Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

The Lufthansa Heist Revisited

Frustration of Law Enforcement

Six months would pass before the New York Times produced a follow-up front-page article on January 3, 1980. A Times reporter interviewed Steve Carbone, an FBI supervisor. "It's a case that just won't die," Carbone, an ex-high school English teacher replied. "Every time it has breathed it's last breath, something new comes up. It's like a gigantic puzzle, and now we have a lot of the pieces. We feel we're close to solving it."

Carbone expressed remorse over the murders of Manri and LiCastri, claiming they knew both victims were in peril, but they refused to come in. "We could have saved their lives if only they had come to us," Carbone stated. "But our efforts to warn them fell on deaf ears they were either too greedy or too scared. You hate to see people killed. But it's also a great frustration to us. They were links in the case that are cut off now.

Over a year had passed since the robbery. The only man indicted for the crime, Louis Werner, was convicted and was serving his sentence. Other than that, all the investigators had was a trail of dead bodies or missing persons connected with the theft. The Times wrote about the efforts of law enforcement:

In the last year they had gone on fruitless searches for cash or bodies and have delved into murders that later proved unconnected to the Lufthansa robbery. They have spent long hours in unproductive interviews with shady characters who said they had inside information information that turned out on investigation to have been fantasy. They have spent days listening over and over to surreptitiously recorded tapes, hoping to hear something new.

The article pointed out that within days of the robbery a tip was provided that gave investigators the name of four men they believe played a role in the heist: DeSimone, Sepe, Frank Burke, and Anthony Rodriquez.

Surprisingly, the article provided near-libelous accusations regarding the higher ups in the scheme. It claimed, although Burke's name had never surfaced during the Werner trial, that investigators were convinced he was the man approached by Marty Krugman to carry out the plan. As for organized crime's role:

Mr. Vario, who now lives in Florida, has often been officially identified as a prominent member of the Thomas Lucchese organized crime family, now said to be headed by Anthony Corallo. Authorities believe Mr. Vario and Mr. Corallo are both receiving tribute from the proceeds of the crime.

Carbone viewed the fact that so much money had been stolen as favorable to their investigation:

It's such a large amount that any movement of it would single them out. Already they have had to get other people involved in moving it. The circle of people who have been involved has reached in numbers 30 or 35 by now, and the more people there are, the better our chances. It took the Brinks people five years to solve that case [referring to the famous Brinks terminal robbery that took place in Boston in 1950, in which $2.7 million was taken] so we still have four to go. We're very confident.