Old School Americana & Nostalgia


Vincent ‘Vinny’ Asaro, Alleged Mobster Who Inspired ‘Goodfellas,’ Dead at 86

Vincent ‘Vinny’ Asaro, Alleged Mobster Who Inspired ‘Goodfellas,’ Dead at 86

Vincent “Vinny” Asaro, the alleged mobster who inspired the film Goodfellas, has reportedly passed away. He was 86 years old at the time of his death.

According to the New York Post, Asaro was busted in the $6 million Lufthansa heist at the JFK airport in 1978. He died three years after he was released from prison. Born in 1937, the alleged mobster notably joined the organized crime business like his father and uncle. He became a captain of the Bonanno Family by the mid-1970s. 

Vincent “Vinny” Asaro was part of the heist crew in the Lufthansa incident, orchestrated by James “Jimmy the Gent” Burke. Burke was a Lucchese family associate that Robert DeNiro portrayed in Goodfellas. Another member of the heist was Tommy “Tommy Two Guns” DeSimone, portrayed by Joe Pesci in the film. The crew broke into a Lufthansa hangar at the Queens airport on December 11, 1978. They ended up stealing money and jewelry, totaling up to $6 million. 

Vincent ‘Vinny’ Asaro’s Cousin Testified Against Him During the Heist Trial

During the 2015 trial, Vincent “Vinny” Asaro’s cousin, Gaspare Valenti, testified that the crew loaded up a total of 50 boxes. “There were burlap sacks of gold chains, crates of watches, metal boxes with three drawers in them – and each drawer had diamonds and emeralds in it.”

Valenti also said that the whole situation was “euphoria” to everyone involved. “We thought there was $2 million and there was $6 million,” he continued. “Without the gold. Without the German money.” 

Although Valenti testified against him, the jury acquitted Vincent “Vinny” Asaro for his involvement in the heist as well as the unrelated gangland murder of mob associate Paul Katz, which occurred in 1969. For him testifying, Valenti dodged facing up to 20 years in prison. Asaro was put on probation for cooperating. 

Years After the 1978 Heist, Asaro Was Once Again in Trouble With the Law.

Asaro notoriously sent out a crew of his henchmen, to go after a driver who had cut him off at a traffic light in April 2012. The crew torched the vehicle. “I made arrangements for someone to take care of it and it was done,” Asaro recalled. 

Vincent “Vinny” Asaro pleaded guilty and was sentenced to eight years in prison. He was released early in 2020 after he had a stroke in prison. Asaro was granted a “compassionate release” due to his being vulnerable to the COVID-19 virus. 

The New York Post further reports that the exact cause of Asaro’s death has not been disclosed. His funeral will be held at St. Helen’s Catholic Church in Queens on Friday (October 27th).