“Goodfellas” Mobsters Arrested on RICO Charges for 1978 Lufthansa Heist

Criminals Who Inspired “Goodfellas” Arrested on RICO Charges Related to Lufthansa Heist in 1978

rico chargesFive men believed to be mobsters have been arrested by federal authorities on RICO charges related to a 1978 heist of a Lufthansa flight at the John F. Kennedy Airport in New York.

The heist landed the gang members around $5 million in cash, and $1 million in jewels, which is worth about $20 million today. The December 11th, 1978 heist was one of the largest cash thefts in US history, and was referenced in the 1990 film “Goodfellas.”

On Thursday, January 23rd, federal prosecutors issued an indictment for several RICO charges against five defendants, including murder, robbery, arson, bookmaking, and extortion. One of the five defendants, Vincent Asaro, is also charged with participating in the heist.

The other defendants, who are reportedly members of the Bonanno crime family, are Jerome Asaro, Jack Bonventre, Thomas “Tommy D” Di Fiore and John “Bazoo” Ragano. Their arraignment in federal court in Brooklyn was also scheduled for Thursday.

According to an FBI statement, the RICO charges stemmed from an investigation at the home of James “Jimmy the Gent” Burke last summer. Burke died in prison in 1996 while serving time for a murder conviction. The investigation at Burke’s home uncovered human remains, which DNA testing revealed to be Paul Katz, a mobster who disappeared in 1969 because Burke suspected him of being an informant for the FBI. Both Vincent and Jerome Asaro are believed to have murdered Katz and covered it up.

FBI investigators believe that Burke was the mastermind behind the Lufthansa heist.

Over the past several decades, the FBI recovered only a fraction of the money stolen in the heist, and many suspects in the case either died or turned up dead years later.

The only person so far convicted on RICO charges related to the Lufthansa heist was Louis Werner, who helped the men escape in exchange for help repaying his gambling debts.

What is RICO?

RICO charges involve the operation of an illegal business or enterprise, including a fraudulent scams, for an individual or entity’s personal profit.

The federal Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) and similar state racketeering laws give the government a tremendous amount of power to go after those accused of racketeering.

The RICO act is broad and covers a variety of white collar crimes including:

The Strom Law Firm Can Help with RICO Charges

Being arrested or investigated for federal criminal charges can be very stressful. However, just because you are under a great deal of pressure does not mean that you are automatically guilty, or that you have no rights in court. For experienced RICO and federal criminal charges defense attorneys who will fight for your rights and work to have your charges reduced or even dismissed, contact the attorneys at the Strom Law Firm, today. We offer free, confidential consultations so that you can discuss the facts of your case with impunity, in a safe environment. Do not hesitate to contact us. 803.252.4800.

Speak Your Mind