Bill Bufalino

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Bill Bufalino
William Eugene Bufalino

(1918-04-13)April 13, 1918
DiedMay 12, 1990(1990-05-12) (aged 72)
Resting placeHoly Sepulchre Cemetery, Michigan, U.S.
NationalityUnited States
Alma materDickinson School of Law
Marie Antoinette Meli
(m. 1945)
RelativesRussell Bufalino ("cousin")[1]
Angelo Meli (uncle-in-law)
Vincent Meli (brother-in-law)

William Eugene Bufalino (/ˌbʌfəˈln/; April 13, 1918 – May 12, 1990) was an American attorney who represented the International Brotherhood of Teamsters (IBT) from 1947 until 1971. He retired in 1982. Bufalino worked closely with Jimmy Hoffa until 1971.[2] Bufalino died on May 12, 1990.

Early life[edit]

Bufalino was born on April 13, 1918, in Pittston, Pennsylvania, to Salvatore and Louise Bufalino, Italian immigrants from Montedoro, Sicily.[3] He was one of nine children in a coal mining family. He studied for the Roman Catholic priesthood for two years before switching to law. He graduated from Dickinson School of Law in 1942 and served in World War II as a lieutenant in the Army's Judge Advocate General Corps.[4]

In 1945, after he returned from the Army, Bufalino married Marie Antoinette Meli, sister of Detroit mobster Vincent Meli[5] and niece of crime boss Angelo Meli,[6] then began practicing law in 1947.[4] Bufalino had a son, William Jr., and four daughters, Louise, Grace Ann, Toni and Fran.[4]


Bufalino represented union leader Jimmy Hoffa for nearly 25 years. He helped the union and Hoffa fight racketeering charges. Bufalino represented the union in seven trials winning five. Hoffa was eventually jailed for jury tampering.[4]

Bufalino was a Teamster official for 20 years serving as president of Local 985 in the Detroit-area. A Senate investigation portrayed Local 985 as "a collection agency for gangster-dominated operators". Bufalino was repeatedly accused of Mafia connections. He sued Senator John L. McClellan, an Arkansas Democrat, and Robert F. Kennedy for damaging his reputation with accusations of connections to organized crime. He lost the lawsuit.[4]

Hoffa disappeared on July 30, 1975. Bufalino claimed Hoffa was killed by the Central Intelligence Agency because of his knowledge of an alleged government plot to use Mafia members to assassinate Cuban president Fidel Castro.[7] Bufalino said Hoffa was critical of Robert F. Kennedy and used surveillance expert Bernard Spindel to bug Marilyn Monroe's home to spy on Kennedy.[citation needed]


Bufalino died of leukemia on May 12, 1990, at Holy Cross Hospital in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.[4] He is buried in Holy Sepulchre Cemetery in Michigan.[7]

In popular culture[edit]

Bufalino is portrayed by Ray Romano in Martin Scorsese's 2019 crime film The Irishman.[8]


  1. ^ Brandt, Charles (2004). "I Heard You Paint Houses": Frank "The Irishman" Sheeran and the Inside Story of the Mafia, the Teamsters and the Last Ride of Jimmy Hoffa. Hanover, New Hampshire: Steerforth Press. ISBN 978-1-58642-077-2. OCLC 54897800. Archived from the original on 2011-10-12.
  2. ^ "William E. Bufalino Sr.; Attorney for Teamsters Union, Jimmy Hoffa". Los Angeles Times. May 21, 1990. Retrieved March 15, 2018. The attorney ended his lengthy relationship with Hoffa in 1971, four years before the labor leader disappeared.
  3. ^ "Atty. Bufalino Hoffa's Choice Monitor Board". Pittston Gazette. March 25, 1960. p. 1. Retrieved July 1, 2020 – via Attorney Bufalino was born April 13, 1918, in Pittston, the son of the late Salvatore and Louise Bufalino, Italian immigrants. open access
  4. ^ a b c d e f Fowler, Glenn (May 15, 1990). "William Bufalino Sr., 72, Lawyer For Hoffa and Teamsters' Union". The New York Times. p. 6. Retrieved March 15, 2018. Bufalino was born in Pittston, Pa., one of nine children in a coal miner's family. He studied for the Roman Catholic priesthood for two years but switched to career in law and received a degree from the Dickinson School of Law in 1942. After World War II, in which he served as a lieutenant in the Army's Judge Advicate General Corps, he entered private law practice and in 1947 began his association with the teamsters [...] is survived by his wife, the former Marie Antoinette Meli, a son, William Jr., and four daughters, Louise Blake, Grace Ritter, Toni DeClaire and Fran Arent, all of the Detroit area. [...] William E. Bufalino Sr., a lawyer and associate of the former teamster leader James R. Hoffa, died of leukemia on Staursay at Holy Cross Hospital in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. He was 72 years old.
  5. ^ "MARIE A. TONI BUFALINO". December 6, 2002. Retrieved July 1, 2020. Beloved wife of the late William. [...] Sister of Vince Meli.
  6. ^ McKennett, Hannah (November 8, 2019). "Meet Bill Bufalino, The Lawyer Who Abandoned Jimmy Hoffa Right Before His Disappearance". All That's Interesting. Retrieved July 1, 2020. Three years later, Bill Bufalino fell in love and married Marie Antoinette Meli, the niece of Detroit crime boss Angelo Meli.
  7. ^ a b "Union Ex-Teamster attorney Bufalino dies". Detroit Free Press. May 13, 1990. p. 18. Retrieved July 1, 2020 – via After Hoffa disappeared in 1975 from a Bloomfield Township parking lot, the lawyer often was asked what he thought has happened. Mr. Bufalino theorized the CIA had asked Hoffa to have Chicago Mafia boss Sam Giancana arrange for assassination of Cuban leader Fidel Castro. [...] According to Mr. Bufalino's theory, because Hoffa was involved in the intrigue, he had to be killed to insure his silence. [...] with entombment in Holy Sepulchre Mausoleum, Southfield. open access
  8. ^ Holmes, Adam (July 15, 2017). "The Irishman Has Added Ray Romano, Here's Who He'll Play". CINEMABLEND. Retrieved March 15, 2018. According to THR, Ray Romano will appear in The Irishman as Bill Bufalino,

External links[edit]