If you haven’t seen the 1990 classic Goodfellas I suggest you do yourself a favour and clear some time in your schedule. Mob movies don’t come much better and the performances of Joe Pesci and Lorraine Bracco, both of whom took home Oscars for their supporting roles, is some real top notch stuff.
Now that you’ve brushed up on the Hollywood classic let’s hear from the men the classic was based on, the mobsters who actually took part in the famed 1978 robbery. The details have come to light during the trial of former Mafia boss Vincent Asaro, his foot soldier Gaspare Valenti turning snitch and testifying against him. This below from TIME:
The defendant, Vincent Asaro [pictured above], was “very happy, really euphoric” when he learned about the mountain of $100 bills scored in the armed holdup in 1978, Gaspare Valenti told a jury in Brooklyn federal court. “We thought there was going to be $2 million in cash and there was $6 million.”
Nice little bonus that, although it never stopped Valenti from approaching the FBI in 2008 to dish the dirt on his own cousin Asaro:
Valenti testified that his involvement in the heist orchestrated by James “Jimmy the Gent” Burke — played by Robert De Niro in the movie — began when Asaro told him, “Jimmy Burke has a big score at the airport coming up, and you’re invited to go.”
The plan called for Valenti and another robber to take a stolen black van to the airport terminal and use bolt cutters to break into a side entrance, he said. Once inside the terminal, they teamed up with other armed and masked bandits who were holding several workers hostage in a lunch room, he said.
The crew forced one of the workers to open a safe, where they discovered dozens of boxes containing packets holding $125,000 each, bags of gold chains and containers with precious gems that they threw into the van, he said. They then fled and rendezvoused with Asaro and Burke, who were in a car about a mile away, he said.
One rather glaring flaw in the plan was that crew had never discussed any kind of escape blueprint or meeting place after, although all’s well that ends well:
Asaro and Burke decided the haul should be put in the basement of Valenti’s Brooklyn home before it was moved to various stash houses, the witness said. Burke “gave very little money out at the beginning,” he said, and when he did, it was with a caveat: Don’t spend it in a lavish way that would draw the attention of law enforcement.
Still, he said, Asaro used it to buy a second home, a boat and a Bill Blass designer edition of a Lincoln Continental. Prosecutors have said Asaro also gambled away a big chunk of his $750,000 cut at the racetrack.
I suppose if you’ve watched much of The Sopranos you’re probably thinking that Valenti should have adhered to the Mafia’s sacred vow of silence. For his alleged crimes Asaro could face life in prison, although at the ripe old age of 80 he should be sleeping with the fishes in the not-too-distant future anyway.
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