UK & World News

  • 23 January 2014, 22:52

'Goodfellas' Heist: Man Pleads Not Guilty

A suspected elderly mobster has pleaded not guilty to taking part in a $6m airport heist which was dramatised in the Martin Scorsese film Goodfellas.

In court, 78-year-old Vincent Asaro was named along with his son and three other defendants in a wide-ranging indictment.

The allegations include murder, robbery, extortion, arson and other crimes from the late 1960s until last year.

The Lufthansa Airlines raid at Kennedy International Airport in 1978 which was one of the largest cash thefts in US history.

Hooded gunmen robbed the airline's cargo terminal and made off with $5m in cash and nearly $1m in jewels. The cash was never found.

Asaro is an alleged captain in the Bonanno crime family and is suspected of helping to direct the heist.

He and his son pleaded not guilty in a Brooklyn federal court. They did not ask for bail and are behind bars.

Asaro is also charged over the 1969 murder of Paul Katz. Prosecutors say Katz once owned a warehouse where mobsters stored stolen goods.

Goodfellas was inspired by the life of Henry Hill. The mobster-turned-informant played by Ray Liotta in the movie admitted being involved in the airport heist.

Hill was placed in a witness protection programme when he agreed to co-operate with authorities.

The raid was planned by James "Jimmy the Gent" Burke, an associate of the Lucchese crime family who inspired the character played by Robert De Niro in the film.

The FBI last June searched Burke's property in Queens, where the robbery was believed to have been planned.

Burke died in prison in 1996 while serving time for the murder of a drug dealer.

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