Suspect arrested in Lufthansa heist made famous in ‘Goodfellas’


An elderly alleged mobster was arrested in New York in connection with the notorious 1978 Lufthansa heist, dramatized by Martin Scorsese in the 1990 film “Goodfellas,” according to news outlets including Reuters and Associated Press.

The theft of $5 million in cash and $1 million in jewelry by hooded gunmen at the Lufthansa Terminal at John F. Kennedy International Airport was the biggest cash heist ever in the United States at the time; the $5 million would be worth $17.9 million today.

According to AP, 78-year-old Vincent Asaro has been charged with participating in the heist in a wide-ranging indictment that also names his son Jerome and three other defendants in various allegations of murder, robbery, extortion, arson and bookmaking.


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The suspected mastermind of the Lufthansa heist, James “Jimmy the Gent” Burke, died in prison in 1996 while serving time for the murder of a drug dealer. A character based on Burke was played by Robert De Niro in Scorsese’s film.

Ray Liotta played mob informant Henry Hill in the film; Hill entered the federal witness protection program in the 1980s and died at a Los Angeles hospital in 2012. In “Goodfellas,” Hill hears about the successful heist while listening to the radio in the shower, then shouts and bangs the tile in excitement.

Shortly after, De Niro’s character scolds two underlings for buying a new car and a mink coat with their cuts of the stolen cash. “You’re going to get us all pinched!” he scolds. “What are you … stupid?”

The arrests come as Scorsese’s latest crime film, “The Wolf of Wall Street,” continues to prowl theaters and chase Oscar gold.


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