6

I was watching Goodfellas for the 8 billionth time the other night and started thinking about the scene where Henry got pinched selling cigarettes. Paul had all the cops on the take, and the cops never went after Tommy even though they had to have seen him helping out.

So, was Henry pinched on purpose to see how he'd react and whether he could be trusted?

5

There's no indication of it.

Certainly some of the police were on the take but a distinction is made in the script that the arresting officers were City Detetctives and not regular uniformed patrol officers.

           WE SEE HENRY busily selling cartons to WORKERS. TOMMY is 
           getting cartons out. of the trunk of a car parked nearby. 
           HENRY is so busy he can hardly keep the money and cash 
           straight. Instead of the neat roll we saw on JIMMY, HENRY's 
           cash is a wrinkled mess. Some of it is rolled, some folded, 
           some in different pockets. WE SEE HENRY approached by TWO 
           CITY DETECTIVES.

There is additional dialogue in the movie, not in the script, when De Niro says ...

Everybody gets pinched but you did it right...

As it happens, this scene is created for the movie as Hill's first arrest is quite different.

Hill was first arrested when he was 16; his arrest record is one of the few official documents that prove his existence. Hill and Lenny, Vario's equally underage son, attempted to use a stolen credit card to buy snow tires for Tuddy's wife's car. When Hill and Lenny returned to Tuddy's, two police detectives apprehended Hill.

During a rough interrogation, Hill gave his name and nothing else; Vario's attorney later facilitated his release on bail. While a suspended sentence resulted, Hill's refusal to talk earned him the respect of both Vario and Burke. Burke, in particular, saw great potential in Hill.

Wikipedia

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