The wide-ranging indictment naming Vincent Asaro, his son Jerome and three other defendants alleges murder, robbery, extortion, arson and bookmaking. Asaro was accused of participating in the Dec. 11, 1978, armed robbery – one of the largest cash thefts in American history.
Hooded gunmen invaded the airline’s cargo terminal and stole about $5 million in untraceable U.S. currency being returned to the United States from Germany. The cash was never found. Authorities say jewelry worth about $1 million also was taken.
The Asaros, both alleged captains in the Bonanno organized crime family, also were charged together in a 1984 robbery of $1.25 million worth of gold salts from a Federal Express employee. Information on their attorneys was not immediately available.
All five defendants were in custody and awaiting appearances on Thursday in federal court in Brooklyn.
The elder Asaro was charged in the murder of Paul Katz, whose remains were found last year during an FBI dig at a house once occupied by James “Jimmy the Gent” Burke. Burke, a late Lucchese crime family associate, planned the Lufthansa heist and was known for burying victims of mob hits in familiar places.
Burke owned Robert’s Lounge, the saloon that a fellow Lucchese associate, the late Henry Hill, described as Burke’s private cemetery. “Jimmy buried over a dozen bodies … under the bocce courts,” Hill wrote in his book, “A Goodfella’s Guide to New York.”
Burke inspired Robert De Niro’s character in “Goodfellas,” which was based on Nicholas Pileggi’s book “Wiseguy” and told the story of Hill’s time in the mob and subsequent cooperation with law enforcement.
The indictment alleges that in December 1969, Asaro “together with others … did knowingly and intentionally cause the death of Paul Katz,” but provides no further details.