Author believes he has found Jimmy Hoffa's burial site

Detroit — A Washington, D.C.-based author believes he has located the burial site of Jimmy Hoffa, 44 years after the Teamsters boss disappeared in Metro Detroit.

Dan Moldea, author of the book "The Hoffa Wars," said he spent the last year in New Jersey uncovering the last stop of Hoffa's journey, which he says is a 53-acre dump site in Jersey City.

"This is the best lead I've seen on this case in 44 years," said Moldea, who began investigating Hoffa's fate as a graduate student at Kent State University in Ohio.

Jimmy Hoffa

Hoffa was president of the Teamsters union from 1957 to 1971, the last four years while serving a prison sentence for fraud and jury tampering. Federal investigators believe he was killed by mob bosses because he wanted to recapture the union presidency he lost while in prison.

Hoffa vanished from the parking lot of the Machus Red Fox restaurant in Bloomfield Township in July 1975.

From there, Moldea says, Hoffa was taken to a location in Detroit, where he was murdered, placed in a 55-gallon drum, loaded onto a Gateway Transportation truck, then driven to New Jersey.

Moldea says Hoffa's body was disposed of in a former landfill called "Brother Moscato's Dump," a toxic waste site bordered by the Hackensack River. The dumpsite was targeted for cleanup by the EPA during the late 1970s and 1980s. Most of the land is now a public park and a wildlife refuge, he said.

"Brother Moscato’s Dump" was also known as the PJP Landfill: "P" for owner Philip "Brother" Moscato, a member of the Vito Genovese crime family; "J" for local political figure John Hanley; and "P" for businessman Paul Cappola. Moscato allegedly worked under Anthony Provenzano of New Jersey, one of two mobsters Hoffa expected to meet on the day he disappeared.

Moldea said he stumbled on Moscato's name in 2007 while working on a case involving a crooked judge in Florida and remembered him from the Hoffa case. He  interviewed him over the years and collected information before Moscato died in 2014.

"He revealed that Hoffa's body was buried at the dump and that Sal Briguglio, another associate of Provenzano and one of Moscato’s closest friends, killed Hoffa," Moldea said. "This went on for five years, trying to get Phil to give me the spot."

Moldea said he identified the place from what other sources, Cappola and Moscato gave him over the years. But it wasn't until Sept. 7, when Cappola's son, Frank Cappola, contacted him corroborating the two landfill owner's stories, Moldea said.

Frank Cappola was 17 and worked at the dump part-time when Hoffa disappeared, according to Moldea, who says Cappola said he witnessed his father and Moscato talking about a job where they had to dig a large hole with an excavator. He told Moldea at the time, he didn't know why.

Fourteen years later, in 1989, Frank Cappola was working on a waste site next to the long-defunct PJP Landfill, Moldea said. 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," Moldea wrote Thursday in an opinion piece for Fox News.

It's alleged that when Paul Cappola was dying in 2008, he told his son details about what happened to Hoffa's body, adding that he wanted his son to help return Hoffa home.

"We went together on Sept. 29, where he gave me a 45-minute tour of the area and it culminates at the spot of where Hoffa's buried... It was breathtaking, quite a moment," Moldea said. "It's the size of a little league baseball diamond."

Moldea said Cappola listed what his father told him in a sworn declaration and is willing to take a polygraph test and show the FBI the exact location. He said they have not approached the FBI.

"I have been down this road before, but I'm determined to be there even if it means doing it myself," he said.

Detroit FBI spokeswoman Mara Schneider said Friday that the agency is aware of the recent claim and would assist if evidence surfaces.

"If the FBI is able to develop credible information about Mr. Hoffa's whereabouts, we are willing to take the necessary steps to find him," Schneider said in an email to The Detroit News.

Moldea came forward in anticipation of the release of "The Irishman," a three-hour drama featuring Robert De Niro and Al Pacino. The film follows Frank "The Irishman" Sheeran (De Niro), a former labor union official and hitman working with the Bufalino crime family. He claims to have played a part in the disappearance of his lifelong friend, Hoffa.

"We've done about a half a dozen searches before and always wind up disappointed," Moldea said. "This timeline is right and I don't mind spending a few thousand dollars running down these leads."

Past searches

Hoffa was declared legally dead in 1982. Federal investigators believe mob bosses had Hoffa killed to prevent him from regaining the union presidency, but they never found enough evidence to charge anyone.

In 2004, police got a tip about a possible murder location at a home in northwest Detroit. A piece of wood flooring from the house was cut and sent to FBI laboratories in Washington to be examined for traces of Hoffa's blood and DNA.

In 2013, a three-day search for the remains of the missing labor boss ended without a body.

FBI investigators at the time said they found no evidence after combing a one-acre site in north Oakland County with 40 agents, cadaver dogs, forensic anthropologists and an earth mover. In that case, a tip had come from an aging mobster that Hoffa was buried in a shallow grave there.

The year prior, a tipster suffering from terminal cancer told police the remains might be buried in a rear part of a residential driveway shielded from the view of neighboring homes.

The FBI also dug up a Milford Township horse farm and destroyed a barn there in 2006 searching for Hoffa's remains.

"It's been disappointing for the FBI too," Moldea said. "I've never seen a bad FBI dig — even the farm, which they were ridiculed for. Everything was worth it."

It's also not the first time New Jersey has been suspected as the site where Hoffa was buried. The FBI has investigated reports Hoffa was buried under the west end zone of Giants Stadium in New Jersey in the early 2000s.

"I am Ahab and this Hoffa case is my white whale," Moldea said. "I will do whatever is necessary."

Twitter: @SarahRahal_