NEW YORK (AP) — An admitted mobster involved in the legendary heist retold in the film "Goodfellas" told a jury on Wednesday he came forward three decades later to sign up to become a paid government informant because a gambling problem left him destitute.
Testifying in a case accusing his gangster cousin of helping plan the $6 million Lufthansa robbery at Kennedy International Airport, Gaspare Valenti said he also was fed up with the Mafia.
"I was just tired of that life," Valenti, 68, said at the trial in federal court in Brooklyn. "I was having nightmares about things I had experienced."
In exchange for the government covering his living expenses, Valenti agreed to wear a wire to record conversations with Vincent Asaro, a former captain in the Bonanno organized crime family who was the witness' mob boss. Prosecutors say the 80-year-old Asaro made statements implicating himself for the first time in one of the biggest armed robberies in U.S. history.
Valenti testified that his gambling habit put him in such deep debt that it estranged him from Asaro. After they were reunited in 2008, Asaro reminded Valenti that he had always tried to shield Valenti from law enforcement, according to one tape heard by jurors.
"All this time you were with me, and I never got you pinched," Asaro said.
In opening statements, a defense attorney accused Valenti and other turncoat Bonanno family members of framing Asaro to save themselves from long prison terms. Valenti is to return to the witness stand Thursday.