(NEW YORK) — A reputed member of the Bonanno crime family who is charged in the 1978 Lufthansa heist wants a federal judge to remove an exhibit from the courthouse in Brooklyn where he is on trial.
The exhibit, titled “The Eastern District in the Headlines,” depicts a number of cases that have been argued and won by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York. The exhibit includes, among other things, movie posters for “Goodfellas” under a section called “EDNY in the Movies.” That film includes a fictional account of the crime — the more than $5 million theft at JFK Airport — with which Vincent Asaro is charged.
The exhibit also features news clippings of other organized crime cases in district history, including those of two expected witnesses for the prosecution in Asaro’s case.
Defense attorneys asked Judge Allyne Ross to remove the exhibit, writing in a letter it “seemingly endorses the Government’s current prosecution of an alleged member of the Bonanno family.”
“The resulting effect is that the Exhibit functions to bootstrap the prosecution of Mr. Asaro,” Elizabeth Macedonio and Diane Ferrone wrote in the letter.
They argued the usual admonition to jurors that they refrain from consuming media coverage about the case would be “rendered meaningless” if jurors view the exhibit in the courthouse.
Prosecutors are not expected to oppose the request to remove the exhibit.
Asaro, 79, has pleaded not guilty to charges of participating in the heist, the largest ever in U.S. history at the time at $5 million in cash and $1 million in jewels, according to UPI.
He also allegedly killed Paul Katz in 1969, according to authorities. Vincent Asaro and Lucchese crime family associate James “Jimmy the Gent” Burke allegedly strangled Katz with a dog chain because they believed he was cooperating with law enforcement and had his body buried in the basement of a house in Queens, New York, owned by Burke according to the FBI.
Burke was portrayed by Robert De Niro in “Goodfellas.”
Asaro has also pleaded not guilty to all racketeering charges, which include the murder of Katz. He is scheduled to go to trial in October.
Asaro’s son Jerome pleaded guilty in 2014 to digging up Katz’s remains and moving the evidence in the 1980s.
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