Frank "The Irishman" Sheeran (October 25, 1920 – December 14, 2003) was a labor union official who was accused of having links to the Bufalino crime family.
In his capacity as a high official in the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, Sheeran was a leading figure in the corruption of unions by organized crime. Shortly before his death, Sheeran also confessed to killing Teamster leader Jimmy Hoffa. Author Charles Brandt would detail what Sheeran told him about his alleged murder of Hoffa in his 2004 book I Heard You Paint Houses.
Frank Sheeran was born in Darby, Pennsylvania, a small working-class borough on the outskirts of Philadelphia. His family was of mixed Irish- and Swedish-American descent. He grew to his full adult height of 6 ft 4 in (1.93 m) tall while serving in the Army during World War II.
World War II
He enlisted in the U.S. Army in 1941, and was assigned to the military police before transferring to the 45th Infantry Division, known as "The Thunderbirds." It was while serving in World War II that Sheeran developed a callousness to the taking of human life. He served 411 days of combat duty (a large amount; average is around 100), and participated in the Dachau massacre.
When he returned to Pennsylvania, he became a trucker and married Mary, an Irish immigrant. Daughters Mary Anne, Peggy and Dolores were born in the years that followed.
But he also made extra money on the side by committing crimes, including murder for hire. Due to his criminal acumen, he became a close associate of Mafia bosses Russell Bufalino and Angelo Bruno. It was Bufalino, the head of the Bufalino crime family, who acted as Sheeran's mentor throughout his life.
The Teamster's Union
At Sheeran's request, Bufalino also set him up with Teamsters International President Jimmy Hoffa. Hoffa, who became a close friend, used Sheeran for muscle, including the assassination of recalcitrant union members and members of rival unions threatening the Teamsters' turf.
The title of the book Brandt wrote about Sheeran's life and career in organized crime "I Heard You Paint Houses" is based on the first words allegedly ever spoken to him by Jimmy Hoffa when they were introduced, which is slang for a contract killing.
Sheeran died on December 14, 2003, in a nursing home near Philadelphia soon after confessing about the murder of Jimmy Hoffa.
He also claimed to have been part of the provisioning of the anti-Fidel Castro forces involved in the Bay of Pigs invasion and had intimate knowledge about the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. According to Sheeran, Jimmy Hoffa wanted Kennedy dead as his brother Bobby Kennedy, the Attorney General of the United States, was harassing him. The assassination of President Kennedy was a Mafia hit, according to Sheeran, who did not actively participate in the plot, but who transported three rifles to the alleged assassins via David Ferrie.
Brandt describes in his book (I heard you paint houses) how the old and ill Sheeran told him that he was the man who shot Jimmy Hoffa upon Mafia orders. Sheeran would also confess to killing Hoffa to Fox News reporters. While investigators did find traces of blood in the Detroit house where Sheeran confessed he killed Hoffa in, they also determined it may have been too old for conclusive testing. Sheeran was one of several men who claimed to have killed Hoffa.
Additionally, Sheeran claimed to have been the triggerman behind another famous mob-related murder, that of Crazy Joe Gallo. An eyewitness to the Gallo hit was discovered by Charles Brandt(several decades after the murder) and confirmed that Sheeran was the shooter at Umberto's Clam House, and told of how IRA man John 'The Redhead' Francis drove the getaway car, explaining how mobsters were given different tasks during a hit so that no one knew the entire details. This claim has since been labeled highly dubious by multiple investigators.
"If one person did everything, they'd be shot afterwards to keep them quiet. So everyone had a role without anyone else knowing. It meant there wouldn't be a massacre afterwards", Sheeran told Brandt, a former Delaware prosecutor.