Wednesday, July 23, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

Mobsters nabbed in famed 'Goodfellas' heist

NEW YORK - More than 30 years after hooded gunmen pulled a $6 million airport heist dramatized in the hit Martin Scorsese movie "Goodfellas," an elderly reputed mobster was arrested at his New York City home yesterday and charged in the robbery and a 1969 murder.

Vincent Asaro, 78, was named along with his son, Jerome, and three other defendants in a wide-ranging indictment alleging murder, robbery, extortion, arson and other crimes from the late 1960s through last year. The Asaros, both identified as captains in the Bonanno organized crime family, pleaded not guilty through their lawyers and were ordered held without bail at a brief appearance in federal court in Brooklyn.

The elder Asaro's lawyer, Gerald McMahon, told reporters outside court that his client was framed by shady turncoat gangsters, including former Bonanno boss Joseph Massino - the highest-ranking member of the city's five organized crime families to break the mob's vow of silence.

The indictment accused Vincent Asaro of helping to direct the Dec. 11, 1978, Lufthansa Airlines heist at Kennedy Airport - one of the largest cash thefts in American history.

The gunmen looted a vault in the airline's cargo terminal and stole about $5 million in untraceable U.S. currency that was being returned to the United States from Germany, along with about $1 million in jewelry. The cash was never found.

According to court papers, an unidentified mob associate who pleaded guilty told investigators that he participated in the robbery at the direction of Asaro. The theft was allegedly hatched by James "Jimmy the Gent" Burke, a late Lucchese crime family associate close to Asaro.

Each robber was supposed to be paid $750,000, but the cooperating witness said "most did not receive their share, either because they were killed first or it was never given to them."

The papers say the cooperator recorded a conversation he had with Asaro in 2011 in which the pair discussed being slighted.

"We never got our right money, what we were supposed to get," Asaro said, according to the court papers. "Jimmy Burke kept everything."

ASSOCIATED PRESS
Also on Philly.com
Stay Connected