Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Fannie Gotti, Mother of the Dapper Don, Dies at 96

The woman who spawned some of the most notorious and violent gangsters in mob history died peacefully of natural causes in a Long Island nursing home at age 96, her family said yesterday.

Philomena "Fannie" Gotti died of natural causes Tuesday night at a retirement home in Valley Stream, said "Dapper Don" John Gotti's widow, Victoria. "She was an amazing lady," Victoria Gotti told the Post. "One of those strong, strong old-timers."

The announcement of the gangland matriarch's death came just a day before her grandson, John "Junior" Gotti, will be arraigned on murder charges in Tampa, Fla.

His attorney said the death should not have any impact on today's court hearing. "We don't plan on bringing it up," lawyer Seth Ginsberg said.

Fannie Gotti, a Bronx native, was married to construction worker John Joseph Gotti. She gave birth to 13 children in 16 years, two of whom died in childbirth, according to the book "Mob Star" by Jerry Capeci and Gene Mustain.

Five of her seven sons would go on to become made members of the Gambino crime family, which her fifth child, John, violently took control of by assassinating the reigning boss Paul Castellano in 1985 in front of Sparks Steak House.

Another one of her brutal boys, Peter, 68, tried to whack Salvatore "Sammy Bull" Gravano, the turncoat who helped put the Teflon Don behind bars.

Vincent Gotti, 56, pleaded guilty earlier this summer to the botched rubout of Howard Beach, Queens, deli owner Angelo Mugnolo, in a fight over a woman. He's awaiting sentencing in Brooklyn federal court.

The late John Gotti, famous for his flamboyant style and swagger before he died in prison in 2002, scoffed at news articles that made his parents out to be Italian immigrants who scraped together meager savings to book passage to America.

"That was one of the things John got mad about," said a source. "The stupid reporters who thought his folks came from Sicily. They were born in The Bronx."

Victoria Gotti, John's widow, described her late mother-in-law as a "typical old-fashioned lady. She was a housewife, a stay-at-home mom."

She said that mom and mob-boss son got along swimmingly, although "I'm sure like any mother and child, they had their little tiffs now and again."

In later years, Fannie took a job at the Bohack supermarket chain, where she worked in the butcher department wrapping meat, Victoria said.

In June 1992, Fannie's husband died of cancer at 85. It was just two days after John was sentenced to life in prison for his career of murder and racketeering.

Fannie was living with her daughter, Marie, in Valley Stream before she moved into a nearby retirement home, Victoria said. Funeral arrangements had not yet been made, she said.

Junior Gotti was "as close as any of the kids could be" with his grandmother, Victoria said. He is accused of ordering three gangland slayings in the late 1980s and early 1990s and running a giant coke dealing operation out of bars in Ozone Park, Queens.

Ginsberg said he would soon file a change-of-venue motion with the Tampa trial judge to have the case moved back to New York.

Thanks to Stephanie Cohen

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