JUST RELEASED: New Book Reveals Mystery of 1978 Lufthansa Airlines Heist

How Did $6 Million in Cash and Jewelry Seemingly Vanish? Ex-Wiseguy Tells All

In a new short-format book, Dominick Cicale, a former high-ranking member of the Bonanno crime family, reveals the bizarre story of what happened to the loot stolen from the Lufthansa Airlines cargo vault at JFK International airport on Dec. 11, 1978. Available as e-book or paperback on Amazon. 

Cover_MystLuftAHeist-webThe robbery has puzzled the FBI for 37 years. At the time, it was the largest cash robbery in U.S. history. The take would be worth about $23 million in today’s dollars. Only one heist participant was ever convicted for the crime and the whereabouts of the loot has remained a secret…until now. 

Cicale not only discloses never-before-told details about the stolen money, but shares candid insights about mob figures John Gotti, Vincent “Vinny Gorgeous” Basciano, Anthony “Bruno” Indelicato, and John Gotti Jr. 

The 13,000-word book includes portions of an unpublished interview with Henry Hill, a confidant of Jimmy Burke, who masterminded the Lufthansa heist. The book is co-authored by journalist Robert Sberna and Cicale. Sberna interviewed Henry Hill in 1989 while Hill was living in California. Hill and the Lufthansa case were immortalized in the Martin Scorsese movie “Goodfellas.”

Burke (nicknamed Jimmy the Gent) is suspected of murdering most of his accomplices soon after the robbery in order to keep their shares and to ensure that they could never betray him. However, Cicale says that Burke was obligated to pay significant portions to the heads of the Bonanno, Gambino and Lucchese families as tribute. The various mob bosses had formed an alliance to run criminal enterprises at JFK, including truck hijackings, cargo theft, bookmaking, drug trafficking, and labor racketeering.

JimmyBurke1
James “Jimmy the Gent” Burke (center) in the custody of FBI agents.

But what happened to the remainder of the Lufthansa loot? Cicale shares the surprising answer in “The Mystery of the Lufthansa Airlines Heist.”   

amazonlogo3

HenryHillmug
Henry Hill, a government informant, was the central character in the book “Wiseguy” and the movie “Goodfellas.”

Cicale, who turned government cooperator in 2006, was released from prison in 2013. He had served eight years of a 10-year sentence for various mob-related crimes, including murder.

Cicale had originally faced two life terms for his involvement in a pair of killings ordered by Vincent “Vinny Gorgeous” Basciano, a capo in the Bonanno family. But Brooklyn Federal Judge Nicholas Garaufis reduced Cicale’s sentence, citing his “extraordinary assistance” in helping the government fight organized crime. Cicale testified against numerous ranking mobsters, including Basciano, Patrick “Patty from the Bronx” DeFilippo, and John Gotti Jr. 

CicalePhoto
Cicale (right) with Vincent “Vinny Gorgeous” Basciano, his one-time friend and the former acting boss of the Bonanno crime family. Basciano is now serving two life sentences in the federal “supermax” prison in Florence, Colorado.

Was Ex-Mobster Sandbagged by Federal Judge’s Staff?

Mob Turncoat Dominick Cicale Questions Release of His Letter to Newspaper

A former Bonanno crime family captain says he’s surprised and perturbed that a personal letter he sent to the office of a federal judge has ended up in the New York Post.

Dominick Cicale, who was a key government witness against his Bonanno colleagues in 2012, mailed a letter on July 3, 2014 to Manhattan Judge Richard Sullivan asking for leniency in the sentencing of Joseph Basciano. Sullivan had recently sentenced the 28-year-old Basciano to six months in prison for running a marijuana distribution network with his brothers Steven and Vincent.

CicalePhoto
Vincent Basciano Sr. (left) and Dominick Cicale

The three men are all sons of Vincent “Vinny Gorgeous” Basciano Sr., the former acting boss of the Bonanno crime family. Basciano is currently serving two life sentences in the federal supermax prison in Florence, Colo., where he is locked down 23 hours a day. In irony of Shakespearean proportions, Basciano’s conviction is due, in large part, to the testimony of Cicale, his former protege.

Although Sullivan seemed charitable in his sentencing of Joseph Basciano, Cicale told the judge in his letter that even a short prison stint could doom Basciano—the youngest of Vinny Gorgeous’s boys—to a career in organized crime. Cicale, who knew Joseph as a youngster, is concerned that he will be influenced by fellow prisoners who will try to take advantage of his father’s mob legacy.

“Everyone in [jail] will be watching, guiding and grooming him out of respect for Vincent Sr.’s stature and status,” wrote Cicale. “This good young man will walk out of federal prison feeling that he is the next John Gotti.”

The letter that Cicale sent to Sullivan somehow made its way into the pages of the July 9, 2014 New York Post. nypost.com/2014/07/09/ex-bonanno-capo-asks-judge-to-show-leniency-for-mobsters-son.

TheCrimeBeat.com reached out to Cicale, who was released from prison in 2013 and chose not to enter the federal witness protection program. He was tight-lipped about the seemingly cozy arrangement between Judge’s Sullivan’s office and the New York Post.

“I don’t have much to say about it,” said Cicale. He noted, however, that his letter was intended as a confidential and sincere gesture on behalf of Joseph Basciano. “I’m not blaming the New York Post for publishing the letter. They are just doing their job. But I’m curious about how they got the letter? Is there a leak in the judge’s office or was the letter provided to the newspaper?”

Of course, TheCrimeBeat.com has acquired a copy of the original letter. Click here to read Cicale’s appeal to Judge Sullivan.

Ex-Bonanno Capo Dominick Cicale Asks Leniency for Mobster’s Son

New York Post Reports That Cicale Wrote To Federal Judge 

CicalePhoto
Dominick Cicale (right) with Vincent “Vinnie Gorgeous.” Basciano’s three sons were busted for drug dealing.

In an unusual move, mob informant Dominick Cicale, 46, has appealed to Manhattan federal Judge Richard Sullivan for leniency in the sentencing of Joseph Basciano, the son of Vincent “Vinny Gorgeous” Basciano Sr.

Sullivan recently sentenced the younger Basciano to six months in prison for operating a marijuana distribution ring with his brothers Steven and Vincent Jr.  Despite the apparent leniency shown by Sullivan towards the 28-year-old Joseph, Cicale told the jurist that even a short time in jail could take him down the path to becoming a career mobster.

According to the New York Post article, nypost.com/2014/07/09/ex-bonanno-capo-asks-judge-to-show-leniency-for-mobsters-son, Cicale wrote: “Everyone [in jail] will be watching, guiding and grooming him out of respect for Vincent Sr.’s stature and status. This good young man will walk out of federal prison feeling that he is the next John Gotti.”

JosephBasciano
Joseph Basciano leaving federal court

In 2012, Cicale had faced two life terms for the same murders that Vincent Sr. had been charged with. Cicale elected to turn government witness, providing crucial testimony that put away Basciano and other high-ranking Bonanno crime family members. Brooklyn federal Judge Nicholas Garaufis commended Cicale for his cooperation, saying he provided  “extraordinary assistance” to the federal government.

Cicale was released in 2013 after spending nearly eight years behind bars. He has recently been in the news for his comments about the 1978 Lufthansa Airlines heist (the basis for the movie “Goodfellas”).  The CrimeBeat.com has reached out to Cicale regarding his letter to Judge Sullivan. It is not known how Cicale’s letter reached the New York Post.

 

 

Dr. Georges Bensimhon Sentenced to 3 Years in Prison for Attack on Son-In-Law

Allentown Doctor Used Metal Bar in Sept. 2013 Attack in Cleveland Heights

BensimhonMug2
Dr. Georges Bensimhon

CLEVELAND, Ohio — Dr. Georges Bensimhon, 67, an anesthesiologist from Allentown, will serve three years in prison for a bloody attack on his former son-in-law, Dr. Seth Alan Hoffer.

The doctor on doctor assault occurred in the pre-dawn hours of Sept. 4 in suburban Cleveland Heights. Bensimhon, dressed in a mask and black ninja-style outfit, ambushed Hoffer as he stepped from the back door of his house on Dellwood Road.

alanhoffer
Dr. Seth Alan Hoffer

Hoffer, a neurosurgeon at University Hospitals, was planning to drive to the airport to catch a flight to Florida, where he intended to pick up his young daughter. Hoffer was bringing his daughter to Ohio for Rosh Hashanah, the start of the Jewish New Year.

As Hoffer, 40, emerged from his house at 5:30 a.m., Bensimhon leapt from nearby bushes and smashed him in the head with a 12-inch clawed pry bar. Hoffer, although dazed and bloodied, was able to gain control of the much smaller Bensimhon and sat on him. Hoffer was unaware that his attacker was his father-in-law until he heard Bensimhon say, “Alan, get off me. I can’t breathe.”

Both Hoffer and Bensimhon were taken to area hospitals for treatment, with Hoffer found to have bite marks on his neck and shoulder. Bensimhon suffered a broken arm during the botched attack.

At his sentencing in Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court, Bensimhon offered little motive for the attack. But police reports show that his daughter, Danielle Bensimhon, was engaged in a contentious divorce with Hoffer. The couple was battling over custody of their one-year-old daughter.

danielle_bensimhon-150x150
Danielle Bensimhon

According to police and Dellwood Road neighbors, Dr. Bensimhon had reportedly threatened Hoffer several times in the past. Danielle had moved to south Florida two years ago with the couple’s daughter. She works as a realtor and is a cantor at Temple Beth David in Palm Beach Gardens. Hoffer has a 7-year-old daughter from a previous marriage. His first wife died when the girl was 14 months old. The daughter was in the house when the attack occurred.

During their investigation, Cleveland Heights police searched the bushes behind Hoffer’s house and found a backpack belonging to Bensimhon. Inside the backpack were syringes loaded with several types of sedatives, including ketamine, a powerful hallucinogen that is closely related to PCP. Prosecutors–calling  the stash a “deadly drug cocktail”–said the drugs, if administered, could have proven fatal to Hoffer.

Police found Bensimhon’s car about a half-mile away in the parking lot of the Cleveland Heights-University Heights Library. He had driven 400 miles to Cleveland Heights on the night before the attack.

At his sentencing, Bensimhon apologized to Hoffer and asked the court for leniency. “I am not a killer,” he said. “I am a healer.”

“Georges Bensimhon is a good man,” added his defense attorney, Larry Zukerman. “He’s a war hero who was decorated by (Israeli Prime Minister) Golda Meir.”

Bensimhon told the court that he did not want to hurt Hoffer, but only wanted to frighten him and make him miss his flight to Florida. Bensimhon claimed that he didn’t want Danielle to spend Rosh Hashanah without her daughter. Police evidence showed that a tire on Hoffer’s car had been slashed, apparently by Bensimhon.

Bensimhon was originally indicted on charges of attempted aggravated murder, but in April he pleaded guilty to a reduced charge of felonious assault.

In addition to his prison sentence, Bensimhon was ordered to pay $2,510 in restitution to Hoffer. He will also serve three years probation after he is released from prison.

JUST RELEASED: New Book Reveals Mystery of 1978 Lufthansa Airlines Heist

How Did $6 Million in Cash and Jewelry Seemingly Vanish? Ex-Wiseguy Tells All

In a new short-format book, Dominick Cicale, a former high-ranking member of the Bonanno crime family, reveals the bizarre story of what happened to the loot taken from the Lufthansa Airlines cargo vault at JFK International airport on Dec. 11, 1978. E-book and paperback available now on Amazon

Cover_MystLuftAHeist-webThe robbery has puzzled the FBI for 37 years. At the time, it was the largest cash robbery in U.S. history. The take would be worth about $23 million in today’s dollars. Only one heist participant was ever convicted for the crime and the whereabouts of the loot has remained a secret…until now.

Cicale not only discloses never-before-told details about the stolen money, but shares candid insights about mob figures John Gotti, Vincent “Vinny Gorgeous” Basciano, Anthony “Bruno” Indelicato, and John Gotti Jr.

The book includes portions of an unpublished interview with Henry Hill, a confidant of Jimmy Burke, who masterminded the Lufthansa heist. The 13,000-word book is co-authored by journalist Robert Sberna and Cicale. Sberna interviewed Henry Hill in 1989 while Hill was living in California. Hill and the Lufthansa case were immortalized in the Martin Scorsese movie “Goodfellas.”

Burke (nicknamed Jimmy the Gent) is suspected of murdering most of his accomplices soon after the robbery in order to keep their shares and to ensure that they could never betray him. However, Cicale says that Burke was obligated to pay significant portions to the heads of the Bonanno, Gambino and Lucchese families as tribute. The various mob bosses had formed an alliance to run criminal enterprises at JFK, including truck hijackings, cargo theft, bookmaking, drug trafficking, and labor racketeering.

JimmyBurke1
James “Jimmy the Gent” Burke (center) in the custody of FBI agents.

But what happened to the remainder of the Lufthansa loot? Cicale shares the surprising answer in “The Mystery of the Lufthansa Airlines Heist.”  

amazonlogo3

HenryHillmug
Henry Hill mug shot. Hill was the central character in the book “Wiseguy” and the movie “Goodfellas.”

Cicale, who turned government cooperator in 2006, was released from prison in 2013. He had served eight years of a 10-year sentence for various mob-related crimes, including murder.

Cicale had originally faced two life terms for his involvement in a pair of killings ordered by Vincent “Vinny Gorgeous” Basciano, a capo in the Bonanno family. But Brooklyn Federal Judge Nicholas Garaufis reduced Cicale’s sentence, citing his “extraordinary assistance” in helping the government fight organized crime. Cicale testified against numerous ranking mobsters, including Basciano, Patrick “Patty from the Bronx” DeFilippo, and John Gotti Jr.

CicalePhoto
Vincent “Vinny Gorgeous” Basciano (left) with one-time protege Dominick Cicale. Basciano is serving two life sentences in the “supermax” federal prison in Florence, Colorado.

 

New Book Reveals What Happened to Loot from the Lufthansa Airlines Heist

Ex-Bonanno Wiseguy Tells All

In a new book, Dominick Cicale, a former high-ranking member of the Bonanno crime family, reveals the bizarre story of what happened to the loot taken from the Lufthansa Airlines cargo vault at JFK airport on Dec. 11, 1978. E-book and paperback available on Amazon

Cover_MystLuftAHeist-webThe robbery has puzzled the FBI for 37 years. At the time, it was the largest cash robbery in U.S. history. The take would be worth about $23 million in today’s dollars. Only one heist participant was ever convicted for the crime and the whereabouts of the loot has remained a secret…until now.

In this short-format e-book, Cicale not only discloses never-before-told details about the stolen money, but shares candid insights about mob figures John Gotti, Vincent “Vinny Gorgeous” Basciano, Anthony “Bruno” Indelicato, and John Gotti Jr.

The book includes portions of an unpublished interview with Henry Hill, a confidant of Jimmy Burke, who masterminded the Lufthansa heist. The 13,000-word book is co-authored by journalist Robert Sberna and Cicale. Sberna interviewed Henry Hill in 1989 while Hill was living in California. Hill and the Lufthansa case were immortalized in the Martin Scorsese movie “Goodfellas.”

Burke (nicknamed Jimmy the Gent) is suspected of murdering most of his accomplices soon after the robbery in order to keep their shares and to ensure that they could never betray him. However, Cicale says that Burke was obligated to pay significant portions to the heads of the Bonanno, Gambino and Lucchese families as tribute. The various mob bosses had formed an alliance to run criminal enterprises at JFK, including truck hijackings, cargo theft, bookmaking, drug trafficking, and labor racketeering.

JimmyBurke1
James “Jimmy the Gent” Burke (center) in the custody of FBI agents

But what happened to the remainder of the Lufthansa loot? Cicale shares the surprising answer in “The Mystery of the Lufthansa Airlines Heist.”  

amazonlogo3

HenryHillmug
Henry Hill was the central character in the book “Wiseguy” and the movie “Goodfellas.”

Cicale, who turned government cooperator in 2006, was released from prison in 2013. He had served eight years of a 10-year sentence for various mob-related crimes, including murder.

Cicale had originally faced two life terms for his involvement in a pair of killings ordered by Vincent “Vinny Gorgeous” Basciano, a capo in the Bonanno family. But Brooklyn Federal Judge Nicholas Garaufis reduced Cicale’s sentence, citing his “extraordinary assistance” in helping the government fight organized crime. Cicale testified against numerous ranking mobsters, including Basciano, Patrick “Patty from the Bronx” DeFilippo, and John Gotti Jr.

CicalePhoto
Cicale (right) with Vincent “Vinny Gorgeous” Basciano, his one-time friend and the former acting boss of the Bonanno crime family. Basciano is now serving two life sentences in the federal “supermax” prison in Florence, Colorado.

 

Ambush Doc Pleads Not Guilty

“Alan Hoffer Was Reportedly Bitten On His Neck And Shoulder During The Pre-Dawn Attack”

BensimhonMug2
Dr. Georges Bensimhon

CLEVELAND — Accused of trying to kill his son-in-law, Dr. Georges Bensimhon pleaded not guilty Sept. 24 in Cuyahoga County Court.

Bensimhon, a well-respected anesthesiologist from Lehigh County in Pennsylvania, allegedly drove to Cleveland Heights, Ohio and attacked Dr. Alan Hoffer, 39, in the early morning of Sept. 4.

DAnielle2
Danielle Bensimhon

In the ninja-style attack, Bensimhon, who was garbed head-to-toe in black, hid in the bushes behind Hoffer’s house. When Hoffer stepped out of the house at 5:30 a.m., Bensimhon smashed him in the head with a 12-inch metal pry bar. Hoffer, who is involved in a bitter divorce with Bensimhon’s daughter, Danielle Bensimhon, overpowered his 66-year-old assailant. Bensimhon suffered a broken arm during the botched “hit.”

Hoffer, a neurosurgeon, told police that on the morning of the attack, he had prearranged plans to to fly to Florida to pick up his daughter.  Describing the fight, Hoffer said he heard footsteps just seconds before he was struck. He was dazed and bloodied, but he managed to gain control of the smaller Bensimhon and sat on him. When Hoffer heard his masked attacker yell, “Alan, get off me. I can’t breathe,” he recognized the voice as that of Bensimhon.

Both Hoffer and Bensimhon were taken to area hospitals for treatment, with Hoffer found to have bite marks on his neck and shoulder.

During their investigation, officers found spinal needles, some filled with anesthetics and sedatives, in a backpack that apparently belonged to Bensimhon. The officers did not speculate why Bensimhon had brought the syringes and drugs to Hoffer’s house or what he intended to do with the supplies. Bensimhon’s car was found about a half-mile away in the parking lot of the Cleveland Heights library.

Hoffer’s neighbors on Dellwood Road reported that Hoffer and his estranged wife were in the middle of a nasty divorce that included a custody battle over their 1-year-old daughter. Bensimhon had reportedly threatened Hoffer several times in the past. Danielle moved to south Florida two years ago with the couple’s daughter. She works as a realtor and is a cantor at Temple Beth David in Palm Beach Gardens. Hoffer has another daughter from a previous marriage. She was in the house when the attack occurred.

Bensimhon has been a doctor for three decades, most recently working as an anesthesiologist for Coordinated Health in the Lehigh Valley. He appeared at his arraignment with his Cleveland attorney Larry Zukerman. His bond was raised from $500,000 to $750,000 and he was placed on house arrest. As part of his bond conditions, Bensimhon will be confined to his home in South Whitehall, Pa. He will be electronically monitored and allowed to travel to medical visits and temple.

He was also ordered to have no contact with Hoffer and to surrender his U.S. and Israel passports. The judge also ordered that he is only to return to Cleveland to visit his attorney and only after notifying the court. While in Cleveland, Bensimhon is under court orders to reside with his attorney, who lives in Beachwood. Bensimhon’s first pre-trial hearing is scheduled for Sept. 30. No trial date has been set.

Bensimhon faces one count each of attempted aggravated murder and attempted murder, and two counts each of kidnapping and felonious assault.