Five alleged New York City mobsters were arrested today after a prolonged investigation. One of them, Vincent Asaro, 78, is an alleged participant in the famed 1978 Lufthansa Heist, which remains one of the biggest burglaries in U.S. history. Asaro is accused of being a captain within the infamous Bonanno crime family.
Here is what you need to know about this caught “wise guy”:
1. He Was Arrested as Part of an Organized Crime Bust
Vincent Asaro was arrested along with Jerome Asaro, Jack Boneventre, Thomas Di Fiore and John Ragano after a prolonged investigation into organized crime in New York City. The group is collectively accused of crimes generally associated with organized crime: murder, conspiracy, illegal gambling, extortion, etc.
In 1995, Asaro was also arrested after an investigation discovered that he was the top of a massive car theft ring.
However, Asaro, believed to be the leader of the group, has been accused of being implicated in another, more famous crime.
2. He Was Allegedly Involved in the 1978 Lufthansa Heist
Asaro is the only one of the five people arrested to be implicated in the infamous 1978 Lufthansa Heist at JKF International Airport in Queens, New York. The Lufthansa plane, carrying American dollars to West Germany, was robbed, and around $5 million in cash and $1 million in jewels were stolen. To this day, very little of that money has been recovered.
One suspect in the robbery, Henry Hill, joined the witness protection agency in the mid-1980s after many people connected to the robbery had been found dead. Hill was portrayed by actor Ray Liotta in the film about the heist, Goodfellas. One person was arrested with the help of Hill, James Burke, who died in prison in 1996. One of the other crimes Asaro is charged with is the murder of a body found by police in the basement of Burke’s former home.
3. The Heist Inspired the Movie ‘Goodfellas’
The heist prompted the famous 1990 Martin Scorsese film GoodFellas staring Robert De Nirt, Ray Liotta, and Joe Pesci and depicts a rough approximation of the who’s, what’s, and when’s of the Lufthansa Heist.
4. He Is Charged With Extortion, Conspiracy, Murder, Robbery & Arson
The full charges against Asaro, found in the court document above, include racketeering, extortion, murder, murder conspiracy, robbery, arson, arson conspiracy, soliciting murder and racketeering.
5. The Bonanno Crime Family Is Being Dismantled
One of the oldest and most infamous families in “La Cosa Nostra,” the New York Italian mafia, is the Bonanno family. The family has taken a number of hits over the past few years including the arrest and charging of nine people in July 2013.