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Sunday, October 22, 2023

Longtime Bonanno captain linked to Lufthansa heist in Goodfellas is dead at 86

A notorious Bonanno crime family capo once linked to the infamous Lufthansa heist at JFK airport depicted in the movie “Goodfellas,” has died three years after he was released from prison for health reasons.

Vincent Asaro, 86, was part of a cadre of mobsters charged with making off with nearly $6 million in the 1978 airport robbery. He beat the rap in 2015 — only to get jailed on an unrelated road rage arson conviction.

In 2020 the ailing capo, who had suffered a stroke behind bars, was granted compassionate release amid fears that he was vulnerable to the COVID-19 virus.

Asaro died Saturday, according to reports and sources.

The former mobster was born in Ozone Park in 1937. He followed his father and uncle into the organized crime business and rose in the ranks of the Bonanno family to become a captain by the mid-1970s.

He was part of a crew that pulled off the Lufthansa theft orchestrated by James “Jimmy the Gent” Burke, a Lucchese family associate portrayed by Robert DeNiro in “Goodfellas.”

The crew — including gangster Tommy “Tommy Two Guns” DeSimone, portrayed by Joe Pesci in the movie — plotted the heist at Robert’s Lounge, Burke’s dive bar in Queens, expecting a $2 million take.

On Dec. 11, 1978, the gang busted into a Lufthansa hangar at the Queens airport and made off with dozens of boxes stuffed with cash and jewelry valued over $6 million at the time.

“We loaded 50 boxes,” mob turncoat Gaspare Valenti, Asaro’s cousin, testified at the 2015 trial. “There were burlap sacks of gold chains, crates of watches, metal boxes with three drawers in them — and each drawer had diamonds and emeralds in it.

“And we loaded everything into the van,” Gaspare testified. “It was euphoria. We thought there was $2 million in cash and there was $6 million. Without the gold. Without the German money.”

Despite his own cousin’s testimony against him, a Brooklyn jury acquitted Asaro for his alleged role in the robbery and the unrelated 1969 gangland murder of mob associate Paul Katz.

Valenti, who faced up to 20 years in prison, got off with probation for cooperating with the feds.

The respite wouldn’t last long — Asaro was busted again in 2017.

The mobster sent a crew of henchmen, including the grandson of former Gambino crime boss John “Dapper Don” Gotti, to torch the car of a driver who cut him off at a traffic light on April 1, 2012.

“I made arrangements for someone to take care of it and it was done,” Asaro told the judge.

Asaro pleaded guilty and was sentenced to eight years behind bars until his early release in 2020.

The exact cause of Asaro’s death was unclear. According to his family, Asaro’s funeral will be held Friday at St. Helen’s Catholic church in Queens. 



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