Lufthansa Heist Arrests Tied to Martin Scorsese's 'GoodFellas' Inspiration

Lufthansa Heist Arrests Tied to Martin Scorsese's 'GoodFellas' Inspiration

A series of arrests connected to a decades-old heist brings Henry Hill, the mobster whose life inspired the film classic GoodFellas, back into the headlines.

Law enforcement sources told CBS News that five alleged members of the Bonanno organized crime family have been arrested Thursday, including one in connection with the 1978 Lufthansa heist at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York….

In 1978 thieves took $5 million in cash and nearly a million dollars’ worth of jewels from the vaults of Lufthansa at JFK. The cash and jewelry were never recovered.

Hill admitted his role in the heist and entered the witness protection program. Scorsese captured his criminal life in GoodFellas, a 1990 film considered one of the auteur’s best. Ray Liotta played Hill, a rising star in the mob underworld whose life unravels through the course of the film.

The Lufthansa heist gave Scorsese great cinematic fodder, but in real life the case flustered law enforcement officials and left a trail of bodies in its wake.

… the only person ever convicted in the heist was a Lufthansa cargo agent, described as the “inside man” in the plot. Other suspects were found slain, or disappeared; the man thought to be the mastermind of the robbery, James (Jimmy the Gent) Burke, died in 1996 in prison, where he was serving a life sentence for an unrelated murder….

By the time Mr. Hill began cooperating, the corpses of at least six people connected to the robbery or to its participants had been discovered.