Statute of Limitations (Goodfellas/Lufthansa Heist)

Here is one of many articles describing the criminal charges that have been laid again various members of the Bonanno crime family including some charges with respect to the 1978 ‘Lufthansa Heist’ featured in the best movie ever made, Goodfellas.

The charges dating back to “Lufthansa” include (according to the Reuters article linked above) “robbery, conspiracy and other crimes tied to the 1978 heist”.

And, here is a summary of the statutes of limitations in the several states. I note that in New York, where the charges were made, the maximum time is stated to be five years (except for murder for which there is no limit).

What am I missing here? Other than for murder, how can anyone be charged for a crime(s) that occurred over 35 years ago?


They’re being charged with federal crimes, so New York’s statute of limitations does not apply. You’d have to dig through the indictment to find out what the actual charges are and then lookup the limitations for those in the US Code.

Ah, okay.

So, here’s a listing of Federal Statutes of Limitations (p.18 on) (pdf). It looks to me that unless you’re talking some form of homicide, terrorism, various child sex crimes, (and even “killing of a poultry inspector”), all of which have no limitation, the max is 20 years. So, I’m still confused.

The defendants were charged with a racketeering conspiracy, and criminal RICO violations are subject to the five-year federal criminal statute of limitations at 18 USC sec. 3282. Since RICO is a conspiracy statute, however, the limitation period begins to run from the time of the last act committed in furtherance of the conspiracy. According to the indictment, that act was in 2013, which is of course well within the five-year period. The earlier acts stretching back to 1969, including the Lufthansa robbery, are carried along because they were all part of the same ongoing criminal enterprise.

Thanks, I knew there was an explanation (duh) and your explanation is terrific - succinct and clear. Much obliged!