Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Mobster pleads not guilty in 1978 Lufthansa heist - Update

On Dec. 13, 1978, the police in Brooklyn cordoned off the area around the stolen black van believed to be used in the Lufthansa heist.
Wearing black ski masks and gloves and driving a stolen van, six Mafia members and associates came to a stop outside a terminal at Kennedy International Airport on a December night in 1978, for what they thought would be a $2 million robbery.

They stole $6.25 million in cash, plus the jewelry and German bank notes. The Lufthansa heist, which prosecutors called the biggest cash robbery in New York history, went unsolved for decades. On Tuesday, Mr. Valenti, a cousin of Vincent Asaro, took the witness stand, holding the courtroom riveted as he provided perhaps the most detailed public account of the robbery
NEW YORK -- An elderly reputed mobster pleaded not guilty on Thursday to participating in a $6 million airport heist dramatized in the Martin Scorsese movie "Goodfellas."

Seventy-eight-year-old Vincent Asaro was named along with his son and three other defendants in wide-ranging indictment Thursday. The allegations include murder, robbery, extortion, arson and other crimes from the late 1960s through last year. The indictment accuses Asaro of helping to direct the 1978 Lufthansa Airlines heist at Kennedy airport - one of the largest cash thefts in American history.
He and his son pleaded not guilty in Brooklyn federal court.

In addition to the heist, the elder Asaro is charged in the 1969 murder of Paul Katz. Prosecutors say Katz once owned a warehouse where mobsters stored stolen goods. All of the men arrested are alleged members of the Bonanno organized crime family.
Katz's remains were found last year during an FBI dig at a house once occupied by James "Jimmy the Gent" Burke, the suspected mastermind of the Lufthansa heist, who died in 1996.