Gangster Vinny Asaro didn’t go down in a hail of bullets on a New York street.
Instead, the infamous capo of the Bonanno crime family died quietly in his home in Queens. He was 86.
But Asaro’s long life of crime was anything but quiet. He was targeted in the now infamous Lufthansa raid at JFK Airport in 1978, depicted in the legendary mob film Goodfellas.
In 2015, he was exposed but later jailed for an “unrelated traffic arson conviction,” the New York Post reported. He was released from prison three years ago because of his poor health.
Asaro was the last surviving member of the crew that pulled off a $6 million heist. The others got to the morgue by gunshots or, if they were lucky, by natural causes.
The career criminal was born into a life of crime. Both his father and uncle were members of the Bonanno crime family, so it was only fitting that Asaro followed and became a capo in the mid-1970s.
Police said Aasaro was part of the Lufthansa disaster, which was the brainchild of Lucchese criminal mastermind James “Jimmy the Gent” Burke. His character was portrayed by Robert DeNiro in Goodfellas.
For weeks, the robbery team plotted and plotted at Burke’s Queens pub Robert’s Lounge. The conspirators hoped to win $2 million, but instead they made three times as much.
The team struck on December 11, 1978 and took a king’s ransom in the form of cash and jewels.
“We loaded 50 boxes,” Gaspare Valenti, Aasaro and Stuhltaube’s cousin, testified at the 2015 trial. “There were linen bags with gold chains, boxes with watches, metal boxes with three drawers in them – and in every drawer there were diamonds and emeralds.
“And we loaded everything into the van. It was euphoria. We thought there was $2 million in cash and $6 million. Without the gold. Without the German money.”
In the 2015 trial, Asaro was acquitted of his role in the 1969 robbery and extermination of Mafia associate Paul Katz.
But in 2017, the old gangster sent thugs to set fire to the car of a driver who cut him off at a traffic light – in 2012.
“I made sure someone took care of it and it got done,” Asaro told the judge.
He pleaded guilty and was sentenced to eight years in prison until his early release in 2020 due to his health.
His funeral will take place on Friday in Queens. The exact cause of death is currently unknown.