Commack man charged in connection with Lufthansa heist seeking bail

Vincent Asaro is escorted from FBI offices in Vincent Asaro is escorted from FBI offices in lower Manhattan. Asaro was arrested in connection with the infamous Lufthansa heist at Kennedy Airport in 1978, which was chronicled in the movie "Goodfellas." (Jan. 23, 2014) Photo Credit: Charles Eckert

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A reputed high-ranking Bonanno crime family member from Commack is seeking to get out on bail after being arrested last month in a case involving the infamous December 1978 Lufthansa heist.

At a hearing Wednesday in federal court in Brooklyn, a lawyer for Thomas DiFiore, 70, said he will file papers Monday in an effort to spring his client from a federal lockup.

Attorney Steve Zissou also indicated to Judge Allyne Ross that he is considering asking that the case of DiFiore, who was indicted along with four other men, be handled separately from two defendants accused of taking part in the Lufthansa theft.

Zissou noted that DiFiore wasn't charged with involvement in the $6-million Kennedy Airport robbery but instead faces unrelated extortion charges that allegedly occurred decades later.

DiFiore, who federal prosecutors have claimed in court papers has been a member of the administration of the Bonanno family, has been in custody since late January. At that time he was arrested with Vincent Asaro and his son Jerome Asaro, both considered by the FBI to be reputed members of the Bonanno family.

The elder Asaro, according to the indictment, was involved in the planning and execution of the Lufthansa theft along with the late Jimmy Burke. It was Burke, law enforcement officials have said, who took much of the purloined cash and jewels and paid it in tribute to organized crime families or used it for himself.

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Vincent Asaro was also accused in the indictment of involvement in the 1969 murder of Paul Katz, a man Burke believed was an informant. Jerome Asaro also allegedly took part digging up Katz's remains in 1985 and putting them the basement of one of Burke's homes in Queens, according to court papers.

DiFiore, the Asaros and the defendants were all in court Wednesday. A bespectacled, gray-haired man, DiFiore blew kisses to members of his family seated in the courtroom as he entered and left the room.

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