Bonanno crime family captain Vincent Asaro sits in a Brooklyn courtroom as his former New York mafia pals and even his own cousin take the stand to testify against him. According to opening statements from prosecutors Asaro has been a member of the NY mafia and the Bonanno family since the 1970’s and helped plan the 1978 Lufthansa heist at Kennedy Airport. The robbery was dramatized in the famed mafia movie “Goodfellas” and netted nearly $6 million dollars in cash and jewelry. The governments star witness and mob turncoat who happens to also be Asaro’s counsin Gaspare Valenti took the stand and delivered information about the mafia and the mob heist.
“Gaspare Valenti and Vincent Asaro“
Asked by prosecutors what the most serious crime he ever committed was Valenti answered, “We robbed the Lufthansa air freight company.” Valenti, then told of his once close relationship with his cousin saying that “We had, like, a bond.” But that bond was destroyed back in 2008 when Valenti began cooperating with the feds and agreed to wear a wire secretly recording hundreds of hours of incriminating conversations with Asaro and the Bonanno family members. Valenti, then tabbed Asaro as one of the masterminds of the JFK heist along with former Lucchese family mobster James “Jimmy the Gent” Burke.
Valenti went on to describe in detail how the robbery went down and named members of the robbery crew put together by Asaro and Burke. From the stand he said “We thought there was going to be $2 million in cash and there was $6 million in cash and jewels,” he said. “I was separating gold chains and watches and the diamonds and emeralds and rubies.” Then Asaro brought everyone else back to earth telling the crew “We’ve got to be real careful now. They’ll look to rob us. They’ll look to kill us. It could be anyone who hears of the score.” according to Valenti.
To keep peace among the mob families and to avoid any retribution some of the robbery money was given to former Gambino family boss John Gotti according to Valenti. He even identified Asaro from an FBI surveillance photo as he shook hands with Gotti outside the Bergin Hunt and Fish club in Queens. In what could of been a scene in a mafia movie the whole time Valenti testified his son, Anthony “Fat Sammy” Valenti sat in the court room starring daggers at his pops. Fat Sammy is himself an alleged soldier in the Bonanno family. When Fat Sammy was asked why he was there he said “I’m here for Vinny,” and when then asked about his father, he said “I could care less about him.”
“Anthony “Fat Sammy” Valenti“
Former Bonanno under boss Salvatore Vitale also took the stand to testify against Asaro. He testified that he received only a pittance from the heist in the form of a single gold chain from his former brother-in-law Joseph Massino. He claimed he got the single chain from Massino out of a briefcase brimming with jewelry stolen in the heist that Asaro gave Massino. According to Vitale Massino said of the loot “This is from the Lufthansa score.” Vitale also testified that Asaro was a often a hothead at mafia sit downs and even identified a list of mobster proposed for membership into the Bonanno family which included Asaro’s son Fat Sammy.
The former Bonanno family boss turned rat Joseph Massino is also set to take the stand and testify about the loot kicked up to him by Asaro. At the time of the score Massino was the head of the mafia crew, in which Asaro was a member. Defense attorney Diane Ferrone in her opening statements called the witnesses lined up against Asaro a bunch of liars and murderers. She called Valenti a con artist and said “You shouldn’t believe him because his latest con victim is the United State government.” She said the witnesses used by the government here “When necessary, they lie to each other and they lie to save themselves. … Once a liar, always a liar.”