Hoffa Lawyer: Jimmy Recruited Mob for JFK Hit
NEW YORK (AP) _ A lawyer says he relayed an order from Jimmy Hoffa to two mob bosses that he believes resulted in the assassination of President Kennedy, a newspaper reported Tuesday.
Frank Ragano of Tampa, Fla., who represented Hoffa for 15 years, told the New York Post the former Teamsters boss asked him to carry a message to Florida mob boss Santos Trafficante and New Orleans mob head Carlos Marcello in January or February 1963, nine months before Kennedy was slain.
″Jimmy told me to tell Marcello and Trafficante they had to kill the president,″ Ragano told the Post. ″Hoffa said to me, ’This has to be done.‴
The newspaper quoted Ragano saying he was chosen by Hoffa because he also represented Trafficante - insuring he would have attorney-client privilege with two of the three people allegedly involved.
Ragano, who is appealing a tax evasion conviction, told the Post his recollections of his clients and their roles in the Kennedy assassination would be included in an upcoming autobiography.
The Post story, by columnist Jack Newfield, is the latest Kennedy conspiracy theory to be floated, including the Oliver Stone version of a government-sanctioned hit in his film ″JFK.″
The Warren Commission, which issued the official report on the assassination, maintained Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone in shooting the president on Nov. 22, 1963, in Dallas.
The 1979 final report of the Select House Committee on Assassinations concluded that Marcello, Trafficante and Hoffa had the ″motive, means and opportunity″ to kill the president. But the panel was ″unable to establish direct evidence″ of their complicity.
Marcello, Trafficante and Hoffa were all under investigation by the Justice Department, headed by Robert Kennedy, at the time of the assassination; Hoffa and Marcello were under federal indictment.
Conspiracy theorists also note that Oswald had lived for a while in New Orleans with a relative who worked as a bookie, and Trafficante had gambling interests in Cuba before the Castro revolution.
After getting the word from Hoffa, Ragano said he met with the two mob bosses at a New Orleans hotel and delivered the message.
″I told them, ‘You won’t believe what Hoffa wants me to tell you. Jimmy wants you to kill the president.’ They didn’t laugh,″ Ragano said. ″They were dead serious. ... Their looks scared me. It made me think they already had such a thought in their mind.″
Ragano said he and Trafficante had dinner the night of the Kennedy slaying, and the mob boss offered a ghoulish toast: ″The SOB is dead. Our problems are over. I hope Jimmy is happy now. ... we’re out of trouble now.″
Two weeks later, Ragano said, he met with Marcello in New Orleans. The mob boss ″looked like the cat who ate the canary,″ Ragano said. ″He had a smug look on his face. He said, ’Jimmy owes me and he owes me big.‴
Ragano, 68, didn’t return a phone message left Tuesday at his Tampa law office. Trafficante died of natural causes in 1987, and Hoffa has been missing and presumed dead since 1975. There was no answer Tuesday afternoon at the Detroit law offices of Hoffa’s son, James Jr.