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

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Bonanno rat claims Lufthansa heist money was spent on animated movie about ferrets

Dominick Cicale writes in a new book that he knows what happened to the $6 million loot stolen in the infamous Lufthansa heist at Kennedy Airport.
Mob veteran Vincent "Vinny Gorgeous" Basciano blew some of the cash from the heist on a film project about an animated ferret, according to the book.

A mob rat claims in a new book that he knows what happened to the $6 million loot stolen in the infamous Lufthansa heist at Kennedy Airport, the Daily News has learned.

In a 52-page e-book called “The Mystery of the Lufthansa Airlines Heist,” ex-Bonanno capo Dominick Cicale contends that his Mafia mentor, Vincent "Vinny Gorgeous" Basciano got his claws on the stashed cash and blew a chunk of it in a film project about an animated ferret and the rest he gambled away at casinos.

Cicale and co-author Robert Sberna paint a perfect scene, writing that Basciano disclosed the untold story on Dec. 14, 2001, over dinner at the fabled Rao’s restaurant in East Harlem.

At the table were Cicale, Basciano, and capo Anthony "Bruno" Indelicato, the son-in-law of the Lufthansa robbery mastermind James "Jimmy the Gent" Burke, who was immortalized by actor Robert De Niro in the classic film “Goodfellas.”

Lufthansa robbery mastermind James Burke (c.) is taken to court.

"The Mystery of the Lufthansa Airlines Heist: A Wiseguy Tells All" by Roberty Sberna and Dominick Cicale.

It’s unclear whether the trio were eating lemon chicken or meatballs, but the topic turned to Burke’s secret stash.

“Leaning closer to hear the two capos’ voices amidst the chatter of conversation and the jukebox in Rao’s, Dominick listened as Vinny explained that Jimmy Burke had asked a friend to rent a safety deposit box at a bank in Queens,” they wrote.

“Burke then placed between $2 million and $4 million in the box. He gave the keys to the box to his two daughters (Cathy and Robin).”

“In late 1998, when Bruno first told Vinny about the safety deposit box containing the Lufthansa cash, Vinny came up with the idea to approach Robin with a scheme, while keeping it a secret from Cathy.”

Basciano’s scheme was making a cartoon called “Ferretina” with the late film producer Frank "Frankie Sardo" Avianca, whose research showed that it was a can’t-miss because 20 million Americans owned ferrets.

Basciano and Indelicato convinced Robin Burke to finance “Ferretina” with the Lufthansa cash, Cicale claims. About $250,000 went to the animated project, which was a love story about ferrets that travel from Europe to America.

But the film was never made and Basciano kept dipping into the Lufthansa funds, blowing it in Las Vegas and at Foxwoods.

According to the book, from 1999 to 2000, Vinny and Bruno made several trips to the safety deposit box, taking out $200,000 to $500,000 at a time.

Ray Liotta, Robert De Niro, Paul Sorvino and Joe Pesci appeared in "Goodfellas" in 1990.

Reached by phone Friday, Cathy Burke chuckled and said, “I don’t know what you’re talking about,” and promised to call back — but didn’t.

A former law enforcement official who worked on the Lufthansa case called Cicale’s tale “preposterous.”

“A lot of the money went out as tribute to the heads of the five crime families and (Jimmy) Burke put money in drug deals and dress factories in Queens,” the source said.

If James Burke was alive, surely Basciano and Indelicato would have been dead men if he found about the scheme.

He had several crew members whacked for blowing their cut of the robbery on mink furs and a pink Cadillac.

“Not only did Vinny lose all of the Lufthansa money, but he also took $40,000 from the safety deposit box that had been earmarked for college tuition for (Jimmy Burke’s granddaughter),” Cicale wrote.
Police are seen parked beside a stolen black van discovered in front of 595 E. 95th St. in Brooklyn on Dec. 13, 1978. They suspected the van, reported stolen from Queens, was used by thieves who escaped with more than $5 million in cash and jewels from a Kennedy Airport hangar.

Cicale ratted out Basciano and testified twice against him. While he mentioned the ferret movie project, he never told prosecutors or the FBI about the Lufthansa money, sources said.

He claims that when Cathy Burke found the safety deposit box plundered in 2004, “she was so angry at Bruno that she nearly ended her marriage to him.”

Basciano is currently serving a life sentence at the Supermax prison and Indelicato is due to be released in 2023.

Later this year, Bonanno capo Vincent Asaro will go on trial for his role in the Lufthansa heist, the only mobster ever charged with the spectacular heist.



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