“I Heard You Paint House’s – Closing the Jimmy Hoffa Case” is the autobiography of mobster Frank “The Irishman” Sheehan, written by former Delaware homicide attorney and deputy attorney general Charles Brandt. The main point of the book is that Sheehan, more than 25 years after the disappearance of the president of the Teamsters union, Jimmy Hoffa, finally admitted to putting two bullets in Hoffa’s head. The book is interspersed with Brant’s writing, which is accurate and fairly detailed, and transcripts of recordings that Brant made with Sheehan in the early 2000s. At the time of Sheehan’s “confession,” he was an old man. frail living in an assisted living facility.
The term “house painting” means that you are a murderer; the thought is, when you shoot someone in a house, you “paint” the walls with their blood. Sheehan, 6-foot-4, claimed that the first time he spoke to Hoffa, at the urging of mob boss Russell Bufalino, the first words Hoffa said to Sheehan on the phone were, “I heard you paint houses,” that it’s a subtle way of Hoffa asking Sheehan if he could depend on him to kill whoever Hoffa said needed to be killed. And Sheehan killed for Hoffa, according to Sheehan, many times. In this book, Sheehan mentions several murders he committed for Hoffa and also for other union leaders. But he does not mention the names of the victims, except for Hoffa and Crazy Joe Gallo, whom Sheehan also claims to have killed.
Brandt details Hoffa’s rise from a mere union member to the head of the Teamsters, the strongest and possibly the most corrupt union in American history. Hoffa had close relationships with various members of the American mob, including Bufalino and Anthony “Tony Pro” Provanzano, who was allegedly the one who insisted that Jimmy Hoffa should be killed. Hoffa had full control over the lucrative Teamsters retirement accounts, which he used as a quasi-loan system for various gangsters for various reasons, some legal, some not so legal. Of course, Hoffa pulled off the top a bit for himself, so everyone was happy.
When Hoffa, after a decade-long search for Robert Kennedy (Kennedy called his legal team “Get Hoffa”), was finally sent to prison for various union crimes, Hoffa chose his longtime friend Frank Fitzsimmons as interim president of the Teamsters. . The intention was that, after Hoffa was released from jail, he would resume his old duties with the Teamsters. Only the mob and Fitzsimmons had different ideas.
Released from prison after serving five years, Hoffa insisted that he be allowed to stand for election to get his old job back. Bufalino and Provenzano told Hoffa to forget to do it. They were perfectly happy with Fitzsimmons, whom they could control more easily than the bombastic Hoffa. Stupidly, Hoffa started threatening; saying he had enough information on many people to put them in jail. Hoffa also said he would yell at the feds if they didn’t give him back his old job. Soon the order was given that it was Hoffa who had to leave. According to Sheehan, he was one of Hoffa’s closest friends and the only one who could get close enough to Hoffa to get the job done.
According to Sheehan, on July 30, 1975, Hoffa was summoned to a meeting by Bufalino and Provenzano at the Machus Red Fox restaurant located in a suburb outside of Detroit. There was no one there when Hoffa arrived, but minutes later Sheehan arrived in a car driven by Chuckie O’Brien, whom Hoffa treated like his own son. Sheehan told Hoffa that the meeting venue had been moved to a private home. Hoffa didn’t like the idea, but knowing that the two mob bosses were outbidding him, Hoffa agreed to go anyway and got in the car. It was a fatal mistake.
When they reached the private house, O’Brien left and Sheehan followed Hoffa into the house. Once inside, Sheehan said he fired two bullets into his “friend” Hoffa’s head. A “cleaning crew” already on the premises, shoved Hoffa’s body into the trunk of a waiting car, hidden in the back garage. They then took Hoffa to a local funeral home for immediate cremation.
Sheehan claimed that he had no choice but to kill Hoffa, or he would have been killed himself. He also claims that he was heartbroken that he had to kill his best friend and as a result he soon became a desperate alcoholic.
Sheehan is one of the many people who claim to have killed Jimmy Hoffa. But he was the only one who was really a close friend of Hoffa and was a suspect in the FBI from the beginning. Maybe Sheehan killed Hoffa and maybe he didn’t. Brandt presented a concise blueprint of Hoffa’s murder that is quite convincing. But Sheehan’s claim to have killed insane Joe Gallo, by himself, is unbelievable.
By all accounts of Gallo’s murder, the insane Joe Gallo was murdered by two mob associates at Umberto’s Clam House on Mulberry Street in the early morning hours of April 7, 1972. There were eyewitnesses to the murder, and in no account was a single gunman described as the murderer. And certainly not a 6-foot-4-inch Irish gunman, who would stick out like a sore thumb in Manhattan’s Little Italy, where I lived for 48 years.
So it stands to reason that if Sheehan lied about killing Gallo, it is possible that he also lied about killing Hoffa. Only the “Irishman”, Jimmy Hoffa, and the real killers, if Sheehan didn’t kill Hoffa, they know for sure.