HEARD YOU PAINT HOUSES is a fascinating account of a dark side of American history. The book’s title comes from the first words Jimmy Hoffa ever spoke to Frank “the Irishman” Sheeran. To paint a house is to kill a man. The paint is the blood that splatters on the walls and floors.
Frank Sheeran lived a long, violent, passionate life. As a boy he took on older kids in bar fights so his dad could win free beer. During World War II he was a highly decorated infantryman with 411 days of active combat duty and a willingness to follow orders. “When an officer would tell you to take a couple of German prisoners back behind the line and for you to ‘hurry back,’ you did what you had to do.” He became a hustler and hit man, working for legendary crime boss Russell Bufalino and eventually becoming one of only two non-Italians on the FBI’s famous La Cosa Nostra list. He was also a truck driver who was made head of the Teamsters local in Wilmington, Delaware, by his good friend Jimmy Hoffa. When Hoffa disappeared on July 30, 1975, Sheeran became a leading suspect, and every serious study of the Hoffa disappearance alleges that Sheeran was there.
For the first time the Irishman tells all — a lifetime of payoffs (including hand-delivering bags of cash to Nixon’s attorney general John Mitchell) and manipulation (supporting Joe Biden’s election to the Senate with a Teamster action) — for the book that would become his deathbed confession. He died on December 14, 2003.
Sheeran also provides shocking new information on notorious mob hits: Joseph “Crazy Joey” Gallo — blown away as he celebrated his forty-third birthday in New York’s Little Italy; Salvatore “Sally Bugs” Briguglio — long suspected of being a player in the plot to kill Hoffa. And offers new insights to the crusading of Robert Kennedy and the death of John F. Kennedy.
This historic account is based on interviews of Frank Sheeran by Charles Brandt, who researched, cross-checked, and illuminated what Sheeran told him and turned it all into a gripping narrative that is sure to become an instant true crime classic.
"'I Heard You Paint Houses'" is one of the best accounts of the disappearance of Jimmy Hoffa, former Teamsters union boss and one of the most powerful men in America.
...One of Sheeran's virtues was his gift as a storyteller; one of his flaws was his tendency to murder - in mobster jargon, "to paint houses." ...From what Sheeran said, it is assumed that he painted several houses for Hoffa. And as a reward, he was able to climb the ladder in the union, until he was made head of the Teamsters local in Wilmington, Del. Although he professed his loyalty to Hoffa - he said on one occasion, "I'll be a Hoffa man 'til they pat my face with a shovel and steal my cufflinks" - Sheeran acknowledged that he was the one who killed the Teamsters boss...On July 30, 1975, Hoffa disappeared. Sheeran explains how he did it, in prose reminiscent of the best gangster films. "Jimmy Hoffa got shot twice at decent range - not too close or the paint splatters back at you - in the back of the head, behind his right ear," said Sheeran. And then, this magnificently laconic finale: "My friend didn't suffer."
- Associated Press
"Brandt's book gives new meaning to the term 'guilty pleasure.' . . . Sheeran's account of Hoffa's killing certainly appears credible."
- New York Times Book Review
"Sheeran's confession that he killed Hoffa in the manner described in the book is supported by the forensic evidence, is entirely credible and solves the Hoffa mystery."
- Michael Baden, M.D., former Chief Medical Examinaer of the City of New York
"I'm fully convinced - now - that Sheeran was in fact the man who did the deed. And I'm impressed, too, by the book's readability and by its factual accuracy in all areas on which I'm qualified to pass judgment. Charles Brandt has solved the Hoffa mystery."
- Prof. Arthur Sloane, author of Hoffa
"The book already has impressed law enforcement officials enough to jump start new activities in the case . . . It's a terrific read."
- Kansas City Star
"Unlike similar claims by many other self-confessed executioners, law enforcement authorities say Sheeran may well be telling the truth."
- Jerry Capeci's Gang Land News
"A page-turning account of one man's descent into the mob."
- Delaware News Journal