Kindle Best-Seller "Mystery of Lufthansa" Excerpt

The short-format e-book The Mystery of the Lufthansa Airlines Heist:: A Wiseguy Reveals the Untold Story, available now for $3.99, reached number 2 on an Amazon Kindle paid bestseller list. It's still at number two as I write this... and 3 and 4 on other paid lists.
That's a damn fine showing -- and it beats our own Cosa Nostra News: The Cicale Files, Volume 1: Inside the Last Great Mafia Empire.

We asked Rob Sberna for his take: "I’m pleased but not surprised that the book is a hit. The Lufthansa robbery grabbed the public’s attention, for both its size and also its boldness. And because the crime—and the whereabouts of the missing loot—have remained unsolved for nearly four decades, it has become even more infamous.

"And now, for the first time, a mob insider has revealed the mystery of the missing money. We're seeing that fans of mob stories and true crime mysteries are interested in Dominick Cicale's account."

Rob Sberna, author

We offer here an exclusive excerpt heretofore only available via our newsletter.

In the book, Dominick Cicale, a former high-ranking member of the Bonanno crime family, discloses never-before-told details about the Lufthansa robbery, immortalized in"Goodfellas."

"In Rao’s Restaurant, 23 years after the Lufthansa Airlines robbery, Vinny Basciano and Bruno Indelicato trickled out details of the Lufthansa robbery and the whereabouts of the loot.

The two caporegimes seemed undecided whether they wanted to brag about their inside knowledge to Dominick or protect their secrets.

Dominick could only wait patiently as the story teased out. His thoughts drifted back to a night two years earlier, in the same restaurant, when he had first met Vinny. He was introduced by Bruno, his former prison buddy. During his stretch in federal lockup, Dominick had come to admire the loyalty, brotherhood and respect shared by the mob guys. When a made guy arrived in prison, they were taken care of by their associates on the outside. Not only were they sent money and clothing, but their wives were provided with financial assistance. That familial bond appealed to Dominick, who was raised by a free-spirited mother and had little contact with his father.

When Dominick left prison in 1999, he arranged for Bruno to set up a meeting with Vinny. The sit-down was approved and Dominick arrived with his godfather Peter Cicale, a Lucchese mob associate who had played a character named “Pete the Killer” in “Goodfellas.”

During their initial conversation, Vinny had peppered Dominick with questions, evaluating his ambition and character and getting a sense for his loyalty and discretion. Vinny was impressed by Dominick’s poise, his rugged physique, and his machismo. He quickly gained Vinny’s trust and approval. Over the past two years, Dominick had proven himself a good earner who could also be counted on to use muscle when necessary. Now, Vinny and Bruno were bringing Dominick into their confidence, a clear signal the men were grooming him for a greater role in family business.

Leaning closer to hear the two capos’ voices amidst the chatter of conversation and the jukebox in Rao’s, Dominick listened as Vinny explained that Jimmy Burke had asked a friend to rent a safety deposit box at a bank in Queens. Burke then placed between $2 million and $4 million in the box. He gave the keys to the box to his two daughters. Burke was known to have a close relationship with his girls, particularly Cathy.

Vinny told Dominick that the Burke sisters were aware that the safety deposit box contained a large amount of cash, but it’s not certain how much of the money they may have spent. Like their father, both women lived modestly and were hard workers. Robin drove a school bus in Queens and Cathy owned a Manhattan jewelry store, so perhaps the women were saving the money as a rainy day fund or a retirement nest egg.

Their brother, Jessie James Burke, had been educated in private schools and was an attorney on Long Island, specializing in real estate law. Their other brother, Frank, had been shot to death in Brooklyn in 1987 after an altercation in a bar.

If, in fact, Cathy and Robin were counting on their father’s stash to fund their retirement, they were facing a major disappointment. By 2001, the box had been emptied.

Dominick listened, with equal parts amusement and surprise, as Vinny explained that he and Bruno had convinced Robin Burke to turn over her key to the box.

“Bruno knew about the money through Cathy, his wife,” said Dominick, recounting Vinny’s story. “In those days, Cathy was basically in control of everything—the safety deposit box, her mother Mickey, and the rest of the family’s affairs. She would have never given Vinny and Bruno access to the box. Even though she was married to Bruno, she had an independent streak. She had her jewelry business, she traveled to Paris several times a year, and she even owned rental property that Bruno didn’t know about. Cathy was a smart girl. She acted tough, but she was very nice. I got to know her well through Bruno. She came to my daughter’s christening and I went to her daughter’s birthday parties.”

Cathy, perhaps more than her other siblings, was endowed with her father’s forceful personality.Henry Hill recalled a family trip that he, Jimmy Burke, and their daughters had once taken. They had stopped at a restaurant and Hill and Burke argued over the check, with each insisting on paying.

Cathy, at age 9 or so, pulled the check from her father’s hand and said, “Dad, let Henry pay the check. It will make him feel like a big man.”

Along with inheriting her father’s strong will, Cathy also was the heir to his real estate. She took possession of a house in Queens that came with a gruesome secret. In June 2013, the FBI, acting on a tip, dug around and in the home as they searched for traces of Paul Katz, an associate of Jimmy Burke’s who disappeared in 1969. Investigators discovered bones buried in the ground that were determined to be human.

DNA tests confirmed they were indeed a match for Katz, who once owned a warehouse that was used by mob figures to store stolen goods. When the warehouse was raided, Burke and Vincent Asaro suspected that Katz was an informant.

On the night of his death, Dec. 6, 1969, Katz left home after receiving a phone call. He told his wife that he was going to “meet the guys at the candy store.”

Katz’s wife, perhaps sensing danger, begged him not to leave. Katz assured her that he would be back soon. He walked out of the house, saying goodbye to his five children, who were watching television in the living room.

Authorities say that Burke beat and strangled Katz with a dog chain. He then buried Katz’s body under the basement floor of the Queens house that eventually became the property of Cathy Burke.

In late 1998, when Bruno first told Vinny about the safety deposit box containing the Lufthansa cash, Vinny came up with the idea to approach Robin with a scheme, while keeping it a secret from Cathy.

“Robin was not a dummy,” said Dominick. “But she was more trusting of Vinny and Bruno, who was her brother-in-law. So they told Robin that they needed to borrow money for a business deal they were arranging. They asked her to not tell Cathy about the loan, and they promised to return the money quickly with interest. They basically charmed Robin into giving
them the money.”

From 1999 to 2000, Vinny and Bruno made several trips to the safety deposit box, taking out $200,000 to $500,000 at a time.

A portion of the money did go towards a business deal, of sorts. Vinnie was eager to invest in an animated movie about ferrets, tentatively called “Ferretina.” The project was brought to Vinny’s attention by Frank Avianca, a producer of horror movies and the occasional porn flick.

Before entering the movie business, Avianca had a singing career under the name Frankie Sardo. In February 1959, he was part of the Winter Dance Party tour with Buddy Holly, Richie Valens and J.P. “The Big Bopper” Richardson. On February 2, after a concert in Clear Lake, Iowa, Sardo traveled to the next venue by bus with Waylon Jennings and Dion and the Belmonts, while the headliners took a plane. In a tragedy dubbed “The Day the Music Died,” the plane crashed in a cornfield, killing Holly, Valens and Richardson.

In preparation for producing “Ferretina,” Frank Avianca thoroughly researched ferrets, said Dominick. “He found out that ferrets were the second-most popular domesticated animal in the U.S. His statistics showed that nearly 20 million people owned ferrets, so the demographics were good. The movie was going to be a love story about ferrets that came from Europe to America. The ferrets get separated, go through some struggles, and then find each other again.”

Vinny gave Avianca upwards of $250,000 for the film project. Although legendary actress Chita Rivera reportedly agreed to star in the movie and Sony Pictures had committed $20 million towards marketing, “Ferretina” never went into production. (“It’s too bad it wasn’t made,” said Dominick. “I was promised a 10 percent cut from Vinny’s end.”)

And what happened to the rest of the Lufthansa money? Dominick was stunned to hear that Vinny had blown it all at casinos."

Purchase The Mystery of the Lufthansa Airlines Heist: A Wiseguy Reveals the Untold Story to learn the full story.....


  1. The book you said you liked more, Capeci believes it to be a business manual Dominick wrote. That report damages Jerry Capeci's reputation more than Cicale's.

  2. I want to know more about this Paul Katz guy. It's the tangential, submerged facts about this stuff that interests me most.....

  3. You mean the book "Little Al" right?

  4. Ask Stevie Newell. Slept on top of the grave for a year when he rented so room in that house.

  5. In other news, Joey Merlino just got released from prison yesterday, he won his appeal n got out a week earlier, he's now a free man with with no restrictions for the first time since 1999, he's living in Florida but you can believe he will b coming to philly a lot now that he's allowed, it's going to be very interesting here in Philly.

  6. I understand what you're saying. It doesn't apply to Dominick, at all. And I speak from personal experience.... It doesn't apply to a few other guys, who have earned my trust. It's a two-way street, see. But Dominick I go much farther back with and am much closer to him. I'd trust Dom with my life. I'd trust him with my ATM pin. Bank account info etc. Whatever Dom once was in organized crime, I do not believe that story about him is true at all. I have theories why it was written. It was out of maliciousness or something else I'm not going to go into here ..... it was a rare showing of self righteousness on Jerry's part. There's also more to the story; Jerry Capeci approached me while "researching" it, requesting a copy of Inside the Last Great Mafia Empire.. I understand some of the things he does, but I'd never do them myself.

  7. Did you read reports he's going to get indicted for the "dumbest Mafia hit ever?" Some are speculating that that's about to happen...

    Merlin was supposed to be out Cinco de Mayo, I thought.....

  8. Ed, They might indict him but it would b impossible to convict him, the only way that could happen is if Nicodemo who just got sentenced to 25 to life flipped, as of now he's holding up, he just got transferred to his destination spot so as of right now it looks like he's holding up. I believe the real problem Merlino is gonna have is with the Scarfo crew that's now out, none of those guys have any respect for him n feel that wherever is out here belongs to them, it's going to be something to keep an eye on.

  9. Sounds good, looking forward to seeing what else you guys put out.

  10. There must still be some action to muscle into in Philly for these guys - but why the old Scarfo regime would want to share any of that with Merlino is beyond me. He should stay put in Florida and continue his media act. But anyone so desperate to stay in the action in Philly (Joey) that he meets with his guys (John Chang) and gets jammed up on parole and sent back almost before he is free and clear anyways - I don't see him just leaving it all behind.

  11. This morning had a long, detailed conversation with a former caporegime in the Gambino crime family. To my knowledge he's only spoken once publicly before, not including trial.... provided me with an in-depth tutorial on the Gambino famiy/Gotti regime. Anyone who knows Junior, or if he's reading this, I'd like to include you in this story, despite all the nonsense on social media which I don't pay attention Despite what you might think John, I search for the truth in everything I write on this blog....

  12. sounds like Scars...nice

  13. If what you say is true and Phil and his brother want top spot somebodys gotta go and i don.t see Joey and his crew bowing to anyone Lou time will tell. Philly

  14. Hey Lou is Boy George Borgesi.s parole up in May of this year or next year that will be really interesting with the shit he.ll stir.

  15. Dc please tell me your kidding Vinny spent all that money gambling if true Jimmy rolling in his grave and Vinny snd the sister who gsve him the key should be shot. Philly

  16. Wassup, bro!! We gotta grab lunch! I'll try to bring a friend of mine. He's good people.....

  17. I got some free time coming up end if May maybe meet up some ehere off the turnpike some where

  18. You are 99% correct LOL he should stay in FL and run a restaurant and forget Philly and fly straight and out of the fucking media.

  19. Wow, that speaks volumes. You wouldn't give me your pin number? Lol, just kidding.

  20. Lol!!! Hearesay, that's how I roll!!! I trust you the same, pal, believe me!! I told ya, if you ever need me....!!

  21. I'm only kidding pal, You're as good as gold in my book and the same here, if you ever need me. AND I MEAN IT ! You got a friend in me bo!!!

  22. Politics make strange bedfellows my man😉


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