BY JOHN MARZULLI
NEW YORK DAILY NEWS
Dramatic Details of 1978 Lufthansa Robbery
Federal prosecutors disclose dramatic details of the 1978 Lufthansa robbery.
NY Daily News
The Bonanno gangster charged with the infamous 1978 Lufthansa robbery allegedly blew his nearly $1 million share of the loot gambling at the racetrack, the Daily News has learned.
Federal prosecutors, in their most detailed disclosure to date about evidence against reputed capo Vincent Asaro, have revealed stunning secrets in the long-unsolved airport heist.
The feds have lined up an impressive roster of rats with knowledge of Asaro’s participation in the Lufthansa heist — immortalized in the classic film “Goodfellas.”
Former Bonanno boss Joseph Massino will testify that he was Asaro’s captain at the time and was given by Asaro an attaché case filled with gold and jewelry as tribute. Asaro’s cousin, Gaspare Valenti, also participated in the robbery and recently wore a wire to nail Asaro for the government.
Ex-Bonanno underboss Salvatore Vitale will testify that he saw Massino, his brother-in-law, sorting through the jewelry and was given a gold chain from the airport booty.
Former Gambino associate Anthony Ruggiano Jr., will testify that his father, the late John Gotti crew member Anthony (Fat Andy) Ruggiano, helped Asaro and Burke fence the stolen jewelry.
The $6 million robbery left a trail of bodies in its wake.
Two months after the holdup, Richard Eaton was strangled by Lufthansa mastermind James (Jimmy the Gent) Burke over a drug deal financed by a portion of the proceeds from the heist, according to court papers.
Asaro delivered Easton’s body to a cousin’s house and told him to borrow a neighbor’s backhoe to dig a grave.
The body, with a rope still tied around the neck, was stashed in a refrigeration truck and found by children before the hole was dug, in a scene depicted in the Martin Scorsese movie.
It took two days to defrost his remains for an autopsy.
That was one of many screw-ups by Asaro in his up-and-down Mafia career. He wasted his take from of the Lufthansa loot gambling at the racetrack, stated Assistant U.S. Attorneys Alicyn Cooley and Nicole Argentieri.
His gambling addiction also led to his demotion to the mob rank of soldier in the 1990s.
Prosecutors identified a roster of deceased Lufthansa alumni including Valenti, Burke, Burke’s son Frank, Angelo Sepe, Joseph (Joe Buddah) Manri, Tommy Desimone, Danny Rizzo, Anthony (Snake) Rodriguez and Louis (Fat Louie) Carfora.
“Each participant of the robbery was supposed to receive approximately $750,000 but most did not live to receive their share (either because they were killed or it was never given to them),” prosecutors wrote in papers.
Valenti’s share was glommed by Asaro, but Valenti got the last laugh by secretly taping his cousin ranting: “We never got our right money, what we were supposed to get, we got f---ed all around, that f---ing Jimmy (Burke) kept everything.”
Asaro’s lawyer did not return a call for comment. The trial is scheduled to begin in October in Brooklyn Federal Court.
“Evidence of (Asaro’s) gambling losses and addiction are essential to complete the story of the lucrative criminal schemes charged, including what befell the millions in profits from the Lufthansa Heist,” the court papers state.
Asaro, 80, acknowledged in another secretly taped conversation that he’s a brokefella because he can't help himself when it comes to the ponies.
“If I got a winning ticket and I got to the window, I bet the next race whatever I won in that race, I bet the whole ticket!” he said.
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