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Alleged mobster appears to implicate self on JFK heist tapes

In this courtroom sketch, Vincent Asaro, 80, third

In this courtroom sketch, Vincent Asaro, 80, third from left, sits flanked by his defense attorneys during opening arguments Monday, Oct. 19, 2015, at federal court in Brooklyn in his federal racketeering conspiracy trial for his role in the $6 million 1978 Lufthansa cargo heist at Kennedy Airport. Credit: AP / Elizabeth Williams

In a secretly recorded 2011 tape played Thursday at the Lufthansa heist trial, the alleged mobster accused of helping plan the 1978 "Goodfellas" theft of $6 million appeared to take responsibility for it as he lamented being broke.

The comments by Vincent Asaro, now 80, to his cousin Gaspare Valenti, who wore a wire and has fingered Asaro in testimony, were triggered by their money problems and by seeing another old Lufthansa participant begging for cigarettes.

"What a shame," Valenti said. "Look at what we come down to."

Asaro replied by complaining about the late Jimmy Burke, the Lucchese family associate played by Robert De Niro in "Goodfellas," who allegedly planned the heist with Asaro, killed off some gang members afterward, and kept more than his share.

"It's life," Asaro said. "We did it to ourselves, it's a curse of this [expletive] gambling. We never got our right money, what we were supposed to get, we got [expletive] all around, that [expletive] Jimmy kept everything."

Asaro, an alleged ex-Bonanno family captain from Howard Beach, is charged in Brooklyn federal court with racketeering, including murder, robberies, and loan-sharking in addition to the Dec. 11, 1978, Lufthansa stickup at JFK Airport.

Valenti, a former Long Islander, now 68, began cooperating with the feds in 2008 and wore a wire for five years, but the Jan. 7, 2011, tape played Thursday is the closest Asaro has come to discussing Lufthansa.

In other tapes, the two cousins sound as much like "Grumpy Old Men" as "Goodfellas," with Asaro alternating self-pity with expletive-laced anger.

In one, blocked in a parking lot by a tow truck, he exploded in a cascade of curses as Adele's "Someone Like You" played in the background, ending his rant by exclaiming, "All tow truck drivers are rats."

More tapes are scheduled when Valenti retakes the stand Friday.


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