March 29, 2002
No Charges to Be Filed in Hoffa Case
DETROIT (AP) - The federal probe into Teamsters President James R. Hoffa's 1975 disappearance was active as recently as two months ago, but investigators are now ruling out federal charges and are turning the case over to local prosecutors.
John Bell, special agent in charge of the Detroit bureau, told The Detroit News on Thursday the case was stymied because of the amount of time that has passed since Hoffa disappeared from a Detroit-area restaurant parking lot in 1975.
"There is no viable federal prosecution at this time," he said.
Bell said he would refer the case to prosecutors in suburban Oakland County for possible state charges, the News reported in Friday editions.
Special agent Dawn Clenney, a spokeswoman in the FBI's Detroit office, said the possibility of federal charges remains, but only if more information is uncovered.
"The FBI will continue the investigation of the Hoffa case," Clenney said. "We will run down every lead as we have in the past. We think there is a possibility that the state can pursue charges."
On Thursday, the FBI released 1,330 pages from its investigative file into Hoffa's disappearance to the News in response to a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit.
Many passages were blacked out, but the documents indicate the FBI interviewed more than a dozen people in late 2001 and early this year, pursuing leads in Florida, Indiana, Maryland, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Kentucky.
Investigators examined a gun in Pittsburgh and checked out every meatpacking plant in the Detroit area, the documents show. The FBI also tried to link fingerprints to people in its computerized database.
The FBI turned over the entire 3,432 pages from its Hoffa file to U.S. District Judge Victoria A. Roberts. The judge will decide what other material, if any, from the file should be released to the public.
The case returned to the limelight in September, when the News reported that DNA evidence placed Hoffa in a car that investigators long suspected, but were unable to prove, was used in his disappearance.
FBI scientists used new technology to match the DNA from Hoffa's hair with that of a strand of hair found in a car driven by longtime Hoffa friend Charles "Chuckie" O'Brien on July 30, 1975, the last day Hoffa was seen alive.
O'Brien told investigators in 1975 he borrowed the car, owned by the son of reputed Mafia figure Anthony Giacalone, to deliver a frozen salmon to the home of Robert Holmes, then president of Teamsters Local 337.
The delivery put O'Brien in the area near the Machus Red Fox restaurant, where Hoffa was supposed to meet with Giacalone and New Jersey Teamsters boss Anthony Provenzano.
Neither man showed up. Both said no meeting had been scheduled.
Investigators believe Hoffa, then 62, was picked up outside the restaurant and killed. Hoffa's family believes only a close friend, such as O'Brien, could have persuaded Hoffa to get in the car.
O'Brien has denied he had anything to do with Hoffa's disappearance.
FBI agents will meet with Oakland County Prosecutor David Gorcyca and his staff to review the case and discuss whether any state charges apply, Bell said.
Messages seeking comment Friday from Teamsters President James P. Hoffa, the late union leader's son, and Gorcyca were not immediately returned.
Hoffa's daughter, Barbara Ann Crancer, now a municipal judge in St. Louis, filed her own unsuccessful lawsuit to force the FBI's release of the documents in the late 1980s.
She said copies of the materials released Thursday were being mailed to her and she had no idea what they would say.
"I've been waiting almost 27 years. I can wait until I get my hands on them before I guess what's in there," Crancer said.