Aviation News

January 23, 2014

Indictments Today in 1978 Lufthansa Heist at JFK

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Written by: Ken McQuillan
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In an early morning raid Thursday, the FBI arrested five alleged members of the Bonanno organized crime family, including Vincent Asaro, who allegedly took part in the infamous Lufthansa heist at JFK International Airport in 1978.

With the help of an insider, an airport employee named Louis Werner, the thieves were able to gain access to the Lufthansa cargo area at JFK, and walk away with $5 million in cash, and close to a million dollars in jewels. The cash was part of a monthly exchange of foreign currency from soldiers and tourists overseas. The robbery became the single-biggest heist in American history at the time, and to date, Werner is the only individual ever prosecuted in connection to the heist.

Four other individuals were arrested Thursday morning with Asaro, and are expected to be charged with various crimes during an arraignment scheduled for Thursday afternoon, according to ABC News.

The famous heist at JFK was depicted in the 1990 Martin Scorsese film “GooodFellas”, which was inspired by former mobster Henry Hill, who became an FBI informant to avoid a lengthy prison stay for drug trafficking.

According to ABC News, the arrests come as an apparent result of an FBI dig last summer in Queens, NY which reportedly uncovered human remains in the backyard of a former residence of the late James “Jimmy the Gent” Burke. Federal investigators believe Burke was the brains behind the Lufthansa heist, and that he did whatever he could to distance himself from the robbery. Burke died in prison in 1996.

Ken McQuillan is a contributor to NYCAviation.com, and an aerial photojournalist, based in Detroit, MI. Follow Ken on twitter: @FlyingCinematog

About the Author

Ken McQuillan



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