(Reuters) - Henry Hill, the mobster turned government informant portrayed in the book “Wiseguy” and later in the classic movie “Goodfellas,” has died after a long illness.
Hill, 69, died at a Los Angeles hospital on Tuesday from heart failure, his fiancé Lisa Schinelli Caserta told celebrity news website TMZ.com.
“Henry was one of the most laid back chill guys ever,” Caserta’s son Nick wrote on his Facebook page. “It breaks my heart knowing I will never get to talk to him again.”
Born on June 11, 1943 in Brooklyn, New York, Hill was an associate of New York City’s Lucchese crime family from the 1960s into the 1980s.
His crimes included dealing drugs and hijacking trucks, and he was involved in the 1967 Air France robbery in which $420,000 was stolen from the airline’s terminal at New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport.
Hill spent six years in prison for extortion, but continued his criminal activities while behind bars.
His most famous heist was in December 1978, months after he was released from prison, when he and others stole $5 million from Lufthansa Airlines at JFK airport.
Fearing for his life afterwards when his associates were killed, Hill became an informant for the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
Hill, his wife Karen, and their children Gregg and Gina entered the government’s witness protection program, and he testified against his former crime bosses.
He and his wife were expelled from the program in the early 1990s. Hill went back to living under his own name. The couple divorced in 1989.
Hill’s story was told in Nicholas Pileggi’s 1986 book “Wiseguys,” which was adapted by Martin Scorsese in the 1990 film “Goodfellas,” starring actor Ray Liotta as Hill opposite Robert De Niro as Hill’s associate Jimmy Burke.
Reporting by Barbara Goldberg and Piya Sinha-Roy; Editing by Eric Beech