Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Arrests made in 1978 Lufthansa “Goodfellas” heist

Vincent Asaro (undated mugshot)

A series of pre-dawn New York-area raids Thursday netted five alleged mobsters who may be responsible for the famous 1978 Lufthansa heist. The unsolved caper yielded more than $5.75 million in cash and diamonds stolen from a Lufthansa airlines building at JFK airport.

Vincent Asaro, 78, who is allegedly a boss of the Bonanno crime family, was arrested at his home in Queens. Alleged mob underboss Thomas “Tommy D” DiFiore was arrested at his Commack, Long Island, home. Jerome Asaro, Jack Bonventre, and John “Bazoo” Ragano were also named in the indictment and have been arrested to face arraignment Thursday afternoon.

The Lufthansa heist was the largest in U.S. history. The story became the Martin Scorsese film Goodfellas.

An FBI Spokesperson told the New York Times that the arrests were the result of an investigation last summer at the Queens home of James “Jimmy the Gent” Burke. After digging in the basement of Burke’s home, agents found human remains identified as Paul Katz, who disappeared in 1969 after Burke suspected him of being an informant to the police, the New York Post reports.

Burke, who allegedly masterminded the heist, died in prison in 1996 while serving time for the murder of confidence man Richard Eaton. Burke was suspected to be involved in at least 50 other murders.

Crimelibrary has a detailed story about the Lufthansa heist here. Check it out.


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