Feds make find at former home of NY mobster

Associated Press
A woman ducks under crime scene tape in front of a New York city house once occupied by a famous gangster, Tuesday, June 18, 2013, in New York. The work started Monday at the home of James Burke, a Lucchese crime family associate known as "Jimmy the Gent." He was the inspiration for Robert De Niro's character in the 1990 Martin Scorsese movie "Goodfellas." Burke died behind bars in 1996, two decades after authorities say he masterminded a nearly $6 million robbery at New York's Kennedy Airport, one of the largest cash thefts in American history. The Queens house is still owned by the Burke family, but others now live there. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)
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A woman ducks under crime scene tape in front of a New York city house once occupied by a famous gangster, Tuesday, June 18, 2013, in New York. The work started Monday at the home of James Burke, a Lucchese crime family associate known as "Jimmy the Gent." He was the inspiration for Robert De Niro's character in the 1990 Martin Scorsese movie "Goodfellas." Burke died behind bars in 1996, two decades after authorities say he masterminded a nearly $6 million robbery at New York's Kennedy Airport, one of the largest cash thefts in American history. The Queens house is still owned by the Burke family, but others now live there. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)

NEW YORK (AP) — An FBI excavation has turned up possible human remains at a home once occupied by a famed gangster who inspired Robert De Niro's character in the movie "Goodfellas," authorities said Wednesday.

Federal agents armed with jackhammers and shovels had started digging Monday as part of an undisclosed investigation. An FBI spokesman confirmed Wednesday that agents found organic material that they want to test, but he declined to comment further.

Gangster James Burke, known as Jimmy the Gent, had lived at the Queens home while an associate in the Lucchese crime family. According to mob lore, he orchestrated a nearly $6 million robbery, one of the largest cash heists in American history, at John F. Kennedy International Airport in 1978.

This week, neighbors watched as a canopy was erected over the driveway and another one over the backyard. Three FBI Evidence Response Team trucks were parked in front, with about a dozen agents coming and going, some shoveling dirt into buckets.

The Burke family still owns the home, now rented to an elderly couple.

While living there, Burke also owned Robert's Lounge, a saloon that a fellow Lucchese associate, the late Henry Hill, described as Burke's private cemetery. In June 1980, a human leg bone and a portion of a human shoulder bone were excavated from the saloon's basement.

Burke was never prosecuted for the airport heist or for the bloodletting that followed: Several of the participants were killed. He died behind bars in 1996, at age 64, while serving time in a separate case.

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