“This is it,” Frank Cappola said to me in a hushed voice on a sunny Sunday afternoon, September 29, as he compared the foreboding area where we were standing with aerial photographs of this same scene. “This is where my dad buried Jimmy Hoffa.”
As his memories sharpened just by being there, Cappola then went on to repeat what he had told me during our numerous telephone interviews over the past three weeks, along with revealing new details about Hoffa’s alleged burial site, which was the approximate size of a Little-League baseball diamond.
Openly wearing a body camera and holding a small camcorder in the palm of my hand, I memorialized everything he said and did during our 45-minute tour of the area. Along with a lengthy face-to-face recorded interview with Cappola, I asked him to sign a sworn statement, attesting to his story under the penalty of perjury, which he solemnly executed on October 7, notarized and all.
With the release of Martin Scorsese’s great-cinema-but-bad-history film fantasy, “The Irishman”, the season has arrived for more sightings of Jimmy Hoffa. And, as a consequence of having covered this saga since Hoffa disappeared on July 30, 1975, I have been involved in a half-dozen previous searches—all of which wound up as captivating adventures but, at the end of the day, cruel disappointments.
But, after closely scrutinizing Cappola’s story, his version of events was something very special and unique. In fact, during my forty-four years of investigating Hoffa’s fate, Cappola’s information was the most promising I had ever seen or heard with regard to a possible site of the grave for the ex-Teamsters boss. It just felt right.
The location—widely thought to be operated by mobsters—was a familiar one to the FBI and those who had studied the Hoffa-murder case: “Brother Moscato’s Dump” in Jersey City, New Jersey—once a sprawling 53-acre toxic-waste site bordered by the Hackensack River and directly beneath the Pulaski Skyway which stretched between Jersey City and Newark. The dumpsite was targeted for cleanup by the EPA during the late 1970s and 1980s. Most of the land was now a public park and a wildlife refuge.
“Brother Moscato’s Dump” was also known as the PJP Landfill: “P” for Phillip “Brother” Moscato; “J” for local political figure John Hanley; and “P” for Paul Cappola, Frank Cappola’s father. Moscato, according to federal and state law-enforcement officials, was a reputed soldier in the Vito Genovese crime family. He worked under Anthony Provenzano of New Jersey, one of two mobsters Hoffa’s expected to meet on the day he disappeared. Moscato died in 2014.
The late Paul Cappola was a respected businessman who owned a waste-management company in Jersey City and was Moscato’s partner at the PJP Landfill. Cappola was certainly connected to the underworld but, unlike Brother Moscato, was not a “made” member of the Mafia. Still, like Moscato, he was obedient to the powers that controlled the waste-management industry in New Jersey and New York during the 1970s.
Frank, who was seventeen and working part-time at the dump when Hoffa disappeared during the summer of 1975, stated in his affidavit: “While I was talking to my dad, a black limousine drove onto our lot in the mud. My dad said to Mr. Moscato, something like, ‘They’re here.’
Phillip “Brother” Moscato Sr
“Mr. Moscato went to the limousine and spoke with its occupants, none of whom were known to me. During their conversation, Mr. Moscato turned and pointed to a specific area in the northeast section of the landfill. At the time, I didn’t know why.”
“After Mr. Moscato made this hand gesture, my father threw his hands up in the air and exclaimed, ‘Now, the whole **** world will know!’ I didn’t know what my dad was talking about then.”
“When the limousine left, Mr. Moscato told my father that he had to be somewhere that night, adding, ‘You have to handle it, Paul.’ They walked into the PJP office for a closed-door meeting. At that time, I didn’t know what they discussed.
“Shortly before I left work that day, I saw that a large hole had been dug with an excavator. At the time, I had no idea why.”
Fourteen years later, in 1989, Frank Cappola was working on a waste site adjacent to the long-defunct PJP Landfill. During a visit from his father, the two men walked onto what was once PJP. When they came to the location of the hole Frank saw that night in 1975, Paul Cappola told his son, “This is where Jimmy Hoffa is buried.”
Frank recalled, “This was the first time that my dad admitted that Hoffa was buried at PJP although he had referred to Hoffa in unspecific terms in our previous conversations.”
In 2008, while Paul Cappola was dying, he provided his son with the details about what had happened to Hoffa’s body, adding that he wanted his son “to help Hoffa return home to his family.”
U.S. labor leader Jimmy Hoffa is photographed at the Greater Pittsburgh Airport, Pennsylvania, in this April 12, 1971. (Reuters)
In his sworn declaration executed at my request, Frank Cappola listed what his father told him:
a. A person or persons he did not name instructed my father and Mr. Moscato to bury Jimmy Hoffa’s body. My father led me to believe that they were the people in the limousine with whom Mr. Moscato met that muddy day during the summer of 1975.
b. Mr. Moscato told my dad that he had something to do that night and asked my father to take care of it.
c. Mr. Moscato had a burial location for Hoffa on the landfill site. While he was talking to the people in the limousine, both my father and I witnessed him pointing in the direction of this location.
d. My father was upset with Mr. Moscato for pointing to that area at the landfill, because the dump was constantly under police scrutiny, and Mr. Moscato’s gesture could have given away the location of Hoffa’s body.
e. After Mr. Moscato left PJP, my father, who didn’t trust anybody, decided to dig a second hole with a company excavator and to place Hoffa at that location—unknown to Mr. Moscato. My dad never told him.
f. Unidentified people brought Hoffa’s dead body to PJP. Because of the awkward position of Hoffa’s corpse after they removed him from whatever container he was in before, they were unable to place him, feet first, in a 55-gallon steel drum retrieved at PJP. So, they put him in the drum headfirst. Then, they sealed the container. My father saw but never handled Hoffa’s dead body.
g. After those people left, my father likely placed the steel drum containing Hoffa’s body on a front loader. Then, he positioned the drum at the bottom of the large hole my father dug, which was eight-to-fifteen feet deep.
h. I will reveal the exact location of that hole to law enforcement, along with two additional and provable details about that site.
i. My father then placed as many as fifteen to thirty chemical drums in the hole where Hoffa’s body was encased, along with chunks of brick and dirt.
j. Notably, as a common practice, the chemical drums would be marked. The steel drum that contained Hoffa’s body was likely not marked.
k. Then, my father covered the grave with a bulldozer, which completed his task. The site was his secret.
l. My father also placed something detectable just under the surface of the gravesite, which I am willing to disclose to law enforcement.
To accompany Frank’s affidavit, I have also executed a sworn statement to provide context to and support for his story.
On background, the disappearance of Jimmy Hoffa was a three-act drama with different characters in each act. In Act One, Hoffa, anticipating a meeting with mobsters Provenzano of New Jersey and Tony Giacalone of Detroit, was picked up by persons unknown at the Red Fox restaurant in Bloomfield Township, Michigan.
In Act Two, Hoffa was presumably taken to a location where he was then murdered.
In Act Three, Hoffa’s dead body was disposed of.
According to official law-enforcement documents, the revelations about the alleged roles of Provenzano’s crew were provided to the FBI by Ralph Picardo, then an inmate in a state prison facility in Trenton, New Jersey. Picardo—who was serving twenty years for second-degree murder—told the FBI in or about November 1975 that he had received a visit from Stephen Andretta, one of the alleged co-conspirators, a few days after Hoffa’s murder. During their conversation, Andretta allegedly gave Picardo several key details about Hoffa’s killing, including but not limited to information that Hoffa had been: a) murdered in Detroit; b) placed in a 55-gallon drum; c) loaded onto a Gateway Transportation truck; d) driven to New Jersey; and e) buried at a location not specified by Andretta.
When the FBI questioned Picardo, he speculated that Salvatore Briguglio, another associate of Provenzano and one of Moscato’s closest friends, killed Hoffa and that his dead body was buried at “Brother Moscato’s Dump” in Jersey City. Based on Picardo’s information, the FBI obtained a search warrant for the landfill, one of many frustrating and failed attempts to find Hoffa’s remains.
Salvatore Briguglio, center, smiles as he waits to enter the lobby of the Oakland County Jail in Pontiac, Mich., Dec. 6, 1975 where he was to appear in a court ordered lineup in connection with the disappearance of James R. Hoffa. Thomas Andretta, left, was also to appear in the lineup. (AP Photo) (AP)
Between 2007 and 2014, I recorded several interviews with Phillip “Brother” Moscato.
Moscato, among other things, either told me, confirmed, or led me to believe the following, according to my sworn declaration:
* “Picardo basically had it right,” said Mr. Moscato, who added that there is “a lot more to the story than is known.”
* Vito Giacalone, the brother of Tony Giacalone, was driving the car that picked up Mr. Hoffa.
* Salvatore Briguglio killed Mr. Hoffa.
* When Mr. Hoffa’s body was shipped to New Jersey, according to Mr. Moscato, the Gateway Transportation truck delivered the corpse to Mr. Moscato’s dump. Mr. Moscato, who died in 2014, admitted to me that Mr. Hoffa was buried at this location.
On February 3, 2019, I received a call from Paul Cappola, Jr., the youngest brother of Frank Cappola, who believed that Frank knew where Hoffa was buried at the PJP Landfill. In response, I asked for an introduction to Frank but, for whatever reason, I didn’t receive it at that time.
Several months later, on September 6, 2019, I contacted Paul Cappola, Jr., again and appealed to him to arrange an introduction for me to his older brother.
The following day, September 7, I received a call from Frank Cappola. During this interview, he told me that Hoffa was indeed buried at the PJP Landfill where Cappola, who was seventeen in 1975, worked for his father as a part-time employee.
After our first conversation, I interviewed Frank again, by phone, about Hoffa’s burial site on September 10, September 19, twice on September 24, September 25, and September 26.
On September 26, I bought Cappola a plane ticket to Newark, New Jersey. He arrived on Friday, September 27. We had dinner together the following night, September 28.
On Sunday morning, September 29, Cappola picked me up at my hotel in Secaucus and, at my request, drove to the former PJP Landfill in Jersey City.
When we arrived, Cappola gave me a tour of the area, culminating with his identification of the exact spot where, according to Cappola, Hoffa was buried in the grave dug by his father.
In anticipation of the release of “The Irishman,” Shawn, who has been the centerpiece of the renewed investigation, and I have been collaborating since August to solve Act Three of the Hoffa case.
To that end, Cappola said that he is prepared to cooperate fully with the appropriate law-enforcement agencies to once and for all prove his claims.
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