Charles “Chuckie” O’Brien is Jimmy Hoffa’s foster son, and has described Hoffa as a father figure. According to public records, O’Brien is now 85 and living in Boca Raton, Florida. O’Brien has dealt with numerous health issues in recent years, many related to his diabetes.
There are conflicting reports as to how O’Brien and Hoffa became so close. Per The New York Post, O’Brien was taken in by Hoffa after his father died when he was six years old. He had been good friends with Hoffa’s biological son, which is why Hoffa took him in. However, an NPR interview with O’Brien’s stepson, Jack Goldsmith, tells a different story. Goldsmith contends that O’Brien met Hoffa when he was nine years old, via an introduction by his mother.
Goldsmith said, “…when Hoffa became president of the union in 1957, when Chuckie was just, I think, 23 years old, he asked Chuckie to basically be a special assistant. And from that point on, from 1957 until Hoffa went to prison in 1971, Chuckie was basically always at Hoffa’s side.” Goldsmith wrote a memoir, In Hoffa’s Shadow, about his stepfather’s connection to Hoffa.
O’Brien’s relationship with his foster father, the late Teamsters union boss Jimmy Hoffa, has gone under intense speculation. For many years, O’Brien was a leading suspect in Hoffa’s abduction and murder. Frank Sheeran eventually admitted to killing Hoffa to author Charles Brandt; the apparent confession would then be released in Brandt’s biography of Sheeran, titled I Heard You Paint Houses.
There are still many who don’t believe Sheeran’s claim that he killed Hoffa alone.
O’Brien has a wife named Brenda. The couple have children, and grandchildren.
Here’s what you need to know:
O’Brien Said He Doesn’t Think the Hoffa Case ‘Will Ever Be Solved’
O’Brien, who has described Hoffa as a father figure to him, gave his last public interview in 2006. To the Associated Press, he said, “At this point, after 31 years – I don’t know how much longer God is going to keep me on this Earth, but I just don’t see it. I just don’t think it will ever be solved.”
O’Brien also called the speculation around his alleged involvement with Hoffa’s death frustrating; he said he keeps a framed photo of Hoffa and his wife on his desk, and that they were good friends. “It’s very frustrating. I have so much inside, my love for him and his family,” he explained. “How long can you keep talking to people and being honest with people?”
O’Brien was banned from contact with the Teamsters for alleged links to organized crime. He denies those links, and lamented that ban, saying that it made it difficult for him to visit friends, or even attend funerals. “I’ve been taking a beating because of people who are not legitimate people,” he said. “My family gets the brunt. I’m trying to say it’s not true, it never happened.”
O’Brien’s Wife, Brenda, Frequently Posts Photos & Updates of Their Lives to Facebook
O’Brien’s wife, Brenda, is very active on social media and frequently posts Facebook statuses about her and O’Brien’s life, marking milestones along the way. In August, Brenda wrote a Facebook post about O’Brien’s health struggles, particularly with his diabetes.
Chuck has gone many years with boots for his foot. Diabetes has plagued him most of our married life. He is tough and has gone through many bouts of pain, but he beat it and now just has his walker and diabetes tennis shoes. All sores have healed and it is a blessing. We were in Santa Monica visiting Brett and Karen and my grandchildren Nicholas and Christopher. This is around the end of his boot era. Thanks goodness.
Brenda is originally from Memphis, Tennessee. She has a Facebook page for her songwriting career. The information on the page reads, “Brenda O’Brien is a famed country songwriter from Memphis. Her songs are in keeping with classic Country, with bouncy, fun, and ROWDY, new edge!”
Chuckie O’Brien Is Accused of Driving a Car That Sheeran Says Took Hoffa to the Death House
Chuckie was one of 12 suspects named in what is called the “Hoffex” memo. Authored by the lead FBI case agent in 1976, it says this of O’Brien: “Charles L. ‘Chuckie’ O’Brien, age 41, was raised by the Hoffa family and brought into the Teamsters by JRH and supported by him. Called Tony Giacalone “Uncle Tony” but was a known liar.”
Hoffa had told his family that he was meeting with two mobsters the day he vanished: Tony Giacalone and Tony Provenzano and that they didn’t show up. O’Brien denied that Hoffa was in the Mercury Marquist Brougham that he had borrowed that day from Giacalone’s son.
The Hoffex memo says that Charles Lenton Joseph O’Brien was investigated after Hoffa died by the FBI. Authorities focused on his activities before and after Hoffa’s disappearance, his relationship with Tony Giacalone, and his use of and access to Joey Giacalone’s 1975 Mercury. The FBI interviewed O’Brien twice in August 1975.
In 2001, an article by UPI reported that FBI scientists discovered that a strand of hair in a car Chuckie drove the day Hoffa vanished had matched Hoffa’s DNA. The testing had not been available at the time.
“I loved this man more than anything. My thought has always been that this could be solved,” O’Brien told UPI. He has always denied having anything to do with Hoffa’s disappearance.
In his FBI interview at the time, O’Brien told authorities that he spent the day running errands. He claimed he borrowed the Giacalone car because the union station wagon was not available. He took a 40-pound salmon sent by a friend in Seattle to a residence where a woman helped him cut it up. He claimed he got pink watery fluid from the box on his shirt. The fluid also leaked in the car, so he went and got a car wash. He then went to an athletic club.
By Frank Sheeran’s account as told to author Charles Brandt, O’Brien drove Hoffa to a house where Sheeran ambushed him and shot the union boss in the head. However, Sheeran didn’t think O’Brien knew what was about to happen and said in the book, “I always felt sorry for Chuckie O’Brien in this whole thing, and I still do.”
But, UPI reported, no one at the club or car wash recognized O’Brien when they were shown a picture. Both of Hoffa’s biological children told UPI they think O’Brien’s actions were suspicious.