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Suspect arrested in 1978 JFK Lufthansa heist, along with 4 other alleged mobsters

 

The FBI says it arrested five mobsters in pre-dawn raids on Thursday, including one connected to the 1978 Lufthansa heist at New York's John F. Kennedy Airport.

Around $5 million in cash and $1 million in jewels -- worth about $20 million today -- were netted in the robbery of a Lufthansa cargo terminal at JFK airport on Dec. 11, 1978. The heist was made famous in the 1990 film “Goodfellas.”

Federal prosecutors issued a wide-ranging indictment Thursday against five defendants, alleging murder, robbery, extortion, arson and bookmaking. One of them, Vincent Asaro, of Howard Beach in Queens, was accused of participating in the heist -- one of the largest cash thefts in American history.

Jerome Asaro, Jack Bonventre, Thomas “Tommy D” Di Fiore and John “Bazoo” Ragano -- also alleged members of the Bonanno crime family -- were the other men named in the indictment.

The men were arraigned Thursday afternoon in U.S. District Court in Brooklyn.

FBI Spokeswoman Kelly Langmesser said Vincent Asaro was arrested as the result of an investigation last summer at the Queens home of James “Jimmy the Gent” Burke, according to Reuters.

At Burke’s home, agents found human remains that were identified through DNA testing as those of Paul Katz, who disappeared in 1969 after Burke suspected him of being an informant to the police, the New York Post reports.

The indictment alleges that Vincent Asaro committed the murder and helped cover it up along with Jerome Asaro.

Burke, who is the suspected mastermind of the heist, died in prison in 1996 while serving time for a murder conviction.

Until today, the only other person arrested in connection to the heist was Louis Werner, an airport worker who gave the mobsters information that helped them raid the Lufthansa terminal and escape, the New York Post reports.

Other suspects in the case either died or turned up dead and only a fraction of the money has been recovered.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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