Feds Crack Notorious 1978 Lufthansa Heist at JFK Airport Spurred by Jewish Bookie

5 Arrests in $6M Robbery — Biggest in History

Case Closed? Robert De Niro starred in ‘Goodfellas’, which was based on the story of the notorious Lufthansa heist.
Case Closed? Robert De Niro starred in ‘Goodfellas’, which was based on the story of the notorious Lufthansa heist.

By Reuters

Published January 23, 2014.
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“A lot of the main characters, like Burke, either died, disappeared or were murdered,” said Anthony DeStefano, a veteran New York crime reporter and author of the 2013 book “Vinny Gorgeous: The Ugly Rise and Fall of a New York Mobster.”

A break in the case came after an FBI investigation of a New York property tied to Burke last summer turned up human remains. Burke himself died in prison in 1996 while serving time for the murder of a drug dealer.

The Thursday indictment charges Asaro with the murder of Paul Katz in 1969, as well as robbery, conspiracy and other crimes tied to the 1978 heist.

Asaro and Burke strangled Katz with a dog chain because they thought he was cooperating with investigators, prosecutors said. His body was first buried in the basement of a vacant house in the New York borough of Queens and later moved to the location where it was found last summer, they said.

FATHER, SON INDICTED TOGETHER

Court papers filed in New York charge Asaro with four criminal counts, including robbery and conspiracy to commit robbery, in connection with the Lufthansa heist.

He is also charged racketeering and extortion for other alleged criminal activity.

Vincent Asaro and his son, Jerome Asaro, 55, are charged with stealing $1.25 million in gold salts from a Federal Express employee in February 1984. They are also accused of robbery conspiracy in the theft of $1 million from an armored car in the mid-1980s.

Three others defendants, Jack Bonventre, 45; Thomas “Tommy D” Di Fiore, 70; and John “Bazoo” Ragano, 52, are charged with multiple crimes, including racketeering and extortion, unrelated to the Lufthansa heist, officials said.

Attorneys for the indicted suspects were not immediately available for comment.

The five men were due to be arraigned in U.S. District Court in Brooklyn on Thursday.

Much of the money from the 1978 heist has not been recovered, said DeStefano, who writes for Newsday: “Some of it went up the chain in tribute to the Luccheses, some of it went to Burke and his businesses and some of it is still unaccounted for.”

The original plot was hatched after bookmaker Martin Krugman tipped off mobsters about the untraceable millions. The Jewish bookie was later murdered.


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