The grandson of one of New York’s most infamous mobsters has been arrested alongside the man whose exploits inspired the Martin Scorsese film Goodfellas, in connection with a mafia “hit” which has captivated New York tabloids.
Vincent Asaro, 82, was arrested on Wednesday, along with 23-year-old John Gotti, whose namesake grandfather, nicknamed the “Teflon Don” for his ability to avoid capture, headed up the Gambino crime family.
Asaro was acquitted in November 2015 of being behind the infamous $6 million Lufthansa heist of 1978 at New York’s Kennedy airport, which inspired Scorsese’s 1990 film starring Robert de Niro, Joe Pesci and Ray Liotta. He was a “capo” in the city’s Bonanno clan.
The pair were charged with arson, stemming from an encounter five years ago.
Asaro was caught up in a road rage incident in Brooklyn, and wanted the man’s car firebombed. He allegedly then turned to Gotti for help.
Gotti is also charged in connection with a bank robbery.
Outside court, Asaro’s lawyer said the charges were baseless.
“We have encountered unfounded charges brought by the United States attorney's office before, and we're confident that we'll be able to refute these unfounded charges as well," said Elizabeth Macedonio.
Gotti’s lawyer said his client was attempting to turn his life around.
He was sentenced to eight years in prison earlier this month after pleading guilty to selling drugs in his Queens neighbourhood, and was preparing to head to prison in the case.
Like his grandfather – who was finally captured in 1992, and died in prison 10 years later - Gotti was brought down by covert listening devices. In recorded conversations, Gotti said he sold more than 4,200 pills every month, netting about $100,000 a month in drug sales, and once calculated that his trafficking business generated roughly $1.6 million annually.
"He pleaded guilty to the state case, he turned his life around, he took full responsibility, he beat his drug habit," said Gerard Marrone. "He's doing excellent and now this is something else he has to deal with."