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'Mafia wife:' husband killed Hoffa, family is Sopranos' model

Posted: 02/13/06 at 5:32 pm EST

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (AP) -- A self-proclaimed "Mafia wife" said Monday that her family history was improperly used as the model for the TV series "The Sopranos" and that her late husband once told her he had murdered former Teamsters president Jimmy Hoffa.

Lynda Milito, 59, said her husband Louie Milito told her in 1988 during an argument while they were driving over New York's Verrazano Narrows Bridge that he had killed Hoffa in Detroit and dumped his remains near one of the bridge's stanchions.

Louie Milito, a high ranking or "made" member of the Gambino crime family, disappeared two weeks after that conversation and is presumed dead.

"I really do feel that Louie did it," said Lynda Milito, who has written one book about her life titled "Mafia Wife" and is writing another that includes the Hoffa claims. "Louie was as tough as could be. You wouldn't want to go near his punch."

Milito, now a resident of Boca Raton, made her claims at a news conference where she also threatened to sue HBO, Tribeca Productions and a screenwriter for allegedly taking her family's story without compensating her.

Milito contends that "The Sopranos" contains numerous parallels to her life that were somehow taken from information she shared with a writer for a TV movie called "Witness to the Mob" that first aired in May 1998.

Among these purported parallels: the Sopranos had ducks in their backyard pool; the Militos had ducks in a backyard pond in Staten Island, N.Y.; Tony Soprano loves to repeatedly watch "The Godfather;" Louie Milito watched it dozens of times; Tony Soprano couldn't stand up to his mother; Louie Milito couldn't either. Both families had an older daughter and a younger son and both lived in suburban houses on hills.

Several actors who would go on to "The Sopranos," including Michael Imperioli, also appeared in the "Witness" movie. Imperioli, who plays Tony Soprano's nephew Christopher on the series, was cast as Louie Milito in the earlier film.

"What do I want from them? Fair compensation," Milito said. "I'm just trying to do what's right."

HBO spokeswoman Tobe Becker said there was no merit to Milito's claims. The series, created by David Chase, begins its sixth season on March 12.

"'The Sopranos' is wholly the creation of David Chase and his team of writers," Becker said.

Tribeca executives did not immediately return a telephone call seeking comment. A representative of the talent agency that handles screenwriter Stanley Weiser, the Paradigm Agency of Beverly Hills, Calif., said the firm would have no comment.

As for Hoffa, Milito's claims are the latest in a long list of theories that have surfaced over the years since his 1975 disappearance near Detroit. One of the most famous is the unproven contention that Hoffa is buried under Giants Stadium in New Jersey.

Dawn Clenney, spokesman for the FBI's Detroit field office, said she had not previously heard of Milito but that every tip involving Hoffa is investigated.

"It's still a pending case," Clenney said. "We run these leads out to see if there's anything to them."

Hoffa was last seen July 30, 1975 at a restaurant in Bloomfield Township outside Detroit. Hoffa was on his way to a meeting with New Jersey Teamsters boss Anthony Provenzano and a Detroit Mafia captain, Anthony Giacalone, and investigators believe Hoffa was killed to prevent him from regaining the presidency of the Teamsters.

Last February, investigators ripped up the floorboards of a home in Detroit after a former Delaware Teamsters official was quoted in a book as saying he had shot Hoffa inside the house. The FBI later determined that there was blood on the floorboards but it was not Hoffa's.

Hoffa's son, James P. Hoffa, is now president of the Teamsters.

(Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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