Man Arrested in Goodfellas Heist Case

Vincent Asaro accused of role in 1978 Lufthansa theft featured in Martin Scorsese movie

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Brendan McDermid / Reuters

Bonanno crime family leader Vincent Asaro is escorted by FBI agents from their Manhattan offices in New York City, on Jan. 23, 2014.

Authorities will charge one man in the infamous 35-year-old heist featured in the movie Goodfellas in which thieves stole cash and jewelry from a Lufthansa cargo building at John F. Kennedy Airport, according to court records. The crime netted more than $5 million in cash and $1 million in jewels, the equivalent of $20 million today.

Authorities arrested Vincent Asaro, said to be a senior member of the Bonanno organized crime family, in connection with the heist Thursday. He was due to be arraigned in district court along with accused mobsters Jerome Asaro, Jack Bonventre, Thomas Di Fore and John Ragano, ABC News reports. The four others are suspected of other unsolved crimes.

The investigation into one of the biggest heists in the nation’s history began in December 1978, but proved fruitless after years of work. The only person so far convicted of a role in the robbery was an airport worker who provided inside information to the robbers.

The case was reopened publicly in June when FBI agents raided a home owned by the daughter of an organized crime figure, James “Jimmy the Gent” Burke, who was believed to have orchestrated the heist. Burke, the inspiration for Robert De Niro’s character in the movie, died in 1996 while serving time for a different killing, but when police raided his daughter’s house, they found human remains in the basement. DNA testing and further investigation led to a roundup of the aforementioned mobsters.

The story of one of the mobsters who masterminded the heist, Henry Hill, became the basis for the Martin Scorsese film Goodfellas. Hill became an informant against the mafia in the 1980s.