Nassau Police Sergeant Played Secret Role in Lufthansa Case

Courtesy of the Long Island Press

There are so many mob stories right now, I can't keep up. I have been Tweeting them from original sources fast and furious (which reminds me, RIP Paul Walker, 40 years of age).

The Lufthansa Heist is back in the news, with a new wrinkle. is running a story called "Lufthansa Heist: Nassau Cop Breaks Silence on Mob Case that Left 16 Dead, $6M Missing." Specifically, the report notes: "Despite the story being told again and again, few people knew the key role a Nassau County police sergeant played in helping to identify the perpetrators—until now. Through thorough police work and natural instincts, he turned a wannabe gangster into a witness whose testimony helped convict [Louis] Werner."

The cop in question, Bill Buckley, investigated the 1978 crime the old-fashioned way, using lots of shoe leather and ingenuity in the pre-computer age, but also some tried-and-true methods: leverage against a turncoat.

Werner died in 2007.

[Also worth noting, the article mentions the episode of grizzly killings that followed the crime, reporting that: "Frank Vincent, aka Billy Batts, was murdered twice. He was shot in a bar and put in the trunk of a car. When his killers got upstate, they saw he was still alive, so they killed him again...." Frank Vincent was the actor in Goodfellas who played Billy Batts; he himself wasn't murdered. And you can't murder someone twice. You just can't do it.]

Anyway, it was clear from the start who was behind the Lufthansa robbery. As the Press noted: "After the Lufthansa heist, the NYPD commissioner asked [Joe] Coffey, who had experience with both the mafia and homicides, to help investigate. Coffey knew immediately that it was James Burke, an associate of the Luchese family, because the crime was too sophisticated for John Gotti, part of the Gambino family, to pull off, Coffey says.

"Those were the two crime families who controlled Kennedy Airport. They both regularly robbed cargo trucks in the area and routinely bribed law enforcement to look the other way.

“'They had their tentacles everywhere,' Coffey says. “Their corruption went right to the White House.”

"But knowing and convicting are two very different things. At that time, 'going after criminals was like pissing in the ocean,' Coffey says. Even in jail they got special privileges." (The Lucheses and Gambinos shared the airport courtesy of the marriage between Carlo's son and Tommy's daughter.)

For specifics read the article, linked to above, on the Long Island Press's website.