FIRST BLACK MAN DOWN WITH MAJOR MOB CREW:
Parnell Steven "Stacks" Edwards (no photo available) was an African-American petty thief who became associated with the infamous Jimmy Burke during the 1978 Lufthansa Heist.
In addition, mobster Henry Hill used to use him in his credit card fraud operations. He was eventually assassinated by Tommy DeSimone and Angelo John Sepe for not fulfilling his role in the heist properly. Parnell Edwards was portrayed by Samuel L. Jackson in the film Goodfellas.
Parnell met Henry Hill in 1967 through Tommy DeSimone as a struggling blues-rock musician, singer and songwriter on the street in downtown Queens and the two became involved in credit card fraud and hijacking together. Parnell was a Ozone Park, Queens born mulatto-skinned black man who was said to have been quite tall. Parnell was a heavy drug-user and sometime in the 1970's started injecting heroin.
Parnell moved from Baton Rouge as a child to New York city with his family. Growing up he his interest in music increased and he learned how to play the acoustic guitar. His agent was Dante Barzotini, who also worked with Frank Sinatra, Jr. Parnell met Dante Barzotini through Tommy DeSimone. He gradually became involved in many schemes, including buying goods on stolen credit cards. He also acted as a chauffeur for Jimmy Burke and Paul Vario and was usually paid in stolen goods.
He would take the stolen goods and sell them to independent stores in the neighborhoods of Harlem, Queens and Jackson Heights or at flea markets in the area. In 1978 Henry Hill, working from a tip-off from bookmaker Martin Krugman, told Jimmy Burke of vast sums of cash ($5 million) being held overnight in a safe at the Lufthansa cargo terminal at JFK airport in New York.
Burke analyzed the possibilities and drew the conclusion that about 6 men, according to airport insider Lou Werner, and two panel trucks would be needed to successfully steal the cash. The money was totally untraceable money, i.e. once they had the money they could, within limits, spend it without question. This was the first stage of the Lufthansa Heist. Burke assembled a crew, involving Joe Manri, Robert McMahon, Louis Cafora, Tommy DeSimone, Paolo LiCastri, and Angelo John Sepe, including Parnell Edwards. Edwards' job was to take the panel truck used in the heist and drive it to a junkyard in New Jersey, where mafia contacts would compact it and the evidence would be destroyed. The heist worked out better than Burke could have imagined, but Parnell had neglected his duty and had used marijuana, visited his girlfriend and fallen asleep.
Unfortunately for Parnell the police had found the panel truck, with a muddy boot print (matching a pair of shoes owned by Parnell) and fingerprints had been taken from the wheel. Being a friend, Tommy DeSimone was at first torn apart when mobster Joseph DiPalermo ordered him to kill Edwards.
Although DeSimone had killed 8 or 9 people up to that point in his life he was still, he felt, no closer to being a made-man and as such wasn't pleased about killing Stacks, but DiPalermo sneakily told him that he could be 'made' by this murder.
Stacks had gone into hiding in an Ozone Park apartment and had been sitting at his kitchen table eating his breakfast when Tommy walked in and fired several shots into Stacks' head and chest using a .32 silencer-equipped pistol, killing him.