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

Monday, June 17, 2013

Cops dig for body at home of dead Goodfellas mobster

Organized-crime investigators swooped in on the Queens home of James “Jimmy the Gent” Burke yesterday — digging for human remains in the driveway, back yard and basement of the late Lucchese killer made famous by Robert De Niro in the film “Goodfellas.”

Acting on a tip, FBI and NYPD agents showed up at the Ozone Park triplex at around 8 a.m., carrying sledgehammers, trowels, a pickax, work gloves and other excavation items, sources said.

WHACK! The scene in “Goodfellas” in which characters played by Robert De Niro, Joe Pesci and Ray Liotta kill “Billy Batts” (played by Frank Vincent).

The dig is part of “an ongoing organized-crime investigation,” one source confirmed.

“They’re looking for a body,” another source told The Post.

One source said the search is connected to a “very old’’ case dating back at least three decades.

Regina Belardinelli, the daughter of the couple who’ve been renting the home for 40 years, said probers told her they were focused on the basement.

Burke, a tough Irish-American thug who became a Lucchese family associate, was the reputed mastermind of the 1978 robbery of $5 million in cash and $1 million in jewels from a Lufthansa vault at Kennedy Airport.

Burke, who died of cancer behind bars in 1996, was believed to have later executed many of the men who helped carry out the plot, then the biggest heist in US history.

In the 1990 Martin Scorsese film “Goodfellas,” De Niro played Jimmy Conway, a character clearly influenced by Burke, from the adaptation of Nicholas Pileggi’s book “Wiseguy.”

The film and book were based on the life story of Henry Hill, a fellow Lucchese associate, played in the movie by Ray Liotta. Hill first began working with Burke as a teen and later became a government witness against him and their Lucchese boss, Paul Vario, played by Paul Sorvino in the movie.

Law-enforcement sources said yesterday’s dig is not related to the Lufthansa case or subsequent crew-member murders.

“But they wouldn’t mind if they came across a coffee can full of the money,” cracked one source.

Only $20,000 from the massive theft was ever recovered.

The rental home, on 102nd Road, is still owned by Burke’s daughters, Robin and Catherine.

Catherine is married to Bonanno crime capo and convicted hit man Anthony “Bruno” Indelicato.

Burke’s widow, Mickey, who lives with daughters at a different home in Howard Beach, was surprised to hear about the dig.

“The FBI didn’t tell me, I have no idea what’s going on [or] what they’d be looking for,” she said.

Yesterday afternoon, FBI agents could be seen sifting through dirt, scooping it into 4-foot-long boxes, shaking it and then scooping smaller amounts into another container.

In the back yard, a 1-foot deep, grave-sized hole was dug and marked with orange flags, covered by a blue tent.

At one point, diggers hit a water main that forced a shutdown of service to some homes on the street.

Investigators also put up a blue tent in the driveway of the home, with a tarp that extended to the curb, It drew a steady stream of neighborhood onlookers.

“I hear they’re looking for the money, too,” said neighbor Miguel Torres. “They never found the money from JFK. It’s possible it’s here, it’s possible.”

Investigators said they aren’t looking for the remains of Tommy DeSimone, who was Burke’s best friend and believed to have been murdered in January 1979 in retaliation for the 1970 killing of Gambino member William “Billy Batts” Devino.

DeSimone, portrayed by Joe Pesci, who won an Oscar for his “Goodfellas” role, was reported missing by his wife and never seen again.

Devino was a Gambino made man whom DeSimone and Burke beat to death after a drunken confrontation.lee; BLANCA; Exported.;
The late James "Jimmy The Gent" Burke was a member of the Lucchese family.



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