"I called your f-cking house five times yesterday, now, if you're going to disregard my motherf-cking phone calls, I'll blow you and that f-cking house up . . . This is not a f-cking game. My time is valuable. If I ever hear anybody else calls you and you respond within five days, I'll f-cking kill you.'' - John Gotti
John Joseph Gotti, Jr (October 27, 1940 - June 10, 2002) was the Boss of the New York City Gambino crime family after the murder of the previous boss Paul Castellano. John Gotti was the most powerful crime boss during his era. He became widely known for his outspoken personality and flamboyant style that eventually caused his downfall.
He was known by the media as "The Dapper Don" because he wore expensive clothes and "The Teflon Don" because the majority of attempts to convict him resulted in either a hung jury or an acquittal.
In 1992, Gotti was convicted of 13 murders, conspiracy to commit murder, racketeering, obstruction of justice, illegal gambling, extortion, tax evasion, and loansharking where he was sentenced to life in prison without parole. He died there 10 years later of cancer.
Early Criminal Career[edit | edit source]
Gotti's criminal career with the Gambino crime family began when he joined Carmine Fatico's crew, which was part of what became known as the Gambino family after the murder of Albert Anastasia. Gotti's first nine arrests were in the company of Angelo Ruggiero. Together with his brother Gene and Ruggiero, Gotti carried out truck hijackings at Idlewild Airport (subsequently renamed John F. Kennedy International Airport); during this period he was given the nicknames "Black John" and "Crazy Horse" The airport was the territory of the Lucchese crime family, specifically, the Paul Vario crew, which included such mob associates as Henry Hill and Jimmy Burke.
In February 1968 United Airlines employees identified Gotti as the man who had signed for stolen merchandise. The FBI arrested him for the United hijacking soon after. Two months later, while out on bail, Gotti was arrested a third time for hijacking—this time stealing a load of cigarettes worth $50,000 on the New Jersey Turnpike. Later that year, Gotti pled guilty to the Northwest hijacking and was sentenced to three years at Lewisburg Federal Penitentiary. Prosecutors dropped the charges for the cigarette hijacking. Gotti also pled guilty to the United hijacking, and spent less than three years at Lewisburg.
After he was released from prison, Gotti was placed on probation and ordered to acquire legitimate employment. Meanwhile, he returned to his old crew at the Bergin Hunt and Fish Club, still working under caporegime Carmine Fatico. Fatico was indicted on loansharking charges, and made Gotti the acting capo of the Bergin Crew, reporting to Carlo Gambino and Aniello Dellacroce.
In the mid-1970s, Gotti was suspected of conspiring to murder a partner of his in a flea market, Genovese Carlo DiPietro. The murder was carried out by another Genovese and Gotti pal, Joseph "Joe Glitz" Galizia.
The Death of Frank Gotti[edit | edit source]
On March 18, 1980, Gotti's youngest son, 12-year-old Frank Gotti, was run over and killed on a family friend's mini-bike by John Favara, a neighbor. Favara dragged the boy's body about 200 feet, and was forced to stop by witnesses. He got out of his car screaming, blaming the boy for being in the street. Someone told him that it was Gotti's son, and he quieted down.
Police found Favara not to blame for the accident, and no charges were ever filed against him, however he never had the dent repaired to his car as a result of the accident. In the months after the accident, the words "MURDERER" were spray-painted onto Favara's car, and he was advised to move. On July 28, 1980, Favara disappeared after leaving work and has never been found. The Gotti family was in Florida at the time of his disappearance. In January 2009, prosecutors claimed that Charles Carneglia, an alleged mob soldier awaiting trial on five murders, dissolved Favara's remains in a drum of acid after murdering him.
Gambino Family[edit | edit source]
Paul Castellano, Gambino's brother-in-law, was elevated to the head of the crime family after Gambino's death in 1976. Gotti's crew was discovered to be selling heroin against the rules of the family. Gotti allegedly ordered the execution in late 1985 of Paul Castellano (he was shot six times along with his bodyguard Thomas Bilotti outside Sparks Steak House in mid-town Manhattan). Gotti then is said to have taken control of the family.
Paul Castellano was rumored to have given Gotti the contract to kill notorious Gambino soldier and serial killer Roy DeMeo but Gotti is said to have politely declined. DeMeo was considered extremely dangerous and was said to have murdered as many as 200 people together with his crew which operated out of the Gemini Lounge in Brooklyn. On an FBI bug in the Bergin Hunt and Fish Club in Queens, Gene Gotti was heard telling Angelo Ruggiero that Castellano was having a difficult time finding anyone willing to kill DeMeo.
Gotti was arrested several times throughout his career, serving time in both state and federal prison, including a manslaughter conviction in connection with the 1973 shooting death of low-level Irish-American gangster James McBratney who had kidnapped and killed Emmanuel Gambino, Carlo Gambino's nephew. By the 1980s he was referred to by the news media as the "Teflon Don" as he avoided conviction on racketeering and assault charges.
Post Arrest and Death[edit | edit source]
Gotti was under electronic surveillance by the FBI; they caught him on tape in an apartment discussing a number of murders and other criminal activities. The FBI also caught Gotti questioning why his underboss Gravano had so many guys who were close to him winding up dead. On December 11, 1990, FBI agents and New York City detectives raided the Ravenite Social Club and arrested Gotti, Gravano, and Gambino Family consigliere Frank Locascio.
Federal prosecutors have credited Gotti himself with assisting them in imprisoning all 23 family capos (in 1990), because Gotti ordered that all family capos had to meet him each Wednesday at the Ravenite Social Club, allowing the feds to establish the existence of a criminal enterprise.
Gotti was charged with 13 counts of murder (including those of Paul Castellano and Thomas Bilotti), conspiracy to commit murder, loansharking, racketeering, obstruction of justice, illegal gambling, and tax evasion.
Gotti was tried in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York before United States District Judge I. Leo Glasser. The federal prosecutor's evidence was overwhelming. Not only did they have Gotti on tape, but they also had several witnesses to testify against Gotti. Philip Leonetti, a former Underboss in the violent Philadelphia crime family, was going to testify that Gotti bragged that he had ordered Castellano's execution. Then, Sammy Gravano agreed to testify against Gotti and Locascio, with the promise of being entered into the Witness Protection Program. Gravano subsequently pled guilty to a single count of racketeering as part of a plea agreement in which he admitted responsibility for 19 murders. On April 2, 1992, after only 13 hours of deliberation, the jury found Gotti and Locascio guilty on all 13 charges. On June 23, 1992, Judge Glasser sentenced Gotti to life imprisonment without possibility of parole. He was sent to the United States Penitentiary at Marion, Illinois, where he was kept in a cell 23 hours a day. His Federal Bureau of Prisons ID was 18261-053.
While in prison, Gotti offered $100,000 to the Aryan Brotherhood to kill Walter Johnson, a mentally unstable black inmate who had assaulted him. The Aryan Brotherhood accepted Gotti's offer. The prison guards surmised that Johnson was in danger, and moved him to a different cell block, ultimately transferring him to another prison where Johnson was eventually paroled. Gotti, during a prison visit with his family was recorded saying: "Being a nigger is an embarrassment."
John Gotti died of throat cancer at 12:45 p.m. on June 10, 2002 at the United States Medical Center for Federal Prisoners in Springfield, Missouri, where he had been transferred once the cancer was diagnosed. Gotti had the lower half of his jaw removed because of the cancer and was fed through a tube. The Roman Catholic Diocese of Brooklyn announced that Gotti's family would not be permitted to have a Mass of Christian Burial but allowed it after the burial.