New Book Reveals Mystery of 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The 13,000-word book includes portions of an unpublished interview with Henry Hill, a confidant of Jimmy Burke, who masterminded the Lufthansa heist.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.

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

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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.

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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.

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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”

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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.

Dr. Alan Hoffer’s Neighbor Describes Bizarre Attack in Cleveland Hts.

“The Shouting Was So Loud…It Sounded Like a Street Fight” — Laura Paglin, Dellwood Road resident and 9-1-1 caller

alanhoffer(UPDATED) In the pre-dawn darkness of Sept. 4, Dellwood Road residents Laura Paglin and her husband Duane Verh were readying for work. Three houses away, Dr. Alan Hoffer (at left) was fighting for his life.

Hoffer had been ambushed in a ninja-style attack by Dr. Georges Bensimhon, the 66-year-old father of Hoffer’s estranged wife, Danielle Bensimhon.

During the attack, Hoffer, 39, was struck repeatedly in the head and arms with a steel crowbar. Eventually, Hoffer managed to overpower Bensimhon, who had been hiding in the shrubbery behind Hoffer’s house. Hoffer’s repeated shouts for help were heard by Paglin and Verh.  

“We thought somebody was getting mugged or there was a street fight,” says Paglin. “The shouting was disturbing and unusual, especially for this quiet neighborhood.” 

When Verh went outside to investigate the disturbance, he found the 250-pound Hoffer sitting atop the 5-foot-7 Bensimhon, an anesthesiologist from Allentown, Pa. Hoffer was bleeding profusely from his face, arms and neck. 

Paglin then dialed 9-1-1 and awaited the arrival of Cleveland Heights police. Minutes later, a patrol car sped down Dellwood, directed to Hoffer’s house by Paglin and other neighbors who had gathered outside.

“When police arrived, Dr. Hoffer was still on top of Bensimhon, who was laying on his stomach,” Paglin says. “Hoffer had him under control. He’s a big guy and Bensimhon was complaining that he couldn’t breathe. He told Dr. Hoffer in an exasperated tone: ‘Alan, will you get off of me. My arm is broken!'”

Bensimhon’s alleged weapon was laying nearby. Initially it was described by a neighbor as a “scythe,” but police say it is a 12-inch crowbar with a sharpened point. The instrument had been wrapped in athletic tape. Also found nearby was a backpack, belonging to Bensimhon, that contained syringes and injectable sedatives. Police described Bensimhon as wearing a black mask and dressed all in black at the time of his arrest. He wore purple latex surgical gloves, and carried a silver flashlight in his pants pocket.

According to a police statement, Hoffer said that he was beaten with the crow bar and bitten repeatedly. He was treated at University Hospitals for his injuries, while Bensimhon was taken to the Cleveland Clinic. 

Paglin, a longtime neighbor of Hoffer’s, describes him as a “nice guy who’s quiet and very pleasant.” She says she was shocked to learn that Hoffer was attacked by a family member. However, Alan Hoffer’s father, Dr. Barry Hoffer told police there has been a history of bad blood between his son and Dr. Bensimhon, including several threats of violence. 

Since 2011, Alan Hoffer and Danielle Bensimhon have been involved in a contentious divorce and custody battle over their daughter, who is age 1. On the morning of the attack, Hoffer was preparing to leave for Florida to pick up the girl, police said.

Two years ago, Danielle Bensimhon, 34, relocated to West Palm Beach, Fla. A graduate of Oberlin College, she works as a realtor and is a cantor at Temple Beth David in Palm Beach Gardens. 

 Hoffer, a neurological surgeon at University Hospitals of Cleveland, lives on Dellwood with his 7-year-old daughter from a previous marriage. 

Paglin says in the day or two after the attack, Dellwood Road residents were visited by a private investigator, who had been hired on behalf of Dr. Bensimhon. “He was talking to all the neighbors…just asking what we saw or heard. I guess he was gathering information for Bensimhon’s defense lawyers,” she says. 

When asked if she had any theories about Bensimhon’s failed “hit”, Paglin, who works as a filmmaker, says she wonders whether the physician had plans to “knock out” Dr. Hoffer with sedatives, then transport him elsewhere. Police found Bensimhon’s car parked at the nearby Cleveland Heights Public Library on Lee Road.

Bensimhon was indicted Sept. 12 on charges of attempted murder, attempted aggravated murder, felonious assault, and kidnapping. His arraignment is set for Sept. 25 at Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court. Bensimhon was born in Morocco and has U.S. and Israeli passports. As a condition of bail, Bensimhon surrendered his passports, which were reportedly held by Danielle

DOCTOR ATTACKS DOCTOR: Bizarre Incident in Cleveland suburb (first reported here)

BensimhonDressed in black and clutching a 12-inch metal pry bar, Dr. Georges “Yossi” Bensimhon (pictured at left) crouched in the bushes behind his son-in-law’s house in the early morning hours of Sept. 4.

Police say Bensimhon, an anesthesiologist from Allentown, Pa., had driven six hours to Cleveland Heights with intentions of administering the Big Sleep to Dr. Alan Hoffer, who is engaged in a bitter divorce with Bensimhon’s daughter, Danielle Bensimhon.

The attack was thwarted, however, when Hoffer, after stepping out his back door at 5:30 a.m., heard rustling behind him. The 66-year-old Bensimhon, garbed in a black mask and purple surgical gloves, swung the metal bar at Hoffer, hitting him repeatedly in the head and arms. Although bloodied and dazed, Hoffer, a neurosurgeon at the Cleveland Clinic, was able to overpower the 5-foot-7 Bensimhon and restrain him until his neighbors called police.

Cleveland Heights police charged Bensimhon, reportedly a veteran of the Israeli Army, with attempted aggravated murder, breaking and entering, and possession of criminal tools. Investigators recovered a backpack at the scene, apparently belonging to Bensimhon, that contained hypodermic needles and various injectable sedatives.

Law enforcement officials said they have not ascertained whether Danielle Bensimhon had prior knowledge of her father’s intentions. On the morning of the attack, Hoffer was planning to drive to the Cleveland airport to pick up his young daughter, who lives in North Miami Beach with Danielle. Hoffer and his estranged wife are involved in a custody battle over their daughter.

The couple are scheduled to begin their contested divorce trial on Sept. 30. Danielle, who moved to Florida two years ago, works as a realtor and is also a cantor at Temple Beth David in Palm Beach Gardens. She previously was a cantor at Congregation Bethaynu in Pepper Pike, an eastern suburb of Cleveland.

Hoffer’s father, Dr. Barry Hoffer, told police there had been problems between his son and Dr. Bensimhon in the past, “including threats.”

(Update) Dr. Bensimhon was indicted Sept. 12 in Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court on charges of kidnapping, felonious assault, attempted murder, and attempted aggravated murder.