A Commack man and four other alleged members of the Bonanno crime family, were arrested Thursday and charged with racketeering conspiracy, murder, robbery extortion and other crimes. One of those men, Vincent Asaro, was arrested in connection with the infamous Lufthansa Heist at Kennedy International Airport in 1978, which was made famous by Martin Scorcese’s film, “Goodfellas.”
Thomas "Tommy D" DiFiore of Commack, the highest-ranking Bonanno family member currently living outside of prison, is facing conspiracy charges. Federal Buraeu Investigators said that DiFiore was elevated to help rebuild a Bonanno family devastated by recent prosecutions and the stunning decision 10 years ago by family boss Joseph Massino to turn state's evidence and testify against other reputed mobsters
The Lufthansa Heiest took place December 11, 1978, in which hooded gunmen invaded the airline's cargo terminal and netted more than $5 million in cash and $1 million in jewels, which would be equivalent to about $20 million today. At the time, it was the single-biggest heist ever pulled off on US soil.
Mob captain Vincent Asaro is the first accused mobster to face charges in the Lufthansa Heist. The only other person who was ever charged in the robbery was Louis Werner, an airport worker who provided critical inside information to the robbers.
Asaro is also charged with the murder of Paul Katz, who disappeared in 1969. Asaro and his son Jerome are also charged for their roles in moving Katz’s body to prevent its discovery by law enforcement. A Department of Justice spokesperson said that Asaro and Burke allegedly strangled Katz with a dog chain because they believed he was cooperating with law enforcement. They then buried his body in the basement of a vacant home in Queens, where it remained until the mid-1980s when, alerted to a state law enforcement investigation into Katz’s murder, Vincent Asaro directed Jerome Asaro and another individual to dig up Katz’s body and move it. Almost 35 years later, in June of 2013, the FBI executed a search warrant at the Queens residence, which was still owned by the Burke family, and recovered remnants of Katz’s remains buried in the basement. Katz’s identity was confirmed through DNA testing.
Vincent Asaro and Jerome Asaro are also charged with solicitation to murder their cousin, because he was perceived to be a “rat” for testifying against another family member in a federal trial on fraud charges, officials said.
All five defendants, including DiFiore, are charged with using and conspiring to use extortionate means to collect an extension of credit from a Bonanno family associate.
According to the court indictment, during an April 26, 2013, consensual recording of Vincent Asaro and John Ragano, Ragano asked Asaro, “When do we stab this guy in the neck? That’s what I want to know.” Asaro responded, “Stab him today.” Asaro continued, “I told you to give him a beating. Give him a beating, I told you that. Listen I sent three guys there to give him a beating, already, so it won’t be the first time he got a beating from me.”
If convicted, Vincent Asaro faces life imprisonment, and each of his co- defendants faces a statutory maximum sentence of 20 years’ imprisonment.
“These ‘goodfellas’ thought they had a license to steal, a license to kill, and a license to do whatever they wanted. However, today’s arrests of the five members of the Bonanno crime family brings an end to their violent and ruthless ways. As alleged in the indictment, Vincent Asaro and his co-conspirators were not only involved in typical mob activities of extortion and murder, but Asaro himself was in on one of the most notorious heists - the Lufthansa robbery in 1978. It may be decades later, but the FBI’s determination to investigate and bring wiseguys to justice will never waver,” stated FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge Venizelos.
Asaro, 78, DiFiore, 70, Jerome Asaro, 55, Jack Bonventre, 45, and John Ragano, 52, were arrested Thursday morning and are scheduled to be arraigned this afternoon before U.S. Magistrate Judge Marilyn D. Go at the federal courthouse in Brooklyn.