The Lufthansa Heist! These headlines graced many newspapers this week. When you dig deeper into the story, you see that only one man is charged with involvement in the legendary heist. The Feds had 4 informants, one of which is Joey Massino, one his Capo and Boss, and the other is his cousin!
Vincent Asaro was inducted into the Bonnano Family in 1968. One of Vincent’s crew mates was Anthony Mirra, who would be killed after the Donnie Brasco undercover investigation of the Bonnano Family. Vincent was placed in his Uncle Mickey Zaffarano's crew. Mickey at one time had been with his Brother-in-Law Joseph Asaro. Let me explain who Mickey was in the Mafia. Mickey was the man who ran the porn business in the 1970's by controlling the Pussy Cat theatres and other movie houses before video cassette. I know he backed a few porn guys in California working out of the valley. Mickey was also a mentor to Robert Dibernardo or “DeBee” who ran the porn business for the Gambino Family until John Gotti had him killed.
The way the new RICO case reads is this: on or about and between January 1, 1968 and June 30, 2013 both dates being approximate and inclusive. These are the words that enable the Government to charge three Made men in the Bonnano Crime family with Racketeering crimes even though the statute of limitations has run out. The crimes include the staple of the Mafia, Shylocking or Loaning money. They also include the murder of Paul Katz in 1969 (he was buried and moved to a Queens backyard) and the December 11, 1978 theft of 5 million dollars in cash and over a million dollars in gold and jewels. Vincent Asaro and company were also charged with burning down a club known then as “Afters on Rockaway Blvd” because it catered to blacks and the Italian restaurant across the street thought it would be bad for business.
Vincent and his son Jerome (also known as Jerry) robbed a Fed Ex driver of 1.2 Million in gold salts.
The Lufthansa robbery was huge and it has been detailed in at least 3 films. In Goodfellas, Robert De Niro plays Jimmy Burke, the mastermind who they renamed Jimmy Conway. Henry Hill, who was not part of the robbery crew, was played by Ray Liota, which is a huge improvement over the real-life drunken, drug-addicted Henry Hill. Jimmy Burke had to include members of three crime families in the robbery because they controlled various parts of the airport. Paulie Vario, a Luchese Family Capo, controlled the Union at the airport. Another, who in the past has been misidentified as the Gambino guy in control of the airport, was Vincent Asaro who was really the Bonnano Family man at the airport. Paulo LiCastri was the Gambino Family man who went on the heist.
Vincent Asaro is being charged as one of the men who kept watch outside, while others carried out the robbery. Jimmy Burke went crazy with greed and paranoia after he realized how much he really stole. He participated in and had over 10 people connected with the robbery murdered. When the time came for the split of the cash, those who were still alive were never given their share of the robbery. Pauli Variosent’s son Peter was to collect his end, which he did eventually get.
Vincent Asaro eventually was able to collect 240,000 dollars, half of which he stole from one of the informants on his case. Vincent also brought Joey Massino a box of gold and jewels as his end of the robbery. That turned out to be a bad move, because Joey Massino is one of the informants that helped put together the RICO Case.
The FBI taped Vincent Asaro complaining about the Robbery to an informant. "We never got our right money,what we were supposed to get. We got fucked all around, Got Fucked all around, that fucking Jimmy Burke kept everything." I guess he was pissed but he was still close to Jimmy Burke because even many years later he had his guys move the body of Paul Katz who he murdered with Jimmy Burke in 1969.
Vincent Asaro is now 78 years old and a Capo on the ruling panel that runs the family with Boss Tommy Di Fiore. Vincent's father was a made man and so is his son Jerome who is indicted along with the rest of them. Vincent has a bad gambling habit and he was even demoted from his Capo position and placed under his son when he took too much cash from his crew. The FBI has some great tapes of him bad mouthing the Boss Tommy Di Fiore over cash and even former Boss Joey Massino.
It is never boring when you live in the Mafia, but this one instance goes to show that the FBI will get you no matter how many years have passed.