More than 30 years after the infamous “Lufthansa heist,” dramatized in the classic mob movie Goodfellas, an elderly reputed mobster has been arrested for his role in the robbery.
According to the AP, Vincent Asaro, 78, was named along with his son Jerome and three other defendants in an indictment alleging murder, robbery, extortion, arson and other crimes taking place from the late 1960s through last year.
The Asaros, both of whom are identified as captains in the Bonanno organized crime family, pleaded not guilty through their attorneys and have been ordered to be held without bail at a brief court appearance in Brooklyn.
Vincent’s attorney, Gerald McMahon, told the AP outside court that his client was framed by informants, including former Bonanno boss Joseph Massino.
In the indictment, Asaro is accused of helping lead the Dec. 11, 1978 Lufthansa Airlines heist at Kennedy airport — one of the largest cash thefts in American history. In the robbery, more than $5 million in untraceable U.S. currency was looted from the airline’s cargo terminal, which was being returned to the United States from Germany, along with about $1 million in jewelry. The cash and jewels were never recovered.
An unidentified mob associate, who pleaded guilty and became a cooperating witness, has told investigators that he participated in the robbery at the direction of Asaro. The heist, overall, has been long believed to be the brainchild of James “Jimmy the Gent” Burke, a late Lucchese crime family associate, depicted in Good Fellas by Robert De Niro.
In recorded conversations, according to the indictment, Asaro is said to have discussed being slighted out of his share of the heist, which was supposed to be $750,000. “We never got our right money, what we were supposed to get,” he said, according to the court papers. “Jimmy Burke kept everything.”
In addition to the “Lufthansa heist,” Vincent Asaro is charged in the 1969 murder of Paul Katz, whose remains were found last year during an FBI dig at a house once occupied by Burke.