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14 Jun 2012

Henry Hill, a former mobster-turned-FBI informant whose life became the basis for Martin Scorsese's Goodfellas, has died in Los Angeles aged 69.

His partner and manager, Lisa Caserta, did not give a specific cause but added years of heavy smoking combined with complications from a recent heart attack led to his death.

"He had been sick for a long time, his heart gave out," she told TMZ.

On screen, Hill was played by Ray Liotta in the 1990 Oscar-winning film.

The movie was based on the 1986 book Wiseguy, written by crime reporter Nicholas Pileggi, which documented Hill's life.

Ms Caserta told CBS News Hill was with family members when he died, adding he "went out pretty peacefully, for a goodfella".

Born into an Italian-Irish family, Hill was as an associate of the Lucchese crime family in New York.

He was involved in numerous criminal acts including the Lufthansa heist at John F Kennedy International Airport in 1978, when $5m (£3.2m) in cash and $875,000 (£560,000) worth of jewels were stolen.

Hill lived the mob life for 20 years until 1980 when he was arrested on drugs charges and, to avoid prison, agreed to testify against his former mafia bosses.

He entered into witness protection but was expelled from the programme in the early 1990s after committing various drug-related crimes.

In more recent years, Hill became a frequent guest on The Howard Stern Show, marketed his own spaghetti sauce and opened a restaurant called Wiseguys.

Goodfellas was nominated for six academy awards including best director and best picture, but picked up just one for Joe Pesci in the supporting actor role of Tommy DeVito, based on real-life mobster Thomas DeSimone.

Source: bbc.co.uk

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