Thomas ‘Tommy’ DeSimone had been presumed dead since he disappeared on January 14, 1979. The Italian-American mobster was associated with the New York City’s Lucchese crime family that was alleged to have been part of the Air France Robbery and Lufthansa heist.
DeSimone was involved in truck hijackings, dealing and fencing stolen property, extortion, fraud, and murder. It has been assumed that Tommy DeSimone was buried in a suspected mafia graveyard on the Brooklyn-Queens border near Kennedy Airport. He was portrayed by Joe Pesci in the movie Goodfellas where he played Tommy Devito in 1990. Pesci won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for the role.
Tommy DeSimone’s early Life and family background
The mobster was born on 24 may, 1950 in Cambridge, Massachusetts, U.S. He had four siblings: Dolores, Phyllis, Robert, and Anthony. His father owned a printing shop but later lost it because of his compulsive gambling addiction. He grew up surrounded by mafia influences. His paternal grandfather, Rosario DeSimone was a boss of the Los Angeles crime family together with his uncle, Frank DeSimone. The latter was a criminal attorney before he turned into a mobster.
His grandfather became the boss of the crime family while his uncle replaced a deceased member which made him the second family member to assume control of the Los Angeles family.
His brothers were both associates of the Gambino crime family. In 1979, Anthony was murdered by another mobster, Thomas Agro. His sister Phyllis became the mistress of James Burke from the time she turned 16.
How Thomas DeSimone joined the Lucchese crime family
When he was 15 years old, DeSimone was introduced to Paul Vario, a caporegime in the Lucchese family in 1965. He began to follow the examples of his family members after he joined the mobster crew. He then met henry hill through Vario and they did quite a few criminal schemes together.
Desimone was known for carrying his gun in a paper bag. He was said to have committed his first murder at the age of 17 when he pulled out his gun and killed a total stranger on the street. He had impulsive violence which continued to show as he grew.
It was reported that DeSimone’s brother was an informant for the FBI and that increased the urge for DeSimone to prove to other gangsters and earn their respect.
The Air France robbery
In1967, an Air France employee Robert McMahon tipped off Burke, Hill, and DeSimone about an incoming delivery of between $400,000 and $700,000 in cash. McMahon told them it would be a perfect time for the robbery by midnight when the security guard would be on his meal break.
DeSimone and Hill went to Kennedy Airport with an empty suitcase. They entered the terminal and headed to the unsecured area without hitches and opened the door with a duplicate key. They found seven bags and loaded the money into the suitcase they brought. They took $420,000 without raising any alarm. The theft was done unnoticed until the following Monday when a Wells Fargo truck went to pick up the cash which was to be delivered to the French American banking corporation.
Tommy Desimone murdered William Bentvena, Michael ‘Spider’ Gianco, Dominick Remo Cersani, and others.
Desimone was a man who did not like to be insulted. On some occasions, he perceived jokes about him as insults. His issue with William Bentvena began when the latter joked to DeSimone about shining his shoes. DeSimone promised to kill him and after two weeks, he beat Bentvena to death.
Michael spider Gianco was serving as a bartender at a card game. DeSimone and Gianco had an argument which led to DeSimone shooting Gianco on his thigh. After some weeks, DeSimone joked to Gianco about his wounded leg and Gianco didn’t take so well so he told DeSimone to ‘go fuck himself’. The latter didn’t retaliate until his friend burke told him he was going soft. DeSimone got so angry that he shot Gianco three times on his chest.
DeSimone was described by Hill as a total psychopath who could do anything to feel better and respected. He carried out the murder of Dominick Remo Cersani on burke’s instructions. DeSimone strangled Cersani with a piano wire. On December 18, 1974, he murdered his ex-girlfriend’s brother Ronald Jerothe. DeSimone had beaten his ex-girlfriend up so Jerothe threatens to kill him for beating his sister so DeSimone went to his apartment and killed him.
The Lufthansa heist
On 11 December 1978, Burke chose DeSimone, McMahon, Angelo Sepe, Louis Cafora, Joe Manri, and Paolo Licastri as the robbers of the heist. They stole an estimated $5.875million from the Lufthansa Cargo terminal at Kennedy Airport with $5 million in cash and $875,000 in jewelry. That was the largest cash robbery ever committed on U.S soil at that time.
After the heist, DeSimone murdered Parnell Edward, the person who was supposed to dispose of the getaway van after the heist. Edward did not do as he was asked and DeSimone shot him five times in the head.
Mysteries on how Tommy DeSimone died and who killed him
His wife, Angela reported him missing on January 14, 1979. There are different theories about DeSimone’s alleged murder. It was even said that it was an inside job. According to mob informant Joseph Joe ‘Dogs’ Lannuzzi, Thomas Agro claimed he had murdered DeSimone and also his brother Anthony after he turned informant. On the other hand, Hill became an FBI informant and told them the Gambino family murdered DeSimone.
Another account told by Hill stated that Gotti killed Desimone himself in the presence of Agro. Bentvena was a personal friend of Gotti and wanted DeSimone to suffer for killing his friend. According to Sal Polisi, DeSimone was killed by Agro in the presence of Gotti. He added that Agro had tortured DeSimone slowly to death.
Tommy DeSimone’s unfortunate disappearance came at the time he was about to be made, which was what he had waited for all his life.