After watching “The Irishman,” many people were surprised to learn that Jimmy Hoffa had connections outside of Chicago. Some of his most crucial legal moments happened in Nashville.
Hoffa’s ties to Tennessee date to 1950, when he sent Don Vestal to head up the local chapter of the Teamsters in Nashville.
While Congress investigated labor racketeering and management malpractice later in the decade, Tennessee witnesses recounted almost 200 acts of violence in the region in less than five years.
The result would be an epic legal battle between Hoffa and Robert F. Kennedy.
Hoffa Went on Trial for the Fourth Time in 1962
The government put Jimmy Hoffa on trial multiple times during the 1950s and 60s. His fourth one happened in Nashville in 1962. One of the most notable incidents during the proceedings happened with Warren Swanson fired a pellet at Hoffa inside the courtroom.
Swanson was acquitted of the crime after being found to be insane.
Hoffa was acquitted in the 1962 trial after the jury deadlocked, but his legal woes wouldn’t stop there. Officials accused him of bribing a police officer who was married to one of the jurors in his case. A judge ordered a grand jury to investigate. Hoffa would return to Nashville in 1963 to plead not guilty against those charges.
The authorities shifted the trial’s venue to Chattanooga in 1964. Hoffa was convicted on jury tampering charges and sent to prison for eight years.
Hoffa Made Many Tennessee Appearances in the 1950s
The goal of the Teamsters in the 1950s was to establish unionized labor chapters throughout Tennessee. Their outward goal was to promote higher wages and better employment security, although internal goals were likely much different.
The union had to build up support for their actions in Nashville and throughout the state. Hoffa would visit on several occasions to make speeches and offer logistical support. During one event in 1959, he spoke to almost 2,000 people at the War Memorial Auditorium.
Hoffa also opposed John F. Kennedy’s run for president in 1960 by calling him unfit because of his police mentality.