Hoffa the loser in feud with Robert Kennedy
On March 4, 1964 Teamster Union boss was convicted of jury tampering in a federal trial that occurred in Tennessee. The trial and conviction were a long time coming in the feud between Robert Kennedy’s Department of Justice and the mob affiliated union head.
Hoffa had famously embarrassed the anti-mafia crusading Kennedy in public hearings in 1957 as the McClellan Commission investigated union ties to crime. The two developed a deep personal hatred for each other. When Kennedy became Attorney General in 1961, he didn’t forget Hoffa. He went after him in every way possible. It didn’t hurt that Hoffa was actually corrupt and used his union funds to benefit both himself and organized crime figures.
Hoffa had beat a bribery charge during the McClellan hearings. He was accused of bribing an aide to the Senate Committee but was acquitted at trial. In 1962 was charged with conspiracy in Tennessee Federal Court. The case revolved around a million dollar kickback scheme that Hoffa allegedly organized. Again, he beat the case with a hung jury.
The 1964 case was a spinoff of the 1962 conspiracy case. The feds alleged that Hoffa had bribed jurors to prevent a conviction with the hung jury. While Kennedy’s case showed that Hoffa had influenced jury members, Hoffa’s PR machine made the opposite allegations against the Department of Justice. Media outlets were fed stories that black jurors were illegally influenced to convict Hoffa by government officials. The spin campaign didn’t work.
Hoffa was found guilty of tampering with the jury. He was sentenced to 8 years in prison. He was shortly thereafter found guilty on a fraud case in federal court in Chicago and given another 5 years. In 1967 he reported to Lewisburg Federal Penitentiary in Pennsylvania after a series of appeals failed. He was being targeted by the feds, the only problems was that he was guilty.
President Nixon pardoned Hoffa in 1971 with the caveat that he would not be involved, either directly or indirectly, in the management of any labor unions. Hoffa couldn’t help himself. He wanted back in. He became a legitimate nuisance to those now controlling the union. We all know what happens when you become a nuisance in the organized crime world. You get a stern talking to. With a shovel. In a shallow grave outside Detroit.