June 14, 2012 09:05:31 GMT
The former member of the famous Lucchese crime family died of complications from longtime heart problems related to smoking.
Henry Hill, a former gang member who inspired Martin Scorsese's 1990 movie "GoodFellas", has died at the age of 69. The ex-mobster passed away at West Hills Hospital in West Hills due to complications from longtime heart problems related to smoking.
Hill was a one-time member of the Lucchese crime family in New York and was involved in lots of crimes including participating in the largest single cash robbery in U.S. history. He was a key role in the 1978 heist of $5.8 million from the Lufthansa air cargo terminal at John F. Kennedy International Airport.
He then became an FBI informant and dragged two prominent gangsters, Jimmy "The Gent" Burke and Paul Vario, to jail because he feared for his life when the thieves turned on each other to keep the profits for themselves. He later signed an agreement with a Department of Justice task force and entered the witness protection program.
Hill, living under a variety of assumed names, was moved to Omaha along with his family before being relocated to various different locations across the country. In 1987, he was booted from the program after being found guilty of burglary, assault and three DWIs.
The story of his life was chronicled in a 1986 bestselling book "Wiseguy: Life in a Mafia Family" written by journalist Nicholas Pileggi. The book was adapted by Scorsese into the big screen with Ray Liotta as Hill, Paul Sorvino as Vario and Robert De Niro as Jimmy Conway (a character inspired by Burke).
The movie performed well at the box office, and was lauded by critics. It was nominated for six Academy Awards, and won one for Joe Pesci in the Best Actor in a Supporting Role category. He played Tommy DeVito, a fictional character inspired by the Lucchese's associate Thomas DeSimone.