The government's star cooperating witness completed his first week of testimony in the Lufthansa heist trial Friday with a dramatic description of the moment defendant Vincent Asaro realized he had been betrayed by his own cousin.
Gaspare Valenti said it happened when he was in a car with Asaro in 2013 and tipped him off that federal agents were at a Queens home where decades earlier Asaro had Valenti help bury the body of Paul Katz, a suspected informant allegedly choked with a dog chain, in the basement.
Although Asaro made no accusation in the recorded conversation outside the Esquire Diner in Queens, Valenti said, "He knew that I was an informant. A look of disgust, a look of hatred. A look of disgusted, how could you do this to me?"
Valenti said that was the last time he laid eyes on Asaro, 80, of Howard Beach, an alleged former Bonanno family capo, until he saw him in Brooklyn federal court, where Asaro is on trial for racketeering including the Katz murder and the 1978 "Goodfellas" robbery of $6 million at Lufthansa's JFK terminal.
In earlier testimony, Valenti said he was a member of the crew that pulled off the theft, and Asaro was a planner along with Jimmy Burke, the mob associate played by Robert De Niro in the film. Valenti, 68, began wearing a wire for the FBI in 2008 and recorded conversations until 2013. In one of the tapes played Friday, Valenti and Asaro had harsh words for Henry Hill -- the onetime mob associate who helped supply information used in the Lufthansa theft, and then became an informant and wrote the book that was the basis for "Goodfellas."
The occasion for their June 15, 2012, conversation was Valenti asking Asaro if he had gone to a wake for Hill, who had died a few days earlier, saying his death was "one less left of Lufthansa."
"No," Asaro answered.
The two men then exchanged six different expletives and epithets to share their mutual low opinion of Hill, who never described Asaro or Valenti as being participants in Lufthansa in his book.
"He wasn't there with us," Valenti told jurors. "He made a big thing that he was in on the score, and he wasn't."