Jimmy Hoffa: Bested by Brotherhood

From ninth grade dropout to president of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, Jimmy Hoffa climbed the ladder of success. But were the rungs at the top greased by organized crime?
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From ninth grade dropout to president of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, Jimmy Hoffa climbed the ladder of success. But were the rungs at the top greased by organized crime?

Jimmy Hoffa speaking with drivers of the Viking Freight Company in St Louis, Missouri. 1959. (Getty)

Jimmy Hoffa speaking with drivers of the Viking Freight Company in St Louis, Missouri. 1959. (Getty)

From ninth grade dropout to president of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, Jimmy Hoffa climbed the ladder of success. But were the rungs at the top greased by organized crime? It's a mystery that's still being investigated today, even though he's been gone since July 30, 1982.

It's no doubt that Hoffa started off with good intentions to uplift local teamsters in the Detroit area. He saw poor working conditions as a teamster himself, which caused him to organize his first sit-down strike in 1931 and later champion the first national trucking contract in 1964. But Hoffa wasn't a saint: At the same time he seemed to be helping the unions, he was convicted of jury tampering and misuse of union pension funds. Whether this was just a small look at larger mob ties is up for debate...just like his current whereabouts. But that hasn't stopped the FBI from looking.

Thirty-one years ago after his disappearance, Hoffa is still managing to make headlines. On a tip from Anthony Zerilli, the son of former Detroit mob boss Joseph Zerilli, the FBI just recently searched a field in Oakland Township, Michigan, for Hoffa's body. But the investigation failed to turn up any new evidence.

"It remains an open investigation," said an FBI spokesman, "As long as cases remain open, the FBI remains committed to the pursuit of justice."