Updated news on the Gambino, Genovese, Bonanno, Lucchese, and Colombo Organized Crime Families of New York City.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Feds pick up 5 Bonanno mobsters for the infamous 1978 Lufthansa heist at JFK



The FBI escorts Vincent Asaro (center), considered a ruling member of the Bonanno crime family, Thursday. He was arrested in connection to the 1978 heist at Kennedy Airport. He also faces a murder charge.

A top Bonanno family “Goodfella,” in a bust 35 years in coming, was nabbed Thursday in the $6 million Lufthansa Airlines heist at the center of Martin Scorsese’s mob classic.

FBI agents rounded up old-school mobster Vincent Asaro and four other suspects, including several top-echelon family members, before their expected Thursday afternoon arraignment in Brooklyn Federal Court.

Asaro, considered a ruling member of the crime family, was arrested with his son Jerome Asaro, capo Thomas Di Fiore, John Rigano and Jack Bonventre on various charges of racketeering, extortion, robbery and solicitation to murder.

Jerome Asaro is walked out of Federal Plaza in Manhattan on Thursday.

The quintet was ratted out by a cousin of Vincent Asaro, authorities said. The informant — a participant in the heist — even wore a wire after the feds reopened the investigation in June 2013.

Asaro and his son plotted to whack the cousin because they suspected that he was a snitch, authorities said.


Thomas Di Fiore (center) was also one of five men charged in Thursday's wide-ranging indictment.

“These ‘Goodfellas’ thought they had a license to steal, a license to kill and a license to do whatever they wanted,” said FBI Assistant Director George Venizelos.

“It may be decades later, but the FBI’s determination to investigate and bring wise guys to justice will never waver.”

The new investigation began after the informant steered the feds to a secret burial site in the backyard of an Ozone Park home owned by the late James "Jimmy the Gent" Burke, the mastermind of the airport heist.

Jack Bonventre (left), another suspect charged in Thursday's indictment.

The victim, Paul Katz, was killed in 1969. Court papers indicated that Vincent Asaro and Burke used a dog chain to strangle Katz in the basement — and buried him beneath the cement floor.

Burke, immortalized in the classic film “Goodfellas” by actor Robert De Niro, died of cancer in 1996 while serving a 20-year murder sentence.


John Ragano (left) was charged with four others Thursday in a wide-ranging indictment that covered a number of crimes and offenders.

But his greatest hit was the well-planned robbery of the Lufthansa cargo terminal on Dec. 11, 1978, with a haul of nearly $6 million in cash and jewelry.

Each bandit was supposed to receive $750,000 in cash, but most were slain or stiffed out of their windfall, court papers indicated.

Among the co-conspirators was mob informant Henry Hill, whose story became the inspiration for the book “Wiseguy” and the Scorsese movie.

A 1978 Lufthansa cargo heist at Kennedy Airport resulted in a $6 million theft of cash and jewelry.

“We never got the right money, what we was supposed to get, we got f----- all around,” Vincent Asaro complained to the informant. “Got f----- all around. That f------ Jimmy (Burke) kept everything.”

Burke, an associate of the Luchese crime family, did not live in the house on 102nd Road where the remains were discovered.

Heist organizer James "Jimmy the Gent" Burke was portrayed by Robert De Niro (second from left) in the film ‘Goodfellas.’

He allegedly asked the Bonanno mobsters to join in the hit as a favor.

Vincent Asaro faces life behind bars if convicted, while his co-defendants all face up to 20 years in prison.

Vincent Asaro’s rap sheet includes 21 arrests since 1957 for crimes including rape, bank robbery, kidnapping and assault. The charges, in many of the cases, were later dismissed.

Even at the spry age of 76, Asaro punched a man in the face at Belmont Park racetrack, kicked another man, and challenged a crew of men associated with the Gambino family outside a social club in Ozone Park.

In 2005, after a group of young men he confronted outside a bodega said they wouldn't fight an old man, Asaro ripped off his shirt and glasses and said, “Let's go.”

http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/nyc-crime/feds-charge-mobster-1978-lufthansa-heist-kennedy-airport-article-1.1588523


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