Accused mob boss Vincent Asaro goes on trial

Story highlights

  • Asaro is accused of a string of crimes, including the famed 1978 Lufthansa heist at JFK International Airport
  • His attorneys say prosecutors are relying on criminals for a lot of their argument
  • Both sides made opening statements on Monday on a federal court in Brooklyn
  • The Lufthansa theft was part of the story in the movie "Goodfellas"

New York (CNN)In their opening statement, prosecutors referred to a code of silence they say Vincent Asaro lives by.

That code will undoubtedly be tested as the trial for the alleged mob boss got under way Monday in federal court in Brooklyn.
Asaro, 80, is accused in connection with a string of crimes, including murder, racketeering and the famed 1978 Lufthansa heist at JFK International Airport.
    In that robbery, a band of robbers stole about $5 million in cash and nearly $1 million in jewels from an airline cargo building in the largest cash robbery in the nation's history at the time.
    The theft was part of the story in Martin Scorsese's 1990 "Goodfellas" film about organized crime in New York.
    An attorney for Asaro, Gerald McMahon, has joked that the indictment of his client, and others, would give Scorsese the basis for a sequel to "Goodfellas."
    During its opening statement Monday, the defense stressed the burden of proof is on the government. It said prosecutors are relying on criminals for a lot of their argument -- people who have an incentive to cooperate.
    Asaro appeared in court wearing glasses and a light gray sweater over a white dress shirt and slacks. At points, he appeared to wave or blow kisses to supporters in the courtroom.
    Of Asaro's alleged involvement in the fabled heist, McMahon has said: "Innocence. Pure, actual innocence. He didn't do it, had nothing to do with it. Pretty much all the people that did it got murdered ... So, the fact that my client didn't get murdered would suggest that he didn't have anything to do with it, so I'll start right there."