How Did $6 Million in Cash and Jewelry Vanish? Former Bonanno Wiseguy Knows…
On Dec. 11, 1978, a crew led by mob associate Jimmy Burke pulled off a daring heist at JFK Airport that netted $5 million in cash and $1 million in precious stones.
The case, which was immortalized in Martin Scorcese’s movie “Goodfellas,” has puzzled authorities for 36 years. Only one robber was ever convicted for the crime and the whereabouts of the loot has remained a secret…until now.
In a new book due in April, ex-Bonanno capo Dominick Cicale reveals never-before-told details of the heist and the missing money. At the time, it was the largest cash robbery in U.S. history. The take would be worth about $21 million in today’s dollars.
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. Since Burke wasn’t a “made” [inducted member] of the Mafia, he had to pay tribute to the various mob bosses who had formed an alliance to run criminal enterprises at JFK, including truck hijackings, cargo theft, bookmaking, drug trafficking, and labor racketeering.
But what happened to the remainder of the Lufthansa loot? Cicale will share the inside story in the upcoming book, “Untold Secrets of the Lufthansa Airlines Heist: A Wiseguy Tells All.” The book, penned by journalist Robert Sberna with Cicale, will be available in digital download and paperback format. The book will include excerpts of a firsthand interview with infamous Lucchese associate Henry Hill. A confidant of Burke’s, Hill was the central character in Nicholas Pileggi’s bestselling book, “Wiseguy.”
Cicale, who turned government informant 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 a pair of killings he committed with Vincent “Vinny Gorgeous” Basciano, former acting boss of 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.