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

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Hostage describes Lufthansa heist ordeal

In harrowing detail, a former Lufthansa Airlines worker on Tuesday described the night in 1978 when mafia bandits descended on a cargo area and subdued staffers at gunpoint before pillaging a vault packed with more than $6 million in cash and jewels.

Rolf Rebmann told jurors at accused Lufthansa heist mobster Vincent Asaro’s Brooklyn federal court trial Tuesday that he was toiling in the wee morning hours at the Kennedy Airport terminal when he heard a commotion.

“I heard a noise, someone hollering at the back,” Rebmann recalled. “I went over to investigate. I opened the other door and there was a van parked there and a guy standing next to the van.”

Not knowing that he was about to become a reluctant witness to one of the biggest robberies in history — one that would come to be immortalized in Martin Scorsese’s 1990 mob classic “Goodfellas” — Rebmann made a polite inquiry of one of the intruders.

“I asked if I could help him,” Rebmann said. “He said , ‘No’ and stuck a gun in my face and told me to get into the van face-down.
Rolf Rebmann outside court on Oct. 27.

The no-nonsense Bonanno bandits warned Rebmann and other Lufthansa employees herded inside a cargo van that running their mouths about the stickup job could get them killed.

Demanding the wallets and car keys of the hostages, the wiseguys reminded them: “We have your wallets. So we know where you live.”

It was a threat that would be repeated in another instance by Robert De Niro’s Jimmy Conway in the 1990 film: “You might know who we are, but we KNOW who you are.”

Meanwhile, other members of the robbery crew had accounted for everyone except a man named Rolf.

“We got everybody but we can’t find this guy Rolf!” one of the mobsters exclaimed, not knowing he had been stuffed into the van alongside another captive staffer, Rebmann testified.

After realizing that he was accounted for, Rebmann was made to open the bay doors to the interior of the cargo area and was then led inside with a gun at his back, he told jurors.

He was eventually placed into the lunch room alongside his colleagues and the bandits drove the van inside the facility.
The Lufthansa heist orchestrated by mobster Vincent Asaro was depicted in Martin Scorsese’s 1990 mob classic, ‘Goodfellas.’

“They told me to lay down on the floor and that was that,” Rebmann said. The crooks repeatedly told the tied-up employees to stay calm if they didn’t want any violent complications.

“Do as you’re told,” Rebmann recalled hearing. “We don’t want to hurt anybody.”

With the final obstacle to the treasure immobilized, the crew then entered a vault and discovered $6 million in currency and valuables.

The heist team eventually created a human chain and loaded up the cargo van with the loot before speeding off into the night.

Dazed and frightened, the Lufthansa staffers finally dared to stir.

“Somebody said there is nobody there,” Rebmann recalled. “And that’s when we all got up.”



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