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 National

US women rout Angola to finish pool play 3-0

USA's Sue Bird shares a light moment with teammate Maya Moore before a women's exhibition basketball game against Canada, Monday, Sept. 15, 2014, in Bridgeport, Conn.

U.S. women's national team routed of Angola on Tuesday night and close out preliminary play at the women's world championship.

in Local Sports

Mariners to be aggressive adding bats in offseason

New Seattle Mariners manager Lloyd McClendon, right, answers a question as general manager Jack Zduriencik looks on at a news conference introducing McClendon Thursday, Nov. 7, 2013, in Seattle. McClendon spent eight patient seasons as a coach waiting for another opportunity to be a major league manager after his stint in Pittsburgh. The Mariners are giving McClendon that chance and formally introduced him on Thursday as their new manager.

After narrowly missing the postseason, the Mariners say they will raise payroll in 2015 and aggressively pursue offense during the offseason.

in Sports, Viral Videos

Middle school team runs ‘Ugly Kardashian’ trick play

17-overlay2

Lewis and Clark Middle School's football team gets tricky with a special play called the "Ugly Kardashian."

in National

Michigan AD apologizes for mistakes with QB injury

University of Michigan Athletic Director Dave Brandon, left, stands with new head football coach Brady Hoke at a news conference in Ann Arbor, Mich., Wednesday, Jan. 12, 2011. Hoke becomes the 19th coach in the 131-year history of Michigan football and arrives in Ann Arbor after spending the past eight seasons as a head coach at Ball State and San Diego State.

Michigan A.D. Dave Brandon says a "serious lack of communication" led to ailing quarterback Shane Morris playing when he should not have.

in Sports

Raiders make Tony Sparano interim coach

Oakland Raiders assistant head coach Tony Sparano looks on before an NFL football game against the New York Jets, Sunday, Dec. 8, 2013, in East Rutherford, N.J.

The Oakland Raiders have promoted offensive line coach Tony Sparano to interim coach to replace the fired Dennis Allen.