Hoffa's Dismembered Body Buried in Meadowlands: Playboy Interview
Sep. 20, 1989
CHICAGO (AP) _ A self-described free-lance hitman says in Playboy magazine that former Teamsters leader Jimmy Hoffa was shot and dismembered in a Mafia house and buried near the end zone in Giants Stadium in New Jersey.
Donald ''Tony the Greek'' Frankos, a federally protected witness in the forthcoming New York trial of alleged organized-crime boss John Gotti, describes in graphic detail the method he says was used to kill Hoffa.
In an interview in the November issue of Playboy, Frankos claims he told the FBI in 1986 that Hoffa was killed by alleged Irish mob boss Jimmy Coonan in a house near the Detroit suburb of Mount Clemens.
FBI officials on Tuesday declined comment on Frankos' account, one of many about Hoffa' disappearance July 30, 1975. An official with the State Commission of Investigations in New Jersey called Frankos' story ''possible but ... improbable.''
Frankos told the magazine that Hoffa is buried in concrete underneath the artificial turf playing field, near Section 107 of the stadium where the National Football League's New York Giants play football.
He said he and an associate watched a game from the section in 1981 and joked about Hoffa.
''The Giants made a few touchdowns, and we sat directly up from Jimmy Hoffa's final resting place,'' he said. ''And we said, 'Do you think Jimmy's watching the game? Hey Jimmy, this touchdown is for you.'''
Jim Minish, stadium assistant general manager, said workers dug nearly four feet into the concrete while replacing the artificial surface during the past year and found nothing.
Hoffa was last seen in a suburban Detroit restaurant and his body has never been found. The FBI still considers the case open.
Frankos told Playboy Hoffa was lured to the house by Chuckie O'Brien, who Hoffa treated like a son and was one of the few men Hoffa trusted.
Coonan, armed with a .22-caliber pistol with a silencer, ''hit him twice in the forehead with the bullets - exploded his brains,'' Frankos told the magazine.
With the help of John Sullivan, described by Frankos as a mob hitman, Coonan carried Hoffa into the basement and put his body on a table.
''They plugged in the bucksaw and they also had a meat cleaver to cut away any tendons,'' Frankos said.
''On the table was all these black-plastic bags and cut rope. Coonan was cutting and Sullivan was bagging 'em up. Coonan severed Hoffa's head and, with a pocket knife, he cut a lock of hair from the side of Hoffa's head and kept it for good luck,'' Frankos told Playboy.
The body was placed in a meat freezer and several months later was trucked in an oil drum from Michigan to the East Rutherford, N.J. site where Giants Stadium was under construction, Frankos said.
He said alleged mob affiliate Joe ''Mad Dog'' Sullivan, no relation to John Sullivan, buried the remains at the stadium.
Frankos said Hoffa was killed in a dispute over Hoffa's desire to regain control of the Teamsters upon his release from the federal penitentiary at Lewisburg, Pa., where he was imprisoned for mail fraud and jury tampering. He added that a second motive was Hoffa's prison fight with Tony Provenzano, a New Jersey Teamster official who also was an alleged mobster.
According to Frankos, Provenzano sought permission to kill Hoffa from Anthony Salerno, then boss of the Genovese crime family. Frankos was to kill Hoffa, but was in prison at the time so others committed the murder and described it to him later, Frankos said.
Coonan and Joe Sullivan are serving lengthy prison terms in unrelated cases, Frankos said. Provenzano is dead, and John Sullivan ''is the only one that's out there today who was an actual killer,'' he said. John Sullivan's whereabouts could not be determined.
''It's a very sad way for somebody to find out, especially considering that the FBI has boasted that they know who killed him, but they can't prove it,'' said Hoffa's daughter, Barbara Ann Crancer, an administrative law judge with the Worker's Compensation Commission of Missouri.
In a telephone interview from St. Louis, Ms. Crancer said she has never heard of Jimmy Coonan or Donald Frankos.
FBI spokesman in Chicago, Washington, Detroit and New Jersey all said they could not comment on the article because the Hoffa investigation is still active.
''We do believe that we have a much better understanding as to what happened and why it happened and who the participants were,'' said FBI spokesman John Anthony in the Detroit bureau. ''The one piece to the puzzle that remains unsolved is the disposition of the body ... and of course the conviction'' of those involved, he said.
Frankos' story ''is possible but it's improbable,'' said Justin Dintino, chief of organized crime and intelligence with the State Commission of Investigations in New Jersey.
''In my opinion it's somewhat unlikely,'' he said. ''I think the onus here is on the FBI, if they take it serious enough to start digging up the Meadowlands.''