Vincent Asaro was once a powerful captain in the Bonanno crime family of the New York mafia overseeing criminal enterprises in and around JFK Airport. Testimony at his ongoing racketeering trial has not only shed new light on the infamous 1978 Lufthansa robbery at JFK, but also on Asaro’s decline and the rigors of the mob lifestyle. Asaro’s own cousin and fellow mobster Gaspare Valenti decided to turn rat back in 2008 wearing a wire and recording hundreds of hours of conversations with Bonanno mobsters including Vincent. These tapes along with Valenti’s testimony as being used in an attempt to convict Asaro of racketeering, which include his part in Lufthansa heist, loan sharking, and even murder.
According to sources Valenti’s desire to leave the mafia lifestyle and his horrible financial situation were his reasons for turning on his mob pals. His testimony has not only shed new light on the Lufthansa heist and other mafia crimes, but also on the hardships of the mob lifestyle. Asaro once a powerful mafia captain had seen his influence inside his own crime family deteriorate and the pitfalls on mob life take its toll leaving him in serious financial hardship. Secretly recorded conversations made by Valenti and played at the ongoing racketeering trial show exactly how far the mobsters had fallen.
Asaro can be heard on the tapes giving several examples of his deteriorating financial situation and mob status. In one conversation he talks about not even being welcomed at a social club in which he has been a long time member telling Valenti “People hate me in there; I don’t pay my dues.” He even goes on a rant about his own son Jerome Asaro in a separate conversation after asking for some financial help saying “Jerry’s for Jerry,” Asaro lamented on tape. “F______ greedy c—sucker…I lost my son. I lost my son when I made him a skipper. I lost my son when I put him there.” The duo even discuss other mob pals who have fallen on hard times just as they have.
According to the feds Asaro personally made off with between $500,000 and $750,000 from the airport robbery and was living the high life at the height of his mob power. But in recent years had sunk to pawning his own stuff and shaking down low level drug dealers and even family members to make ends meat. During one of the taped conversations Valenti says “What a shame. Look at what we come down to, eh,” and Asaro answers saying “It’s this life. We did it to ourselves. It’s a curse with this f—— gambling.” There was even a discussion between them about how difficult it has become to get food stamps with Valenti telling Asaro he would have a better chance if he told the social worker he had nothing to eat in the house.
Seems both men had outlived their usefulness in the mob and had been left out in the cold by their mob family. Valenti, however seems to have exercised his only remaining out which was turning on his former criminal organization.