The Disappearance of
On Rolland McMaster & Frank Sheeran
Who is Rolland
(McMaster died on October 25, 2007.)
See my 1978 work, The Hoffa Wars (Chapter One), the only book in the world that features the key characters in this latest drama about the fate of Jimmy Hoffa - including McMaster, federal witness Donovan Wells, trucker James Shaw, union organizer Lawrence McHenry, trucking executive Stan Barr, businessman John R. Ferris, and attorney Mayer Morganroth, as well as Gateway Transportation and Detroit's Leland House - with more to come.
Regardless of whether or not the FBI finds Hoffa's body at the Michigan farm McMaster owned in 1975, this is a very important, long-overdue investigation. (Dan E. Moldea - May 18, 2006)
* * *
For information about the remarkable legal battle between the Detroit Free Press and the Department of Justice over the FBI's sealed affidavit that led to the search warrant targeting McMaster's farm, see David Ashenfelter's "FBI, paper spar over Hoffa search," June 15; and "FBI must justify sealing Hoffa search warrant, judge says," June 16, as well as the editorial, "Why Bury Facts on Hoffa Case?" June 16.
The contents of the sealed affidavit are supposedly breathtaking. The DOJ did release a heavily-censored version of this 40-page document on June 16, but it was described by the Free Press's legal counsel as "meaningless" because of the redactions. (See Ashenfelter's "Hoffa affidavit released," June 17.)
Then, on June 26, U.S. District Judge Marianne Battani, who is presiding over the dispute, refused to force the feederal government to release the document. (See: Ashenfelter's "Judge refuses to unseal FBI's Hoffa dig affidavit," June 27.)
Is this just another routine suppression of evidence or the prelude to the first indictments in the Hoffa case?
Also, as part of their argument for full disclosure, Ashenfelter and the Detroit Free Press have released the Hoffex Memorandum, the FBI's 1976 secret summary, detailing what is known by the law-enforcement community about the Hoffa disappearance.
Dan E. Moldea on the FBI's investigation of Rolland McMaster
* DAN MOLDEA (Investigative Author): If it's just another empty hole, it's just another failed attempt to find Jimmy Hoffa, and the legend will continue. (NBC Nightly News, May 18, 2006)
* Hoffa expert Dan Moldea, a Washington, D.C., author who wrote The Hoffa Wars, said Wells is a key figure in the case.
"He lived with McMaster on his farm in Wixom, was a partner of McMaster's brother-in-law, Stanton Barr, and may know what happened to Hoffa if McMaster was involved in the disappearance," Moldea said.
Both Barr and McMaster were called before a federal grand jury in Detroit after Hoffa vanished. Moldea said he interviewed Wells in 1976 and that Wells denied any knowledge of Hoffa's disappearance. (Detroit Free Press, May 19, 2006)
* McMaster was a former top organizer for Hoffa in the 1950s. According to book, The Hoffa Wars by Dan Moldea, McMaster was one of the Teamsters' top muscle men and an associate of high-level organized-crime figures. He was once subpoenaed to testify before a congressional committee probing labor racketeering. (Detroit News, May 19, 2006)
* MOLDEA: Ralph Picardo was the key informant who told the FBI the ultimate situation with regard to Hoffa [in 1975]. The final thing he said was that Hoffa`s body was stuffed into a 55-gallon drum, shipped via a Gateway transportation truck to an unknown destination. Don Wells was in business with the head of the steel division from Gateway. He also hired a guy named Jim Shaw, who was also a driver for Gateway, whom the FBI suspected of being involved in the violence in local 299, which preceded Hoffa`s murder. This is a very legitimate investigation. . . .
Rolland McMaster is a very smart guy. Even at 92, he`s a very wily guy and a very dangerous guy. . . . I`m going to be surprised if they find the body, but the FBI is taking this seriously so I`m taking it seriously. . . . Don Wells is credible. I was very excited when I heard it was Don Wells who was the informant. (MSNBC, The Abrams Report, May 19, 2006)
* Wells is identified in a 1978 book on the Hoffa disappearance by author Dan Moldea. The book focuses heavily on McMaster and his long-standing relationship with Hoffa, which wound up with a falling out shortly after Hoffa went to prison in 1967 for jury tampering and fraud. (Associated Press, May 19, 2006)
* Dan Moldea, Author: This is about the war against organized crime. This is about investigating organized crime and the nefarious actions it takes. The most prominent murder it has ever waged was the one against Jimmy Hoffa. We need to find a solution to this. . . . [The FBI] is on the right track, but I'm going to be shocked if they find the body. I know the players involved. I interviewed them. They are characters in my book I'd be surprised if they kept that trophy buried in a place where it could be found, and it could be a piece of evidence that could send them to jail for the rest of their lives. (CNBC, The Big Idea, May 23, 2006)
* Dan Moldea, the Washington, D.C., author of a 1978 book about the rise and fall of Hoffa, The Hoffa Wars, said he believes Wells has high credibility because he was "at the nexus" of several figures he believes were central to the mysterious death.
"The FBI doesn't want to look like Geraldo opening up an empty grave," Moldea said Monday. "I can't believe they are intentionally walking into a situation where they are going to be ridiculed.
"They believe in the credibility of the witness." (Detroit News, May 23, 2006)
* In The Hoffa Wars, author Dan Moldea described a picket line scene in the 1940s to illustrate the violence he said McMaster was capable of as a union enforcer.
"McMaster, towering above the car, crashed his steely fists onto the hood," Moldea wrote.
"Then, with one mighty jab, he smashed his hand through the window, grabbed the driver by the hair, and pulled him through the shattered glass. . . .
"McMaster tore out the gearshift handle and began beating the other union man." (Detroit News, May 24, 2006)
* Moldea, Author: I have about a dozen hours of taped interviews with Rolland McMaster from thirty years ago. Jimmy Hoffa and Rolland McMaster were not friends by any stretch of the imagination. With regard to the FBI going over the entire farm back in 1976, I think they dug one little hole. And Wells was complaining that they had simply dug in the wrong place. And, third, with regard to McMaster not being a suspect, this is the official document that came from the FBI, The Hoffex Report, which said [Moldea reads]: "Based on all the information, there is no concrete evidence to indicate McMaster's involvement [in Hoffa's murder and the disposal of his body]. However, there is enough independent testimony that he be retained as a suspect. Investigation will continue regarding McMaster." This is from January 1976. He has always been a suspect. (Court TV, Catherine Crier Live, May 26, 2006)
* The commutation of [Hoffa's] prison stay came with the proviso he couldn't make a run for the union's leadership until 1980.
Instead, Hoffa sought to use Teamsters' Local 299 as a beachhead to regain his crown more quickly -- a bid that sparked a war.
"A goon squad began operating in the Detroit area by someone named Rolland McMaster," says Moldea. "There were bombings and shootings against pro-Hoffa people. . . .
"The FBI is taking Wells' information very seriously," says Moldea. "The affidavit for the search is apparently breathtaking in its detail but is sealed -- I'd love to see it."
But Moldea has doubts anything will turn up on the farm, saying such an ending would unfairly taint what's a valuable investigation. (Calgary Sun, May 28, 2006)
* Dan Moldea, a Washington, D.C. author who wrote a book about the rise and fall of Hoffa, believes the FBI is doing the right thing yet doubts the killers would have left Hoffa's body buried on the farm of a known Hoffa associate. Still, he supports the latest effort.
"The U.S. government has to stand up against a situation where a guy as famous as Jimmy Hoffa can be snatched in broad daylight from a public place, killed, and his body disposed of," Moldea said.
"The FBI is going to take some grief for this, but I think this is righteous." (Detroit News, May 29, 2006)
* Dan Moldea, Author, responding to the claim of Lynda Milito that her husband. Mafia soldier Louie Milito, had murdered Hoffa and buried him in a bridge in New York City: I can assure this lady that there are plenty of places in Detroit where a body can be disposed of. They didn't need to take it to the East Coast. (CNN, American Morning, May 29, 2006)
* Dan Moldea, Author and investigative journalist: To me, this is about solving the case. . . . I know these guys would not bury a trophy in their backyard. They would chop the body up. They would incinerate it. (CBS Evening News, May 30, 2006)
* [After the FBI called off its search of the farm on May 30:] Dan Moldea of Washington, D.C., author of the 1978 book, The Hoffa Wars, said he believes the FBI is on the right track, even though he did not believe the excavations would turn up Hoffa's body.
"The FBI is going to take some grief for this, and they don't deserve it," Moldea said. (Detroit News, May 31, 2006)
* Dan E. Moldea, Author and investigative journalist: For the past 31 years, the Mafia's trophy is its ability to get away with the murder of Jimmy Hoffa. The FBI needs to solve this case in the war against organized crime. (ABC, Good Morning America, May 31, 2006)
Frank Sheeran and the Murder of Jimmy Hoffa
Dan E. Moldea on Sheeran (3-13-2004): "As I wrote in my 1978 book, The Hoffa Wars, Frank Sheeran was directly involved in the murder of former Teamsters boss Jimmy Hoffa. Even though I do not believe that Sheeran, either in his alleged signed confession or Charles Brandt's upcoming book, was telling the truth about his specific role at the crime scene, I do believe that he honestly revealed many important details about certain events that occurred prior to the killing.
"Make no mistake: This is the biggest break in the case since Hoffa disappeared on July 30, 1975. Now, in the wake of Sheeran's death in December 2003, the task will be to separate fact from fiction."
Catalogue of events
March 13, 2004 - February 15, 2005
* Frank Sheeran's alleged confession about his knowledge of and role in Jimmy Hoffa's murder was released by David Ashenfelter of the Detroit Free Press on March 13, 2004. Sheeran allegedly signed this document, which stated, in part:When I arrived at the address, Sally Bugs [Salvatore Briguglio] was there, along with two brothers, Steve and Tom Andretta. The deed had already been done. As I had been instructed to do, I drove [Hoffa's] body to Pete Vitale's waste treatment plant, where all evidence was incinerated. I then returned to the airport and flew back to meet up with Russell [Bufalino]. (Emphasis added.)* Sheeran's previous book deal with John Zeitts--and a different version of events: Kitty Caparella, Philadelphia Daily News, "Harry Katz: Sheeran said he killed Hoffa," March 17, 2004.
* Eric Shawn's Fox News report about the revelations in Charles Brandt's book, "I Heard You Paint Houses": Frank "The Irishman" Sheeran & the Inside Story of the Mafia, the Teamsters & the Last Ride of Jimmy Hoffa (Steerforth Press), May 28, 2004.
* Ashenfelter's article in the Free Press about Brandt's book and Sheeran's alleged role in the killing, May 29, 2004.
* Who was living in the house where Hoffa was allegedly killed? See: Tina Lam, Detroit Free Press, "Mysterious boarder is part of the home's lore," May 29, 2004.
* Also see Ashenfelter, "Prosecutor may ask federal grand jury to investigate Hoffa case," June 1, 2004.
* Bryan Burrough, New York Times Book Review, "I Heard You Paint Houses," June 20, 2004.
* Leigh Strope, Associated Press, "29-Year Mystery: Hoffa: Fate may stay unknown - Son holds out little hope for a resolution," July 28, 2004.
* Sarah Karush, Associated Press (via the Detroit Free Press), "FBI says DNA analysis in Hoffa case completed; Gorcyca puzzled," February 12, 2005.
* Also see Ashenfelter, Detroit Free Press (via the Macon Telegraph), "Authorities expecting report on blood traces possibly linked to Hoffa," February 13, 2005.
* Sarah Karush, Associated Press (via the Detroit Free Press), "Police: Blood found in Detroit home did not come from Hoffa," February 14, 2005.
* Eric Shawn and Kendall Hagan, Fox News, "Blood Found at Mystery House Not Hoffa's," February 14, 2005.
* David Ashenfelter, Detroit Free Press, "Hoffa report adds to questions," February 14, 2005.
* Mike Martindale, Detroit News, "Hoffa tip fails to solve mystery," February 15, 2005. (Included on this page is a catalogue of the newspaper's coverage of the Sheeran matter.)Note from Dan Moldea after the negative DNA testing (2-14-2005): "As I have been saying all along: Frank Sheeran was involved in Jimmy Hoffa's murder--and, despite today's news, the FBI believes this, as well. However, like the FBI, I have never believed Sheeran's story about his role at the crime scene. Nevertheless, I continue to insist that Sheeran's information about the events that preceded the actual murder--as reported in Charles Brandt's book, as well as by Fox News and the Detroit Free Press--are extremely important to understanding what really happened to Hoffa on July 30, 1975."
Also see:* Chapter One of Moldea's 1978 book, The Hoffa Wars:" . . . While the ex-Teamster boss fretted, O'Brien was with Giacalone at a nearby health spa, where O'Brien was picking up gifts for his children's birthdays. Leaving the club at 2:25 P.M., O'Brien, federal agents say, then drove a car borrowed from Giacalone's son to pick up Hoffa. He took Hoffa to [a private residence], where Sheeran and the three Provenzano subordinates were waiting.* Also see Moldea's article about his exclusive October 25, 1976, interview with Salvatore Briguglio and other suspects in Hoffa's murder.
"Within a few minutes, Hoffa was dead."
* Moldea in the Washington Post on Hoffa, the 1992 movie: "Tales of Hoffa: Why Does Hollywood Turn Thugs Into Heroes?"
In response to The Hoffa Wars, Frank Sheeran's attorney wrote the following letter to Moldea on March 29, 1979: