QUEENS — The FBI began digging for a body Monday in the former Queens home of notorious mob power James “Jimmy The Gent” Burke, who was famously portrayed by Robert De Niro in the movie "Goodfellas," sources told DNAinfo New York.
FBI Evidence Collection specialists and agents from the Organized Crime Division descended into the basement of Burke’s family home at 81-48 102 Rd. in South Ozone Park about 8 a.m. armed with jackhammers and sledge hammers.
Sources said the feds recently obtained information from a new cooperating informant who told them he believed a hood who disappeared decades ago was buried in Burke’s basement or backyard.
The sources say the dig is not related to the fabled 1978 Lufthansa Heist, where Burke, portrayed as Jimmy Conway by De Niro in "Goodfellas," and his fellow wiseguys pulled off an $8 million robbery at JFK, which at the time was the largest robbery in history and was featured in the film.
Many of the suspects eventually were murdered.
Only the body of Burke's closest friend, Thomas DeSimone, who was played by actor Joe Pesci, has never been found, but sources say they are not looking for his remains at Burke’s home.
Burke, who was never able to be fully inducted into la cosa nostra because he was not 100 percent Italian, died in prison in 1996, after he was convicted of being involved in a Boston College basketball point-shaving scandal and for a mob murder in Brooklyn.
The house is still in Burke's family. His widow continued to live there after his death for an undetermined amount of time.
The house is in the name of one of Burke’s daughters, Cathy, who is married to Bruno Indelicato, the imprisoned son of slain Bonanno capo, Sonny “Sonny Red” Indelicato, sources say and records show.
"I have no idea," said a woman who answered the phone at Burke's daughter's home. She also said she didn't know the current tenants of the home and declined to comment further.
The driveway of the Ozone Park home was covered with a blue tent with tarps extending to the street Monday afternoon as agents walked in and out of the blocked area.
A neighbor named Jim, 73, who declined to give his last name, said he has lived on the block for more than 40 years, but didn't know Burke.
Jim returned home early in the afternoon to see FBI gear and tarps set up next door.
"I just came down the block and there's a circus going on," he said.
Neighbors living next door say an elderly couple lives in the house with their daughter.
In the seminal 1990 movie directed by Martin Scorcese, Burke's home plays a key role in his crew's plans to steal a roomful of cash and jewels from nearby JFK airport.
The flick's mob characters were made famous by the stellar cast of Hollywood stars, which also included Ray Liotta, Lorraine Bracco and Samuel Jackson.
The movie was based on the 1990 book by author Nick Pileggi, who detailed the exploits of mob turncoat Henry Hill and a Luchese Crime Family crew run by Paul Vario, who was played by actor Paul Sorvino.
In the aftermath of the real heist, Burke executed many of the other conspirators in an effort to shield himself from the law. But he was eventually convicted by the feds in the college point-shaving scandal that allowed the Mob to win millions on the rigged games.
He then was sent to state prison, where he eventually died, in connection with the Brooklyn mob-related killing of Richard Eaton. Eaton was not involved in the Lufthansa heist, but was tortured and murdered by Burke after skimming $250,000 from Burke's operation.
His body was discovered hogtied and hanging in a meat freezer truck.