran and his face turned to stone, he raised his right hand at me and just brushed me off, saying "I'm not going anywhere near Dallas".

'I was sure he had something to do with it and kept asking. It was a classic mob hit - Oswald thought he would get away, but Jack Ruby then killed him.

'Eventually Sheeran admitted to taking three rifles to Baltimore - he understood these had then gone to Dallas. I didn't get anything more juicy than that but when I told De Niro and Scorsese they were fascinated.

'We met with the scriptwriter around 5pm and we were still talking at 9.30pm.

It was a real thrill that they wanted to know all the background, all the stuff that wasn't in the book.'

One of Sheeran's final acts was to read the manuscript of Brandt's book. By now wheelchair-bound and a widower, Brandt recalls: 'He held the pages up in front of a video recorder, said everything in the book was true, then stopped eating. Six weeks later he was dead.'

Sheeran gave daughter Dolores power of attorney, explaining he didn't want to be force-fed - he had no intention of living once his mind started to falter.

After his death, Dolores and her husband Michael cleared out Sheeran's apartment and discovered the extent of his passion for clothes.

He was always dressed like something out of Gentlemen's Quarterly, Dolores says.

He had 200 designer suits, 100 pairs of shoes. Then there was his jewelry...

I know now that he killed his friend Jimmy,' Dolores says. 'He had no choice, he was acting on orders. If he hadn't done it, he would have been killed.

My father lived to a great age. Most of his associates died horrible early deaths. I am eternally grateful he didn't die like that.

He chose his own time to go after confessing to his sins.



  2. No Sheeran had nothing to do with the Hoffa Hit. One of two guys who killed Hoffa was killed the night after Hoffa went missing, he was killed in Little Italy by the CIA.

  3. The Hit on Hoffa was the work of Tony Pro and his guys, Hoffa is buried on a Farm that is true, not sure if it is in Detroit Ohio of New York State, A Friend of mine was good friends with Tony Pro and best friends with one of the hit man who killed Hoffa He was killed in Little Italy the night after they killed Hoffa by the CIA.

  4. The Irishman wrote truth to ignorence. he knew only he could get the drop on Jimmy. He also knew the rules, he chose life over death, his only choice. Yonnie and Petr took care of the body. It went to two for Bagnasco's.
    Bobby D playing the Irishman is miscasting--- but the story compelling.

  5. A couple of your comments are right on point. Sheeran led Hoffa to the slaughter, but didn't fire the gun. The shooter got clipped downtown. Sheeran also claimed he killed Joe Gallo, which is 100% bullshit.

  6. Sonny;
    The only thing authentic is your name.
    Luperelli fed Uncle Sam a line of BS on Sonny Pinto regarding Gallo. The girl at the Times ID'D Sheeran to Brandt as the shooter. Plus Jon Francis confirmed the story before he died, as part of his efforts to die at home.
    Tony Pro, and the Local 560 crew, played a role in Jimmy's demise. Tony set it up and provided the cleanup. Yonnie disposed of the body through a funeral home in St. Claire Shores.But Tony did not have the standing to order the hit, nor Jimmy's trust to get close. Jimmy was wired into Republican politicians and the real decision makers in the underworld. There were only a few men capable of safely navigating those waters. men who controlled vast sums of money AND large blocks of votes.
    Doing Jimmy was a decision not made lightly, and ordered only after the true powers concluded he no longer would be reasonable. Once decided it was understood that it would take a huge betrayal, by a lifelong friend, to get the deed done. Jimmy knew what Pro was. He also knew what Pro wanted. Jimmy's security came in the belief Pro would never get permission to act.Two close confidants, Russell and Frank, betrayed their friend, against that betrayal Jimmy had no protection

  7. I find interesting that, according to the Paint Houses book, "New York had turned [the hit on Hoffa] down." They didn't sanction or oppose it. Detroit and Chicago were in on it. Tony Salerno was told of the hit after it happened, to make sure no loose ends needed fixing. If he had sanctioned it, you bet your ass he wouldn't have had to be told about it after the fact; he would've known.

  8. The Fat Man did not have to know. benny Squint or Funzuala would have given the thumbs up to Russell and Acardo. This hit was all about the Central States Pension fund and its' use in Vegas.

  9. All you experts...none of ya know squat. Frank did it...too bad that more couldn't be said about dallas. Because some, though old, are still alive.


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