A Brooklyn jury has found 80-year-old mobster Vincent Asaro not guilty on all counts following a three-week federal trial, freeing him from the prospect of spending the rest of his life in prison. Eighty-year-old Asaro — who, like his father and grandfather, was a member of the Bonanno crime family — had been accused of extortion, arson, robbery, using a dog chain to strangle a man to death, and, most notably, organizing the 1978 Lufthansa heist, which netted more than $6 million in cash and jewelry and inspired Goodfellas. (Nobody played him in the movie.) The Wall Street Journal reports that Asaro “pumped his fist and slapped the table” upon hearing the verdict.
From NBC New York:
Asaro…”was born into [the mafia] life and he fully embraced it,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Alicyn Cooley said in closing arguments. His devotion to the Bonannos “was as permanent as the ‘death before dishonor’ tattoo on his arm,” she added.
The defense accused prosecutors of relying on shady paid cooperators, including Asaro’s cousin Gaspare Valenti. They argued that the witnesses had incentive to frame Asaro to escape lengthy prison terms of their own.
“These are despicable people,” defense lawyer Elizabeth Macedonio said in her closing. “They are accomplished liars.”
On his way out of the courthouse, Asaro told reporters that he “feels great.” “I’m going to go home, and my daughter’s going to cook me a meal … something other than a baloney sandwich,” he said. Asaro also encouraged them to “Tell Gaspare I hope he’s enjoying his $3,000 a month,” a reference to what the FBI paid Valenti to inform on him.