New York Mobster Demands Removal of ‘Goodfellas’ Poster from Exhibition

A member of the Bonanno crime family is charged with the 1978 Lufthansa heist depicted in the film.

Ray Liotta, Robert De Niro, Paul Sorvino, and Joe Pesci pose for a publicity portrait for Goodfellas (1990). Photo: Warner Brothers/Getty Images.
Ray Liotta, Robert De Niro, Paul Sorvino, and Joe Pesci pose for a publicity portrait for Goodfellas (1990). Photo: Warner Brothers/Getty Images.

Vincent Asaro, an alleged member of the legendary Bonanno crime family, is protesting the inclusion of a Goodfellas poster in an exhibition at Brooklyn’s federal courthouse celebrating the building’s 150th anniversary, according to the Guardian.

Asaro is currently on trial for his suspected role in the 1978 Lufthansa heist. The theft of $5 million in cash and $1 million in jewels from New York’s JFK Airport was the biggest robbery in US history at the time, and was featured in the Academy Award-winning film.

The courthouse exhibition is titled “The Eastern District in the Headlines,” and covers some of the prominent cases that have been tried by the US Attorney’s Office over the years. The poster for Martin Scorsese’s Goodfellas is included in a section called “EDNY in the Movies” along with posters for American Hustle, Dog Day Afternoon, and The Wolf of Wall Street, among other films.

Vincent Asaro is escorted by FBI agents. Photo: Bryan Smith, courtesy Zuma Press/Corbis.

Vincent Asaro is escorted by FBI agents. Photo: Bryan Smith, courtesy Zuma Press/Corbis.

Also on view are a number of newspaper clippings about local cases of organized crime, two of which feature witnesses the prosecution will likely use in the case against 79-year-old Asaro.

The accused’s lawyers, Elizabeth Macedonio and Diane Ferrone, are calling for the poster’s removal. It “seemingly endorses the Government’s current prosecution of an alleged member of the Bonanno family,” they wrote in a letter to Judge Allyne Ross, according to ABC News.

The <em>Goodfellas</em> poster on display at the U.S. District Courthouse in Brooklyn. Photo: Rick Kopstein, courtesy the <em>New York Law Journal</em>, and Warner Brothers.

The Goodfellas poster on display at the U.S. District Courthouse in Brooklyn.
Photo: Rick Kopstein, courtesy the New York Law Journal, and Warner Brothers.

Macedonio and Ferrone pointed out that jurors are asked to avoid media coverage about the cases they serve on, and that the presence of the poster in the courthouse directly contradicts this suggestion. “The resulting effect is that the Exhibit functions to bootstrap the prosecution of Mr. Asaro,” they added.

Asaro has pleaded “not guilty” on federal racketeering charges connected to the Lufthansa heist. He was reportedly named as a Capo, a term for a high-ranking mafia member, by Henry Hill, a former Lucchese crime family associate turned informant.

Authorities also have charged Asaro for the murder of Paul Katz in 1969. He was reportedly recorded telling a witness wearing a wire that he James “Jimmy the Gent” Burke (played by Robert De Niro in Goodfellas) “had killed Katz with a dog chain because they believed he was a ‘rat,'” according to the Guardian, and then Asaro buried him in a basement. Last year, Asaro’s son Jerome plead guilty to moving Katz’s remains.

The trial, which includes the charges related to Katz, is slated to begin in October.


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