There’s a New Bedford Connection to ‘The Irishman’ [OPINION]
One of the pivotal scenes in the new film about the Mafia and the murder of Jimmy Hoffa has a direct connection to the city of New Bedford.
The Irishman is a star-studded movie directed by Martin Scorcese and released on Netflix. The movie is based on the book I Heard You Paint Houses about the life of gangster Frank Sheeran. The character of Sheeran is played by Robert DeNiro. Teamsters leader Jimmy Hoffa is played by Al Pacino, and mob lawyer Bill Bufalino is portraited by Ray Romano.
Key to the movie is the use of Teamster pension funds under the control of Jimmy Hoffa to fund Mafia-related businesses, particularly casinos in Las Vegas. To demonstrate the relationship, Scorcese inserts a scene with DeNiro, Pacino, and Romano discussing a loan to a casino to build a golf course.
That casino was The Dunes Hotel and that resort was built by New Bedford businessman Joe Sullivan and opened for business in 1955. According to the FBI, there were other partners secretly behind Mr. Sullivan, including New England Mafia boss Raymond L.S. Patriarca. From TheMobMuseum.org:
"By 1955, regarded as a “Top Hoodlum” by the FBI, an agency informant reported that Patriarca owned a “one-quarter interest in a million-dollar gambling house being built in Las Vegas, Nevada.” Although unknown at the time, that property was the Dunes Hotel, which was to open on May 23, 1955. Another informant reported on March 31 of hearing that Patriarca “in association with John Berborian, a well-known Providence gambler, and about ten other unidentified individuals, has purchased shares of stock or invested money in a gambling establishment” in Las Vegas and the “reported owner and moving force” of the casino was Joseph Sullivan, a member of a New Bedford, Massachusetts, family and widely known in illegal gambling circles in the Pawtucket-Providence area.” The FBI in Boston passed the information on to the agency’s office in Salt Lake City, which then held jurisdiction over Las Vegas."
The Irishman is a great film. It isn't a murder fest as some mob pictures tend to be, but rather a long and winding tale about the lives of men who really did bad things. And now you know the local connection to this tale of bad men.
Chris McCarthy is the host of The Chris McCarthy Show on 1420 WBSM New Bedford. He can be heard weekdays from 10 a.m. to noon. Contact him at email@example.com and follow him on Twitter @Chris_topher_Mc. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.