Saturday, September 23, 2006

No Verdict Yet for Junior Gotti

Friends of ours: John "Junior" Gotti

Jurors in John A. (Junior) Gotti's racketeering trial wrapped up their fourth day of deliberations yesterday by asking for homework.

Jurors wanted to take home a lengthy jury charge, which details the law they must apply in reaching a verdict, but Manhattan Federal Judge Shira Scheindlin denied the request after both sides objected. Prosecutors and the defense feared doing so might invite jurors to consult with relatives or friends.

Scheindlin suggested reading the charge at home over the weekend might help jurors as they ponder their decision. "I will be guided by your unanimity but I think it's unfortunate," Scheindlin told the attorneys.

Early in the day, jurors asked to listen to a tape of a recorded July 2003 prison visit, which included Gotti encouraging Howard Beach pal Steve Dobies to hold a fund-raiser to help him pay his legal bills.

Several of the jurors' notes to the judge have focused on testimony that centers on the key element in Gotti's defense - that he renounced all ties to the mob in 1999 around the time he pleaded guilty to racketeering charges. Gotti served six years in prison on those charges.

Gotti, 42, is accused in a wide-ranging conspiracy of loansharking, extortion, witness-tampering and kidnapping. He's accused of sending thugs to silence radio host Curtis Sliwa in June 1992, after Sliwa repeatedly mocked the Gotti clan on the air.

The mob scion scored mistrials when jurors deadlocked at two earlier trials.

Thanks to Thomas Zambito

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