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Thursday, 14 June 2012

Sleeping with the Fishes: A Goodfella dies

Mobster turned supergrass, Henry Hill, the subject of the movie Goodfellas may have escaped the mob by going into witness protection but he finally cashed in his chips this week and died at the age of 69.

Goodfellas followed Hill's journey from errand boy for members of the mafia to his immersion in a world of crime that was lucrative but left him at the mercy of forces that he couldn't control, watched heavily by the police and unable to gain the full protection of a mafia clan due to his Irish roots.

Ray Liotta starred as Hill alongside Joe Pesci and Robert De Niro in the film by Martin Scorsese. Widely regarded as one of the finest on screen depictions of the mafia on screen, the story contained shockingly violent scenes, which Hill feared could become reality if the mafia caught up with him.
Shown in the movie was the pinnacle of Hill's criminal career, the infamous Lufthansa heist which scooped a then record $5m. However it was this that success that led to Hill and his associate's downfall, as one time friend Jimmy Burke began killing all those involved in the heist. The bodies of 12 suspects were found.

Ironically Burke's zeal made Hill, who was frightened of being next, turn to the police, and after initially refusing to cooperate despite the playing of wiretaps which showed mobsters planning to kill him, Hill's testimony led to 50 convictions.

Hill didn't clean up his act - in 1987 he was busted on a drug charge and was eventually booted out of witness protection in the early '90s.

Hill and his wife divorced in 1989 after 25 years of marriage.

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