Punished for a lifetime of crime: Old-time mobster, 82, acquitted in ‘Goodfellas‘ heist gets EIGHT YEARS in prison for having innocent driver’s car torched after road-rage incident – after prosecutors insist on double time
A legendary airport robbery recounted in the movie ‘Goodfellas‘ came back to haunt an 82-year-old mobster on Thursday, when a judge cited evidence of his role in it while sentencing him to eight years in prison for an unrelated road rage arson.
Vincent Asaro, balding and bespectacled, reacted to the sentence with disgust.
‘I don‘t care what happens to me at this point,‘ he grumbled.
He looked at US District Judge Allyne R. Ross, saying: ‘What you sentenced me to is a death sentence anyway.‘
The sentence was more than double what federal guidelines set out as punishment for the 2012 car torching, which prosecutors said resulted when Asaro directed Bonanno crime family associates to track down and set afire the car of a motorist he believed had cut him off.
Asaro, speaking before the announcement of the sentence, said he was ‘terribly sorry‘.
‘I was on my way home,‘ he said. ‘It happened. It just got out of hand.‘
The judge said she had ‘no illusion‘ that prison will result in Asaro‘s rehabilitation or bring an end to his ‘lifelong career as a member of the Mafia‘.
The prison term resulted from a road rage encounter between Asaro and a motorist who became ‘embroiled in a high-speed chase at the hands of an enraged Asaro,‘ the FBI said
She said she was mindful of Asaro‘s 2015 acquittal in the infamous 1978 heist at the Lufthansa cargo terminal at John F. Kennedy International Airport, a robbery retold in the 1990 hit film ‘Goodfellas,‘ starring Robert De Niro, Ray Liotta and Joe Pesci.
The prison term resulted from a road rage encounter between Asaro and a motorist who became ‘embroiled in a high-speed chase at the hands of an enraged Asaro,‘ the FBI said.
Asaro ed an associate with access to a local law enforcement database, identified the license plate information of the car and triggered a plan to burn the car in front of the motorist‘s home, said the head of New York‘s FBI office, William F. Sweeney Jr.
‘The anger that propelled Asaro to action is reminiscent of so many scripted Hollywood dramas, but unlike the fame and fortune of the big screen, Asaro‘s story ends on a different note,‘ Sweeney said in a release.
‘Today‘s sentence proves that living life in the fast lane is sure to be short lived.
Acting US Attorney Bridget M. Rohde said Asaro‘s sentence was ‘for a lifetime of violent criminal activity‘.
Before the announcement of the sentence, defense attorney Elizabeth Macedonio blamed the government for the long prison term, saying prosecutors were ‘asking you to sentence him for crimes he was acquitted of that occurred 50 or 60 years ago‘.
Assistant US Attorney Nicole Argentieri called Asaro a ‘one-man crime wave‘ and said he was a hero in his Queens neighborhood after he was acquitted at trial.
‘It‘s time to send a message, to break the cycle,‘ she said.
Interestingly enough, the mobster-turned-FBI informant portrayed by Liotta in the movie, Henry Hill, is said to have told an author that Asaro ‘had no involvement‘ in the Lufthansa heist.
According to the , Hill, who died in 2015, told author Daniel Simone that Asaro played no role in the crime.
Simone and Hill co-wrote the book The Lufthansa Heist, which was released in early 2015.
Nonetheless, Asaro remains the only individual connected to the mob who was ever formally charged in connection to the robbery.
The judge said she reviewed evidence from the trial she had presided over and cited proof Asaro had participated in a 1969 murder and had admitted his role and obtained jewelry from the armed robbery of more than $6 million in cash and jewelry from the Lufthansa terminal.
In 2015, Asaro‘s son, Jerome Asaro (above), was sentenced to 7.5 years in prison
‘He remains dangerous to the public,‘ she said.
The 1969 murder which the judge referred to was that of Paul Katz.
According to the , Katz was an associate of both Asaro and James ‘Jimmy the Gent‘ Burke.
Burke, of course, was the Irish mobster who was portrayed in the Scorsese classic by De Niro.
He was also the mastermind of the Lufthansa heist.
Federal prosecutors have long maintained that Burke and Asaro killed Katz because Burke suspected that he was secretly cooperating with the FBI.
Katz, who was strangled to death with a dog chain, was then buried underneath Burke‘s home in Ozone Park, Queens.
In the 1980s, Asaro learned that the police were looking into Katz‘s disappearance, according to the Post.
So he allegedly ordered his son, Jerome Asaro, to dig up Katz‘s remains and move them elsewhere.
In 2013, authorities managed to get wind of the plot and dug up underneath Burke‘s home.
There they found some of Katz‘s remains that Jerome Asaro sloppily failed to remove.
In March 2015, Jerome Asaro was sentenced to 7.5 years in federal prison.
Katz‘s daughter, Ilsa Katz, brought her father‘s cremated remains into the Brooklyn courtroom.
She dramatically pleaded for the judge to impose a stiff sentence on Asaro.
‘When they killed him they killed a family,‘ Ilsa Katz told Judge Allyne Ross.
‘They killed our future.‘
Vincent Asaro was found not guilty of killing Katz.