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Goodfellas Lufthansa heist gangster goes on trial

Published 19/10/2015

James Burke is believed to have masterminded and executed the 1978 Lufthansa heist. (AP)
James Burke is believed to have masterminded and executed the 1978 Lufthansa heist. (AP)

An ageing gangster is being tried on charges he was in on a legendary mob heist recounted in the film Goodfellas.

In opening statements, a prosecutor told federal jurors in New York City that the 6 million US dollar Lufthansa hold-up in 1978 was "the score of all scores" for Vincent Asaro and other mobsters.

Asaro's lawyer countered by accusing the government of building its case on the testimony of shady turncoat gangsters.

Prosecutors say the 80-year-old Asaro was a member of the Bonanno crime family for decades.

Along with the Lufthansa heist, they say he and the late mobster James Burke killed a truck driver in 1969 after becoming convinced he was an informant.

Robert De Niro played a character based on Burke in the 1990 Martin Scorsese movie.

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