Mobster Charged With 1978 Lufthansa Heist, Murder

Vincent Asaro
Vincent Asaro n an earlier mug shot.

A reputed Bonanno crime family leader from Queens has been indicted for his alleged role in the infamous Lufthansa heist in which mobsters robbed nearly $6 million 35 years ago last month.

Vincent Asaro was arrested on racketeering charges including conspiracy to commit murder, extortion, robbery and arson. The 78-year-old is scheduled to be arraigned Thursday at Brooklyn federal court.

Asaro is described in court documents as helping plan and execute the robbery at John F. Kennedy International Airport on Dec. 11, 1978, making off with $5 million in cash and nearly $1 million in jewelry—a key plot in the movie Goodfellas.

“Neither age nor time dimmed Asaro’s ruthless ways, as he continued to order violence to carry out mob business in recent months,” Loretta Lynch, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, said in a statement terming the heist the largest in New York history.

Lufthansa Heist: Nassau Cop Breaks Silence on Mob Case that Left 16 Dead, $6M Missing

He was also accused of being involved in the murder of suspected informant Paul Katz in 1969, setting fire to a Queens building in ’80, stealing $1.25 million worth of gold salts in ’84, putting a hit out on an unnamed victim in ’85 and other alleged crimes.

Four other alleged Bonanno soldiers were also rounded up on various racketeering charges, including Asaro’s son, Jerome, of Bethpage, who allegedly moved Katz’ body in the ’80s from one basement to another. The others include Jack Bonventre of upstate Campbell Hall, 70-year-old Thomas “Tommy D” DiFiore of Commack and John “Bazoo” Ragano of Rockaway.

Bonventre, 45, was released from federal prison in 2009, 51-year-old Ragano in ’10 and the younger Asaro, 55, in ’12, records show.

Louis Werner, a former Lufthansa employee from Long Island who died in ‘07, was the only person ever convicted for his direct role in the heist. James “Jimmy the Gent” Burke, another gangster who was involved, died in prison after being convicted of a related murder after the fact.

Sixteen people were either found dead or went missing after the heist. A former Nassau County police sergeant who helped investigate the case exclusively told the Press in a story published on the 35th anniversary of the heist that it was partly planned at a bowling alley in Bellmore, among other new details.