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Sunday 31 August 2014

Suspected mobster charged over 'Goodfellas' airport heist

Tom Hays

Published 24/01/2014 | 02:30

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Vincent Asaro is escorted by FBI agents in New York yesterday in connection with 1978 Lufthansa heist at Kennedy airport

An elderly reputed mobster was arrested at his New York City home yesterday and charged with a 1969 murder and the $6m, 1978 airport robbery dramatised in the Martin Scorsese movie 'Goodfellas'.

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Vincent Asaro (78) was named along with his son Jerome and three other defendants in a wide-ranging indictment alleging murder, robbery, extortion, arson and other crimes from the late 1960s through last year.

It accused Asaro of helping to direct the December 11, 1978, Lufthansa airlines heist at Kennedy airport – one of the largest cash thefts in American history.

The gunmen invaded the airline's cargo terminal and stole about $5m in untraceable US currency from a vault that was being returned to the United States from Germany. The cash was never found.

Asaro and his son Jerome, both alleged captains in the Bonanno crime family, also were charged in a 1984 robbery of $1.25m worth of gold from a Federal Express employee. All five defendants were in custody and awaiting appearances yesterday in federal court in Brooklyn. Information on their attorneys was not immediately available.

In addition to the heist, the elder Asaro was charged with the 1969 murder of Paul Katz, whose remains were found last year during an FBI dig at a house once occupied by James "Jimmy the Gent" Burke. Burke, a late Lucchese crime family associate, planned the Lufthansa heist.

Burke inspired Robert De Niro's character in 'Goodfellas', which was based on Nicholas Pileggi's book 'Wiseguy', and told the story of Hill's time in the mob and subsequent cooperation with law enforcement.

Irish Independent

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