Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Junior Gotti the Hollywood Scriptwriter?

He is one of the most feared men in New York, with a family history of bribery, tax evasion, extortion, and murder. But after his trial on charges of conspiracy to commit murder ended in a jury deadlock two years ago, John Gotti Jr—son of the ‘Teflon Don’ John J. Gotti, and former head of the Gambino crime family—says he’s ready to give up a life of organised crime and finally go legit.

His new job after giving up the Mafia? Hollywood scriptwriter.

“He’s willing to go all the way, revealing as much as possible [in his screenplay] without hurting anyone who’s still involved in the street life,” Tony D’Aiuto, head of the New York production company Triplicity Entertainment, told the influential film industry website Deadline Hollywood this week. D’Auito is certainly familiar with the material: he used to act as the Gotti family’s defence lawyer.

It is thought that Gotti, 46—whose sister, Victoria, was until recently a reality television star and a columnist for the New York Post—hopes to turn his life story into a Goodfellas-style feature film, full-length documentary, and a book. He intends to pitch his story to major Hollywood studios as an epic father-and-son melodrama.

It’s unlikely, however, that Gotti will want to revisit the most notorious incident of his life, when the FBI searched the basement of one of his properties in Queens and found a list of ‘made’ members of his organisation, including the names of guests who attended his wedding—examples including Big Louie, Jackie Nose, Sammy Bull, Benny Eggs, Fat Andy, and Lil Funzie— and the dollar values of their gifts.

Agents also found a gun with a silencer, a semi-automatic rifle, and $348,700 in cash.

The bust inspired headlines such as “Like godfather, like son? Not quite” and an article in USA Today describing Gotti as a ‘dumbfella’, and Gotti was later sentenced to 77 months in prison.

NeverthelessWiseguy, If Gotti’s new career is successful, it could provide the general public with the most authentic inside account of the New York mob since an associate of the Lucchese family, Henry Hill, turned his life story into the book Wiseguy in the mid-1980s. The book was later adapted for the big screen, and became the Martin Scorsese movie Goodfellas.

Hill’s crimes included participation in the notorious $6 million Lufthansa heist of 1978—the biggest robbery in US history at the time—fixing basketball games in Boston, and smuggling heroin and cocaine.

Hill’s circumstances were very different to Gotti’s, however: when the publishing company Simon & Schuster bought the rights to his story in 1981 for a reported $96,250 (£63,000)—the equivalent of $230,000 today—he had already negotiated so-called ‘transactional immunity’ for his crimes in return for appearing as the FBI’s star witness in 10 trials, ultimately putting 50 of mobsters in jail, including 'Uncle Paulie' Vario and Jimmy ‘the Gent’ Burke (played by Robert De Niro in Goodfellas).

Authorities in New York later attempted to block Hill from being paid for Wiseguy under the Son of Sam law, which was first enacted to stop the serial killer David Berkowitz (who believed he was being controlled by a demon father-figure named Sam) from profiting from his crimes. The effort failed thanks to a Supreme Court ruling in Hill’s favour: it accepted Simon & Schuster’s argument that the ex-mobster's First Amendment rights should prevail, especially given that he had never even been arrested, never mind charged, for most of his crimes.

It’s unlikely that Gutty could make the same case, unless his life were heavily fictionalised.

During his most recent trial, in 2008, prosecutors attempted to link him to the murders of three men during the 1980s and 1990s. Ely Honig, an assistant United States attorney, told the court that Gotti was a dangerous man. “The defendant ordered and oversaw the three murders,” he said.

Regardless, the jurors failed to reach a verdict.

The previous case against Gotti came in 2005 when he was charged of ordered the kidnapping of Curtis Sliwa, founder of the Guardian Angels. As in the 2008 trial, the jurors deadlocked. Two retrials also failed.

Ironically, working on the screenplay of his life could prove to be the most dangerous thing the former mobster has ever done. When Hill was writing Wiseguy with the author Nick Pileggi, for example, a $2 million hit was put out on his life.

Contacted yesteday by The Times, Hill declined to comment on Gotti’s plans.

“He could care less,” said a representative for the ex-mobster, adding that Hill blamed the Gambino family for the execution of his former friend, Tommy ‘Two Gun’ DeSimone.

Thanks to Chris Ayres

1 comment:

  1. I must say it's not a surprise. I could've almost bet on this one. Everyone is trying to cash in on the mafia freight train. If his father was alive he wouldn't have the balls to try something like that. John Sr is rolling inhis grave... R.I.P John Gotti Sr

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