Not Such A Goodfella: Mobsters Arrested After FBI Finds Evidence In The Home Of Jimmy “The Gent” Burke

70898091660612306220px-GoodfellasIf you loved the film, The Goodfellas, you will love this story. Remember that score that had Henry Hill (Ray Liotta) screaming with joy in the shower? The Lufthansa heist? Well, the FBI just arrested Vincent Asaro of Queens and four others for the 1978 heist.

Asaro, 78, and other alleged members of the Bonanno organized crime family are accused of murder, racketeering, armed robbery, arson and extortion. The heist grabbed $5 million in cash and nearly $1 million in jewels from an airline cargo. The key architect of the crime was believed to be building in the largest cash robbery in the nation’s history at the time.
Five men have been taken into custody as as part of the investigation into the 1978 Lufthansa heist at New York’s John F. Kennedy airport.

JimmytheGentIt was the biggest heist in U.S. history and a plot item for the 1990 film “Goodfellas.” In the movie, “Jimmy Conway” played by Robert De Niro proceeds to kill virtually everyone associated with the crime to protect himself and his money. Conway was a character based on the real crook, James “Jimmy the Gent” Burke, a member of the Lucchese crime family. Burke died of cancer in 1996 but the FBI only got around to searching his house last summer. It appears that Burke kept incriminating evidence that proved the undoing of the elderly mobsters. That is not how Conway explained it:

Jimmy Conway: I’m not mad, I’m proud of you. You took your first pinch like a man and you learn two great things in your life. Look at me, never rat on your friends and always keep your mouth shut.

It is an ironic ending for the mobsters to be fingered by evidence supplied by Jimmy the Gent. The fascinating question remains the evidence and whether Burke kept his hands on incriminating evidence for his own protection.

Henry Hill prepared the mobsters for the worst where even living under protective services pales in comparison of the lifestyle of a wise guy:

Henry Hill: And that’s the hardest part. Today everything is different; there’s no action… have to wait around like everyone else. Can’t even get decent food – right after I got here, I ordered some spaghetti with marinara sauce, and I got egg noodles and ketchup. I’m an average nobody… get to live the rest of my life like a schnook.

It looks like Asaro and his friends may not even get the life of a schnook as opposed to a crook.

16 thoughts on “Not Such A Goodfella: Mobsters Arrested After FBI Finds Evidence In The Home Of Jimmy “The Gent” Burke”

  1. Joel,

    I will agree with you about some uses of Rico in this case…. But to claim the crime back to 78 is the basis stretches ones imignation…. The federal general sol is 5 years…. I’ve had a case where it was brought 4 years 364 days after the crime…. Do you remember what you were doing 5 years ago…..

  2. Any “Law & Order” fan knows the RICO statute allows for the continuing conspiracy. Jack McCoy loved it when he could use that! I’m not so much amazed that they eventually caught them (I mean, they got Whitey Bulger!), so much as I am that there are that many of them still breathing!

  3. The last act of the conspiracy can be within five years of filing the charge. —
    So, the statute never runs out. I wonder if they will prosecute dead guys too. Maybe they will show the movie as part of the evidence. If they are really mobsters they will start killing off the prosecutors.

  4. “I wish they were that creative in going after Wall Street.” -rafflaw

    As do I, rafflaw.

  5. Bob Esq:

    my understanding is that it is on murder. They moved a body but left a hand in the grave.

  6. Scraped this off another site. I’m not sure about its veracity.

    “The defendants were charged with a racketeering conspiracy, and criminal RICO violations are subject to the five-year federal criminal statute of limitations at 18 USC sec. 3282. Since RICO is a conspiracy statute, however, the limitation period begins to run from the time of the last act committed in furtherance of the conspiracy. According to the indictment, that act was in 2013, which is of course well within the five-year period. The earlier acts stretching back to 1969, including the Lufthansa robbery, are carried along because they were all part of the same ongoing criminal enterprise. ”

  7. Procedural question:

    How do you charge someone for a heist that took place more than 30 years ago?

    Is there a tolling of the statute of limitations that I’m overlooking?

  8. Except for the murders….. Wouldn’t the statute of limitations have ended on these crimes….

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