Chuckie O’Brien, known as Jimmy Hoffa’s adopted son, dies at 86

O’Brien once considered suspect in Hoffa’s disappearance

Chuckie O’Brien, a close associate of Jimmy Hoffa, has died at age 86 at his home in Florida, according to O’Brien’s stepson Jack Goldsmith. More:

DETROIT – Chuckie O’Brien, a close associate of Jimmy Hoffa, has died at age 86 at his home in Florida, according to O’Brien’s stepson Jack Goldsmith.

O’Brien was known as Hoffa’s adopted son due to their once close relationship. He was suspected of being one of the men in the car on the ride from the parking lot of the Machus Red Fox restaurant on July 30, 1975, the day Hoffa went missing. That parking lot in Bloomfield Township is apparently one of the last places anyone would have seen Hoffa.

But O’Brien had an alibi about delivering a large frozen fish to Teamster executive Bobby Holmes and his wife.

“I’m carrying it in the house, and she’s a particular house keeper, and she’s yelling at me, 'You’re ruining my floor. You’re getting that water and blood all over,” said O’Brien.

Holmes stood by O’Brien’s alibi.

“(My wife) told me that she had to wash the kitchen floor, and mop up the blood, or the water or blood, whatever it was, that was in the garage,” said Holmes.

Goldsmith broke the news of his stepfather’s death on his website this week, writing:

“Chuckie was most famous for two things. In the 1950s, 1960s and early 1970s, he was the closest aide and near-constant companion of Jimmy Hoffa, the infamous and influential leader of the Teamsters Union. And following Hoffa’s disappearance on July 30, 1975, Chuckie became a leading suspect when the government publicly accused him of picking up Hoffa and driving him to his death. The latter charge is, I believe, untrue. But practically everyone believed it. This accusation was repeated in story after story and book after book and, most recently, in the movie “The Irishman.” Chuckie lived the last 44 years of his life under that shadow ... To me, Chuckie was, most of all, a great father. He became my father when I was at a vulnerable point in my life at age 12. Despite the unbearable pressures of the Hoffa investigation, Chuckie was a constant source of love, stability, encouragement and even inspiration. I broke with him in my 20s for reasons I came to regret deeply. But in 2004 I sought his forgiveness and he gave it without question. One of the great joys of my life was our time together during the last 16 years, when we learned a great deal about one another and grew very close."

Chuckie O'Brien (WDIV)

O’Brien was portrayed by actor Jesse Plemons in “The Irishman” movie released last year. Goldsmith, who is also the author of the book “In Hoffa’s Shadow: A Stepfather, a Disappearance in Detroit, and My Search for the Truth," wrote in a New York Times op-ed that “The Irishman” film is “one of the greatest fake movies” that O’Brien had ever seen.

At the time, Goldsmith said his stepfather was not doing well physically and had “dreaded the release of the film."

Charles "Chuckie" Lenton O'Brien (Jack Goldsmith)

Related: Is Jimmy Hoffa really buried under the Renaissance Center?

Rise and fall of Jimmy Hoffa: Listen to all of ‘Shattered’ podcast Season 4 now

When you hear the name Jimmy Hoffa, you probably think of the former Teamster boss’ iconic disappearance, but his story is much more than a murder mystery.

It’s about power, loyalty, betrayal, organized labor and organized crime. It’s a story about how far people will go to get what they want.

Once you start looking into Hoffa, you find yourself down a rabbit hole of dark tunnels. You look at the Teamsters Union and end up at Richard Nixon, Bobby Kennedy and the JFK assassination. All of these roads lead back to Hoffa’s obsession with power.

There was nothing he wouldn’t do to have it, and hold onto it, and once he lost everything, how far would he go to get it back?

Listen to the full podcast.

About the Author:

Dave Bartkowiak Jr. is the digital managing editor for ClickOnDetroit.