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'Goodfellas' case: Five mobsters arrested for 1978 Lufthansa heist (+video)

'Goodfellas' case: The FBI made five arrests in the long-unsolved 1978 Lufthansa heist at New York's JFK Airport. The robbers took $5 million in cash and $1 million in jewels. The heist was immortalized in the Martin Scorsese film “Goodfellas.”

By Chris FrancescaniReuters / January 23, 2014


New York

Five men believed to be mobsters were taken into custody on Thursday on charges of murder and other crimes linked to an long-unsolved 1978 Lufthansa heist at New York's John F. Kennedy International Airport, an FBI spokeswoman said.

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The arrests in the three-decades-old crime, made famous by the 1990 Martin Scorsese film "Goodfellas," were the result of an FBI search last summer at the New York home of James "Jimmy the Gent" Burke, said FBI spokeswoman Kelly Langmesser.

Burke, the suspected mastermind of the heist, died in prison in 1996 while serving time for the murder of a drug dealer. Robert De Niro played a character based on Burke in the film.

The five men are reputed mobsters associated with New York's Bonnano crime family, a federal law enforcement source said Thursday.

Vincent Asaro was among four suspects arrested in early morning raids on Thursday by FBI agents and a fifth man surrendered to authorities, Langmesser said.

The New York Post reports that "Asaro, reputedly a high-ranking member of the Bonanno crime family, was expected to be arraigned in federal court on racketeering charges stemming from the famed robbery at JFK ... Asaro was the first suspect charged in the Dec. 11, 1978 robbery itself, which netted a team of brazen crooks $5 million in cash and $1 million in jewels – a haul that would be worth about $20 million in today’s dollars.

The FBI said it would release additional information later Thursday.

(Reporting by Chris Francescani; Writing by Barbara Goldberg; Editing by Scott Malone and Nick Zieminski)

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