Brooklyn prepares for trial over Lufthansa heist featured in Goodfellas

Brooklyn prepares for trial over Lufthansa heist featured in Goodfellas 1

Vincent Asaro, accused of receiving a cut of one in all US records’ biggest cash thefts, became arrested closing yr after allegedly retaining his function secret for decades
Bonanno crime’s own family leader Vincent Asaro is escorted by FBI dealers from their Manhattan offices in New York’s ultimate year.

For many years, prosecutors say, Vincent Asaro managed to preserve hidden his function in an infamous mob heist that became immortalized in the hit movie Goodfellas. As he did so, others of his generation had been locked up or died gangland deaths.

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A frail-looking Asaro, in the end, emerged from the shadows after his arrest last year. On Monday, he will go on trial on prices that he pocketed a reduce of the $6m Lufthansa robbery at Kennedy Airport in 1978 – one in every of the largest coin thefts in American history.

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If convicted, he becomes the state-of-the-art casualty of an erosion of the Mafia’s code of silence that has decimated the aging upper echelon of New York City’s underworld, once in a while referred to as the “Oldfellas.”


Prosecutors on trial in federal court docket in Brooklyn will deliver jurors a lesson in a bygone era while the 5 Italian Mafia families had a more urge for food for brazen crimes and deadly payback for betrayals. The defense will counter by accusing the government of using shady turncoat gangsters with faded memories or incentives to lie.

Asaro, eighty, who has records of convictions for lesser mob-associated crimes, become arrested after his cousin, Gaspare Valenti, got here forward with new information about the Lufthansa heist and agreed to wear a wire to try to coax admissions out of the reputed longtime member of the Bonanno crime circle of relatives.

Prosecutors have now not revealed why the important thing witness grew to become on Asaro, even though it’s far believed he can also have held a grudge after being cheated out of a reduction of Asaro’s $750,000 take from the heist, stated Jerry Capeci, a Mafia expert who writes the ganglandnews.Com net column.

“There were 750,000 motives for this guy to cooperate,” Capeci stated.

Valenti, a Bonanno accomplice who has pleaded responsible to racketeering conspiracy, is predicted to take the witness stand to testify approximately Asaro’s alleged role in the Lufthansa heist and a gruesome homicide of a suspected mob turncoat. Other witnesses will consist of former Bonanno boss Joseph Massino, the highest-rating mobster to ever ruin the mob’s oath of omerta by way of becoming a government witness.

Asaro becomes a Bonanno soldier, with the Mafia slogan “Death before dishonor” tattooed on his forearm, in the past due 1978 whilst hooded gunmen looted a vault in Lufthansa’s shipment terminal and stole about $5m in untraceable foreign money that was being back to the United States from Germany, along with about $1m in earrings.

The theft turned into orchestrated through James “Jimmy the Gent” Burke – an overdue Lucchese crime circle of relatives partner portrayed by Robert De Niro in Goodfellas – with the blessing of Asaro, whose crime family considered the airport its turf, court docket papers stated.

Afterward, better-ranking conspirators have been expected to acquire $750,000, “however most did now not live to obtain their proportion, both due to the fact they were killed, or it turned into never given to them,” the papers said.

In one of the recordings made by the cooperating cousin, Asaro complained in a profanity-laced rant: “We by no means got our proper money, what we had been imagined to get. … Jimmy saved the whole lot.”

Prosecutors declare Asaro did get his cash and blew most of it on the racetrack due to playing trouble. As evidence of that, any other cooperator “is expected to testify that, following the heist, he saw the defendant regularly at a local music having a bet large amounts than typical and lengthening extortionate loans,” the government stated in court papers.

Asaro gave Massino, his boss in a Bonanno team, an attache case filled with gold and jewelry from the heist as a tribute, the papers said.

The windfall set the stage for a massacre portrayed in Goodfellas. In the movie, De Niro’s character will become irate over fellow mobsters’ purchases of flashy cars and furs, fearing they’ll attract regulation enforcement attention, and has some of them whacked – a plot twist based totally on the inner account of Henry Hill, the mob accomplice-became-informant, who died in 2012 and is played in the movie by Ray Liotta.

In addition to the real-existence heist, Asaro is charged in the 1969 homicide of a suspected law enforcement informant, Paul Katz, whose remains had been found during an FBI dig in 2013 at a residence as soon as occupied through Burke. Asaro told the cooperator Burke “had killed Katz with a dog chain due to the fact they believed he was a ‘rat,’” the court papers said.

Valenti, sixty-eight, additionally instructed investigators Asaro and Burke delivered Katz’s body to a vacant home in Queens where it became hid beneath a cement floor, the paper stated. In the Nineteen Eighties, at the behest of the imprisoned Burke, Asaro ordered the cooperator to dig up the remains – “a human skull, bones, and some corduroy garb fabric” – and circulate them to every other area, the papers said.