Anonymous Jury Sought for "Lufthansa" Bonanno Trial

Tommy D, Bonanno acting boss.
Prosecutors are asking the judge for an anonymous and partially sequestered jury for the trial involving reputed Bonanno acting boss Tommy "Tommy D" DiFiore, capo Vincent Asaro and other crime family members.

This is revealed in a court filing made last month by Loretta E. Lynch, the United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York.

Specifically, the prosecutors requested that jurors' names, addresses and employment information not be revealed to the defendants or their attorneys. Also, it was requested that each juror be escorted by U.S. Marshals to and from court each day, and "at all times during recess."

Among the reasons cited for the added security (aside from the fact that the defendants are members of the Mafia charged with serious criminal activity): both Tommy D and Vinny Asaro are alleged to be high-ranking members of the Bonanno crime family.

Also on trial are alleged Bonanno capo Jerome Asaro (capo), Jack Bonventre (acting capo) and John Ragano, soldier.

Quoted in the filings are the now-infamous remarks made by acting boss Anthony "Tony Green" Urso, who spoke of killing the children of cooperating witnesses:
Bonanno capo Vinny Asaro

"Why should the rats' kids be happy, where my kids or your kids should suffer because I'm away for life? If you take one kid, I hate to say it, and do what you gotta do, they'll f---ing think twice."

Noted as well: "Even against the backdrop of the Bonanno's family's lengthy history of obstructing justice [much of which is detailed in the filing], defendants V. Asaro and J. Asaro have demonstrated a willingness and capacity to engage in obstructive behavior, including murder."

The case will involve testimony from four turncoats: Peter "Bud" Zuccaro, who testified against Charles Carneglia (who had been Zuccaro's best man) and John Gotti Jr in Manhattan; former family boss Joe Massino; Salvatore Vitale, Massino's onetime right-hand man; and a relative of the Asaros, Gaspare (Gary) Valenti, who wore a wire and recorded numerous incriminating discussions.

The defendants were rounded up in January of this year, with nearly all newspapers touting the case's link to the infamous Lufthansa heist at John F. Kennedy Airport in 1978. Only Vinny Asaro is charged with crimes related to that heist, however.

Asaro's other alleged crimes include ordering the early-1980s firebombing of a mobbed-up bar on Rockaway Boulevard in Ozone Park.

The indictment also claims that Asaro muscled his way into the pornography business, and that he also robbed $1.25 million worth of gold salts from FedEx (gold salts are apparently used as an ingredient in medicinal treatments).

Only the Asaros have murder-related charges; both face potential life sentences.

The others face charges for the typical gangster crimes of racketeering, extortion, arson, robbery and gambling.

The Goodfellas Effect
Lufthansa was so widely included in initial headlines that the "unsolved" caper that informed a pivotal moment in the Martin Scorsese film "Goodfellas" seemed to dwarf the news that the Feds had also nabbed the crime family's acting boss, “Tommy D," who was supposedly keeping the seat warm for Michael Mancuso.

Mobster Vincent Asaro, 72, has fallen in and out of favor with the Bonanno hierarchy over the years, primarily due to greed.

Heretofore, only a Lufthansa cargo agent described as the “inside man” in the robbery had been prosecuted for the Lufthansa heist.

Louis Werner, $20,000 in the hole due to gambling debts, used his knowledge of the incoming cash and jewelry to formulate an idea for a robbery that he then passed off to his bookmaker, Marty Krugman, who then told Luchese associate Henry Hill. The rest, as they say, is history.

Werner was indicted in March 1979, within four months of the robbery. He was lucky. Most of the men who directly committed the job are dead or are presumed dead.

Vincent Asaro has the distinction of being the first made member of organized crime to ever be charged in the heist, which netted about $6 million ($21.4 million, when adjusted for inflation.)

Asaro is known to have been the Bonanno capo in charge of the airport at the time of the robbery. Other court papers say he took part in “several planning meetings” with James “Jimmy the Gent” Burke (July 5, 1931 – April 13, 1996), an Irish-American gangster with ties to the Luchese family through his association with Lucchese capo Paul Vario.

Asaro and Burke also were business partners in Robert's Lounge, according to court papers. The late former Luchese associate Henry Hill described it as Burke's private cemetery.

Prosecutors believe that Asaro was paid off following the Lufthansa heist with some stolen jewelry; Asaro then reportedly "kicked up" a share to a superior in the Bonanno crime family.

Asaro allegedly admitted his involvement in the Lufthansa to ex-Bonanno boss Joseph Massino, who later became America’s highest-ranking Mafia turncoat and is a witness against Asaro, sources said.

Asaro as recently as 2011 was recorded by another informant complaining about the amount he was given from the historic heist.

“We never got our right money, what we were supposed to get, we got fucked all around. Got fucked around. That ­fucking Jimmy [Burke] kept everything,” Asaro griped in 2011, according to a recording made by a mob informant.


  1. Well done hats off.....Love the info....keep up the good work

  2. Great myth-busting article Ed

  3. Annonymous juries are so unconstitutional. They should be judged by their individual crimes and not be indicted for others crimes and put it all together in one big indictment. I'm not apologizing for these guys but once we loose one liberty, we start to loose more of them.

  4. Great movie.Interesting facts,they will never retrieve the MONEY,these Mob guys are at best on the out side,all the real guys are DEAD.

  5. Some of the others have tried to separate themselves from the higher ups, but the judge denied the even the lower ranks will be judged for the other crimes

  6. Whoever that judge is should be kicked off the bench.

  7. First MOTION to Sever Defendant John Ragano by John Ragano. (Attachments: # 1 Memorandum in Support) (Hochbaum, Charles) (Entered: 03/05/2014)

    ORDER denying 53 Motion to Sever Defendant as to John Ragano (5).

    See attached order. Ordered by Judge Allyne R. Ross on 4/7/2014. (Frey, Laurie) (Entered: 04/07/2014)

  8. I hear this all the time. Let me help clarify a bit: If offenses are part of the same even and evidence of one event would be admissible in the trial of the others, they will “join” the offences (Joinder of Offenses); the same thing with Defendants. It the defendants of crimes are in any way connected to common events, they will “join” the Defendants (Joinder of Defendants).

    Many, as in the case of a lot of these mobsters and their attorneys, have and continue to ask courts to grant severance of offenses and defendants. The recent State case against the Bonanno crime family and their former Underboss, Nicholas Santora is another example. Current Acting Boss of the Bonanno crime family, Michael Mancuso tried and failed in his 2007 trial to obtain severance from Anthony Aiello, Anthony Indelicato and Anthony Donato
    a/k/a “the 3 Anthonys” and consequently, was sentenced to 15 yrs. He’s currently incarcerated in South Carolina’s Edgefield Prison.

  9. I understand the law and the reasoning behind it, but I still think it will be hard for the jury to disdain from judging the others for crimes as a whole instead of the individuals crimes themselves.

  10. " will be hard for the jury to disdain from judging the others..." Disdain? Do you mean "refrain"? Just curious.

  11. disdain to look upon or treat with contempt, despise or scorn

  12. Those rulings are a perversion of our founding fathers vision and you know it. The founders envisioned everybody as individuals not a "collective". "Joinder of offenses" is the equivalent of saying your guilty by association and were not part of the actual crime committed Itself.

  13. Umm, I know what the word means. It simply didn't make sense, to me, the way you used it.

  14. Actually, you're speaking of Joinder of Defendants...but even there, the presumption that it's a "perversion or our founding fathers vision" is, well...your opinion. But aside from that, It's not the "equivalent of...guilty by association" as mentioned above. The rule is that the Defendants are alleged to have participated in the same events.

  15. revised it LOL

  16. Ronen the reason for denial of severance...motion is denied at this time. Under Rule 14, a district
    court may sever a defendant’s trial if the prospect of a joint trial “appears to prejudice a defendant.” The decision whether to grant a severance is“committed to the sound discretion of the trial judge.” United States v.Spinelli, 352 F.3d 48, 54 (2d Cir. 2003) (quoting United States v. Blount, 291 F.3d201, 209 (2d Cir. 2002)). It is appropriate where “there is a serious risk that a joint trial would compromise a specific trial right of one of the defendants,or prevent the jury from making a reliable judgment about guilt or innocence.”
    United States v. Rittweger, 524 F.3d 171, 179 (2d Cir. 2008) (quoting Zafiro v.United States, 506 U.S. 534, 539 (1993)). The determination whether prejudiceexists is a highly fact-specific enquiry, and the defendant bears an “extremely
    difficult burden” to show prejudice sufficient to entitle him to severance.United States v. Barret, 824 F. Supp. 2d 419, 433 (E.D.N.Y. 2011). Here, Ragano argues that a joint trial with his codefendants will result in severe“spillover prejudice” (1) because the time necessary to prepare for Count One
    is substantially more significant than the time that would be required to prepare for trial solely on the charges against him and (2) because the additional evidence that is relevant only to Count One but that would be introduced in a joint trial will impact the jury’s assessment of his guilt. Ragano argues that, even if properly instructed, would not be able to segregate
    the evidence it is or is not allowed to consider with respect to the charges against him. Ragano has failed to meet
    the heavy burden required to show such prejudice as to dictate in favor of severance. First, the indictment is not so complex that a jury will be unable to separately weigh the evidence against each individual defendant on each
    charge. The case Case 1:14-cr-00026-ARR Document 62 Filed 04/07/14 Page 2 of 3 PageID #: 4323 involves only four defendants, and Ragano is charged in three of the four counts in the indictment. Second, although Ragano is not
    charged in the Count One racketeering conspiracy involving thirteen predicate acts, there is significant overlap in the evidence that will be offered on that charge and the charges against Ragano. The government has indicated that it
    intends to introduce much of the same evidence to prove the existence of an enterprise for both Count One and Count Four. Moreover, Racketeering Act 13 related to the First Count is based on the same underlying facts as Counts Two
    through Four, and therefore will involve the same evidence. It also appears that much of the evidence to be introduced against Ragano’s codefendants on Count One would also be admissible against him as evidence of his involvement in the Bonanno crime family and the conspiracies with which
    he is charged. With proper instructions to consider the evidence separately against each defendant, any risk of “spillover prejudice” may be eliminated. Third, there is no indication that severance would serve the ends of judicial
    efficiency and economy, as separate trials would require repetition of witness testimony and other evidence. Separate
    trials would require duplicative efforts by the prosecution, judge and witnesses. Accordingly, at this time, severance of Ragano is not justified under Rule 14, and his motion is denied.

  17. LOL What'd you do, copy/paste the entire US v. Aiken opinion? Only kiddin' ya...

  18. Every time these trash women open there mouths they embarass young and old Italian women and them selves The show and these trash ladys have run its course ohilly

  19. awesome stuff Ed - William

  20. Hey there Ed. I'm relatively tech naive and I'm still figuring out this Disqus thing so I may be posting random things after random articles. I will figure it out. I'm currently reading Mob Killer about Charles Carneglia. The other day I purchased a used hardback copy of Mafia Son which I am really looking forward to. I am very intrigued by Greg Scarpa. Not sure about Stallone though. Anyways, if anybody has any input on my current reads or recommendations for future reads please let me know.

  21. Sure do! Go to link!


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