FBI close to cracking the case E-mail
Written by Mark Nichols   

If you’ve ever read the book “Wiseguy,” or seen Martin Scorcese’s film “Goodfellas,” you’ll be happy to know that the FBI has made at least one arrest recently in the 1978 Lufthansa Heist. According to reporting in the New York Times, several men who investigators believe to be linked to the Bonanno crime family were expected to be arraigned in Federal District Court in Brooklyn. Oddly, there was no word as to what charges the men might be facing.
The federal investigation, apparently in it’s 40th year or so, “became public” just last June after F.B.I. agents descended on a home in the South Ozone Park neighborhood of Queens.

At that location investigators dug up the basement where they found very old human remains according to a person familiar with the investigation that spoke with the Times.

The property was owned by the daughter of long-dead James (Jimmy the Gent) Burke.

Robert DeNiro played Burke in Goodfellas.

At least one of the men who has been arrested, Vincent Asaro, 78, is expected to face charges in connection to the Lufthansa Heist according to a second person familiar with the investigation.

The other men arrested are not accused of participation in that particular crime.

As anyone that’s seen the movie already knows, the heist at Kennedy was the largest robbery in United States history at the time. All told the robbers stole $5 million in cash and nearly $1 million in jewels from a Lufthansa cargo building in December 1978.

Years later the investigation started to produce results when Henry Hill flipped and agreed to testify against his associates for immunity from prosecution.

But despite Hill’s cooperation the investigation went nowhere.

Part of the difficulty was the fact that the culprits started turning up dead one after another. Investigators and movie audiences alike believe this was the result of Jimmy Burke deciding to tie up loose ends by killing the guys that did the robbery.

Jimmy (Burke) was one of the most feared guys in the city. 
He was first locked up at and doing hits for mob bosses at 11.
Hits never bothered Jimmy. It was business.
But what Jimmy really loved to do, what he really loved to do was steal.

In fact that only person convicted of the Lufthansa robbery was Burke’s guy on the inside- a Lufthansa cargo agent named Louis Werner who was played by Mike Starr in Goodfellas.

Werner was a degenerate gambler and pitched the robbery to his bookie as a means of paying off his debt.

That bookie introduced Werner to another bookmaker who was a beautician from Long Island. That individual is the one believed to have passed along the tip to the robbers who then got the o.k. for the job from Burke.

It’s not clear when but federal investigators came to suspect that the heist was indeed “masterminded,” by Mr. Burke.

But Mr. Burke was already in the can. He was sent to prison on based on information provided by Mr. Hill.

That information did not include anything linking Burke to the Lufthansa robbery though. It only had to do with fixing Boston College basketball games.

Let this be a lesson to all budding investigators out there. The longer a case stays open, the longer the odds are that anyone’s ever going to get to the bottom of anything.


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