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Queens Chronicle

Howard Beach man, four others, nabbed in mob sting

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Posted: Thursday, January 23, 2014 3:50 pm | Updated: 11:57 am, Thu Jan 30, 2014.

Five men, including one from Howard Beach, were arrested Thursday in an FBI raid on alleged members of the Bonanno organized crime family. 

Vincent Asaro, 78, was arrested by the FBI Thursday in a pre-dawn raid at his Howard Beach home and charged with taking part in the 1978 heist of $6 million in cash and jewels at JFK Airport. He was also charged with murder for allegedly killing a man whom he believed to be an informant by strangling him with a dog chain. 

The 1978 robbery, called the Lufthansa heist, was dramatized in the 1990 Martin Scorsese film Goodfellas starring Ray Liotta and Joe Pesci. The robbery was named after the German airline from which cash and jewels were stolen from their cargo terminal at JFK. 

Asaro was also charged with murder for allegedly strangling a suspected informant with a dog chain.

"[Asaro] devoted his adult life to the Bonanno crime family, with a criminal career that spanned decades," said Loretta Lynch, U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of New York, in a statement. "Neither age nor time dimmed Asaro's ruthless ways, as he continued to order violence to carry out mob business in recent months."

The FBI also nabbed four other reputed mobsters Thursday, including Asaro's son Jerome, on racketeering, arson and extortion charges. 

Sources say the indictments are connected to an FBI search last summer at a house on 102nd Road in Ozone Park owned by the daughter of former mobster Jimmy Burke, the alleged mastermind of the Lufthansa heist. 

Investigator found a body in the basement of the home that sources say was positively identified as a man, Paul Katz, Asaro is accused of murdering in 1969. 

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