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Published:January 24th, 2014 09:01 EST
With Vincent Asaro`s Arrest, Will We Finally Know How the Lufthansa Heist Was Pulled Off?

With Vincent Asaro`s Arrest, Will We Finally Know How the Lufthansa Heist Was Pulled Off?

By John G. Kays

The gunmen carried at least forty parcels out of the inner vault into the outer vault. They then ordered Eirich to reverse the procedure and lock the inner vault door before he opened the outer vault door. Two of the gunmen were designated to load the parcels into the van while the other gunmen took Eirich back upstairs to the cafeteria. There they gagged him with plastic tape, just as they had done with the rest of his employees. Suddenly one of the gunmen who had been loading the parcels onto the van came puffing into the cafeteria. He had taken off his ski mask and was wiping his brow. Wise Guy Nicholas Pileggi page 210 Pocket Books 1987 paperback edition

It`s good to know, I`ve held on to my weathered, yellowing paperback edition of Nicholas Pigeggi`s classic monograph, Wise Guy; as I read of Vincent Asaro`s arrest yesterday, gripped with some elusive mixture of epiphany, by way of feeling and understanding, I quickly picked up a gem off my bookcase in the kitchen (for a change, I remembered where I had put it from a few weeks ago).

Okay, so I needed to review once again what the now deceased Henry Hill had told Pileggi, as far as details about how the Lufthansa Heist went down. For example, could the Lufhansa employee identify the gunman whose mask came off during the final phase of the huge heist? Was it Tommy DeSimone uncovering his face?

To back the tape up for a moment, I gave a proper reading to several informative articles (I saw on Google News) regarding the Bonanno crime family capo`s (Vincent Asaro) dramatic arrest. I was especially impressed with a piece in The New York Times, As Seen in Goodfellas: Arrest Is Made in `78 Lufhansa Robbery, by Joseph Goldstein. 

Not that I`m any kind of authority on Lufhansa, Jimmy Burke, Henry and Tommy and all the rest (such as Lorraine Bracco playing Henry`s girlfriend and wife), but I`ll have to say, through the years, I have rolled this body of information over my mind, until I felt I had some sort of command over it. 

Okay, so that`s what that body dig in Brooklyn (Jimmy Burke`s old abode) was all about last summer! Paul Katz isn`t connected to Lufhansa, but rather was offed by Jimmy in 1969, since he had a warehouse for stashing highjack loot (probably from JFK Airport), but when the Feds busted his operation, Jimmy and Vincent decided he was a rat and had to go.

 So, The Gent beat him to death with a dog chain (we hear). Jimmy liked to keep his dearly departed compadres close, so he buried him right in his house (or at Robert`s Lounge). I have to say, Burke was smooth operator; he`s been dead for 20 years and the Feds are still trying to piece together how he handled his business.

Even if we eventually learn every detail about the Lufhansa Heist operation, we still need to admit, Jimmy Burke and his crew mostly got away with it. The lions share of the money was never retrieved; the Bonanno bosses got much of it, yet Jimmy kept a good amount for himself. But what are the exact proportions? Who got how much, I`d like to know?

Well, we know he had many of his confederates killed; this is probably the reason why he got away with it. He knew they would rat on him, so he eliminated them. This is why, of course, Henry Hill bailed, before he too would be whacked by a greedy and malicious best friend of his, Jimmy Burke. But how does Vincent Asaro figure into the equation?

Why did Jimmy short Vincent Asaro (a made man)? No way would Jimmy short change Paulie Vario! And how `bout Joseph C. Massino? Did he get a proper cut? (Also, why did he rat?) Where did Jimmy stash his take home? Is it buried under the floor of Robert`s Lounge? 

Just as Jimmy didn`t actually take part in Lufthansa, he let his underlings do his dirty work, so I don`t suppose that Asaro was directly involved. But who was his inside man on the crew? What`s the crew`s exact lineup? Did Henry get it right (as he related to Pileggi)? I wonder...