Former mob informant Henry Hill ended up making it to a ripe old age in spite of his famous yet short-lived career as a gangster, which was chronicled in the iconic 1990 Martin Scorsese flick, Goodfellas, starring Ray Liotta as Hill, Robert De Niro, Joe Pesci, Frank Vincent and Paul Sorvino. Hill died Tuesday at a hospital in Wells Hill, Calif., at the age of 69 of complications from smoking-related heart problems.

In the 1970s, Hill was a member of the Lucchese New York crime family when he participated in the 1978 heist of $5.8 million from John F. Kennedy International Airport, which was reportedly the biggest single cash robbery in U.S. history, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Hill became an informant in 1980 when he was busted in a cocaine operation. At the time, he was also in fear for his life, as everyone who had been involved in the airport heist started turning up dead. “I knew I was going to get whacked and it came pretty close,” Hill told the Telegraph in 2010. “So it was either me or them. I knew it, and they knew it.”

Once under witness protection, it wasn’t all smooth sailing for Hill. “Initially, I had a lot of remorse and it took me a long time to forgive myself for what I did, being a rat. But I knew I saved a lot of lives by putting a lot of horrible people away. You live by the sword, you die by the sword.” Hill was relocated to Omaha with his two children and wife, from whom he later divorced.

Hill later called Goodfellas “99.9 percent dead-on,” in its portrayal of him — especially in the fact he never killed anyone while living on the other side of the law. “I was the money man,” Hill said.

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