Criminal Justice

Suspect in JFK airport $5M cash heist portrayed in 'Goodfellas' is among 5 indicted by feds


More than 30 years after hooded gunmen stole $5 million in cash from a cargo terminal of John F. Kennedy International Airport, a reputed crime family member is accused of a role in the record-breaking theft in a federal indictment unsealed Thursday.

Vincent Asaro, said by the feds to be a leader of the Bonanno crime family, was charged in the 1978 theft, then the largest cash heist ever. Known as the Lufthansa heist because the airline had recently flown money into the airport, the crime was dramatized in the 1990 movie Goodfellas. The stolen funds were never recovered and would have amounted to $17.9 million in today’s dollars, reports Reuters. Another $1 million worth of jewelry was also taken by the thieves, according to authorities.

Four other suspects were also charged with unrelated crimes in the indictment, which includes counts of racketeering, extortion.and murder.

James “Jimmy the Gent” Burke was thought to be a mastermind of the heist but died in prison in 1996, where he was serving time for murdering a drug dealer, the news agency recounts. A character based on Burke was played by Robert De Niro in the Goodfellas movie.

Human remains found last year at a New York property owned by a relative of Burke’s led the feds to the indictment revealed today, but details are sketchy about exactly how Asaro allegedly was determined to be responsible for the JFK heist.

The Associated Press and New York Post also have stories.

A New York Magazine article provides additional details about the airport crime.

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