Friday, February 24, 2006

Two Faces of Junior Gotti Presented to Jury

Friends of ours: Gambino Crime Family, Junior Gotti

Prosecutor says he's a mobster; defense says he's legit

A prosecutor told a jury Tuesday that John "Junior" Gotti was like his father, a merciless, violent mobster, but a defense lawyer said the son was out of the mob and ready to start a new and honorable Gotti legacy. A jury last fall acquitted Gotti of securities fraud but deadlocked on racketeering counts, leading to the retrial that started Tuesday.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Joon Hyun Kim and Gotti lawyer Charles Carnesi went on so long that the judge yawned, jurors fidgeted and Carnesi apologized. All the while, Gotti sat forward in his chair, following the speaker with his eyes as Kim pointed at him and accused him of a "life of crime." Carnesi later portrayed him as a man determined to steer his family to a mob-free future.

Gotti showed emotion only when Carnesi told jurors that his father, John Gotti Sr., suffered a "horrible death" from cancer in prison in 2002, 10 years after he was sentenced to life in prison after his own racketeering conviction. The prosecutor said the 42-year-old Gotti became upset that Curtis Sliwa was trashing his father on his morning radio show in 1992. Kim said Gotti instructed underlings in the Gambino mob family to kidnap Sliwa and beat him.

On June 19, 1992, Sliwa got into a cab at dawn outside his Lower East Side apartment only to discover that the rear doors and windows were inoperable from within and that a gunman had been hiding on the front passenger floor. He was shot twice and critically injured but managed to catapult into the front of the cab and out a window. "That was the price John Gotti made Curtis Sliwa pay for exercising his right to free speech," Kim said. Sliwa recovered and resumed his radio show and his attacks against the Gotti family. Sliwa is scheduled to testify at the current trial, just as he did at the last, which ended in September.

Kim said Gotti joined the century-old Gambino family in the 1980s, climbing the mob's ladder from associate to soldier to high-ranking captain to street boss after his father was put in prison. He said the Gambino family had hundreds of low-level mobsters virtually controlling parts of the city's construction industry for more than a decade as payoffs made their way to Gotti's pockets.

Carnesi said the government's case was built on the testimony of mob killers who made up lies to avoid life prison sentences and knew that Gotti's name could win them the best deal. He said Gotti never ordered the kidnapping and beating of Sliwa.
Carnesi said Gotti initially was under the spell of his larger-than-life father, but decided to reject organized crime when he pleaded guilty to other racketeering charges in 1999, serving five years in prison and giving up $1.5 million.

No comments:

Post a Comment