News

Reputed New York mob boss arrested in ’78 Lufthansa heist

Reputed New York mob boss arrested in ’78 Lufthansa heist

ARRESTED: Thomas 'Tommy D' Di Fiore is escorted by FBI agents from their Manhattan offices in New York Jan. 23. Photo: Reuters//Brendan McDermid

By Chris Francescani

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Five reported members of a New York crime family were taken into custody on Thursday and charged with crimes including racketeering, murder and the long-unsolved 1978 Lufthansa heist at John F. Kennedy International Airport.

Court papers unsealed in New York charge that the men were members of the Bonanno crime family, which also committed acts of extortion and arson, including the airport heist, a brazen crime made famous by the 1990 film “Goodfellas.”

The arrests of four men and surrender of a fifth follows a discovery by the Federal Bureau of Investigation of human remains at a New York property tied to James “Jimmy the Gent” Burke last summer.

Burke, the suspected mastermind of the heist, died in prison in 1996 while serving time for the murder of a drug dealer. Actor Robert De Niro played a character based on Burke in the film.

Vincent Asaro, identified as one of the leaders of the Bonanno gang, was charged with the theft of $5 million in cash and $1 million in jewelry from the Lufthansa Terminal at Kennedy on December 11, 1978.

At the time, it was the biggest cash heist ever in the United States. The stolen $5 million would be worth $17.9 million in 2013 dollars, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The crime stumped investigators for years, but a break in the case came last summer during a search that turned up human remains buried at the home of a relative of Burke.

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

ABC News reported Katz was killed, and his remains buried, because Burke believed he was working with law enforcement.

Vincent Asaro and a second man reported to be his son, Jerome Asaro, were also charged with stealing $1.25 million in gold salts from a employee of Federal Express.

The three others, Jack Bonventre, Thomas Di Fiore and John “Bazoo” Ragano are charged with multiple crimes including racketeering and extortion for crimes unrelated to the heist, officials said.

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

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

(Additional reporting by Jonathan Stempel; Writing by Barbara Goldberg; Editing by Scott Malone, Nick Zieminski and Alden Bentley)

Recent Headlines

in Local Sports

Lummi cancels Friday’s game vs. Lopez following shooting at MPHS

Fresh
football genric image

The Lummi Blackhawks cancel Lopez game following Marysville Pilchuck High School shooting. Multiple Wesco and Snohomish county prep events canceled.

in Sports

Ted Bishop resigns as PGA president

Fresh
FILE - PGA of America President Ted Bishop speaks next to the Presidents Cup trophy at a news conference at City Hall in San Francisco, in this July 2, 2014 file photo. The PGA of America president referred to Ian Poulter as a little girl on two social media accounts Thursday evening Oct. 23, 2014 for his comments on Nick Faldo and Tom Watson as Ryder Cup captains.

Ted Bishop has been removed as president of the PGA of America over a sexist tweet directed at Ian Poulter.

in Local Sports

Maxwell, Unger, Walters all out for Seattle

seattle seahawks max unger

The Seahawks announced that Max Unger, Bryan Walters, and Byron Maxwell will miss the game versus the Panthers.

in Local Sports

QB questions linger as No. 14 ASU faces Huskies

Arizona State quarterback Taylor Kelly (10) passes during the first half of an NCAA college football game against the Notre Dame Saturday, Oct. 5, 2013, in Arlington, Texas.

When No. 14 Arizona State faces Washington on Saturday night, no one is fully certain how many quarterbacks will play. It could be two. Or three. Or four.

in Local Sports

Top offenses clash when Cougars host Wildcats

Arizona Wildcats quarterback Anu Solomon (12) passes the ball during the fourth quarter of the NCAA college football game against Oregon at Autzen Stadium on Thursday, Oct. 2, 2014, in Eugene, Ore. Arizona won the game 31-24.

The teams with the two best offenses in the Pac-12 like to play quickly and they put up big numbers offensively while doing it.