The Chicago Syndicate: Gotti Mob Magic Does It Again with Hung Jury.
The Mission Impossible Backpack

Monday, March 13, 2006

Gotti Mob Magic Does It Again with Hung Jury.

Friends of ours: Junior Gotti

Call him the Teflon Scion. John "Junior" Gotti, son of the Teflon Don, slipped clear of the feds' determined grasp yet again yesterday with his second mistrial in eight
months after prosecutors apparently failed to convince two-thirds of the jury that he was guilty of racketeering.

After less than 10 hours of deliberation, the jury foreman wrote a note to Manhattan federal Judge Shira Scheindlin: "We are completely DEADLOCKED. More time will not change the views in this room."

The foreman, Greg Rosenblum, later revealed that eight jurors believed Gotti's claim that he had quit the mob before July 22, 1999 - meaning the five-year statute of limitations would have expired on racketeering charges that the feds brought in 2004. Rosenblum told WNBC/Channel 4 those same eight jurors also had enough doubt in their mind to clear Junior on charges he ordered the kidnapping of radio host Curtis Sliwa.

"How many people on that jury felt that he had given up the mob life? Eight. And the other four felt . . . that he was still involved in some way," Rosenblum said. The foreman accused the four holdouts of finding Gotti guilty before giving him a chance to prove his innocence - and said that nothing the defense did was going to change their minds. "I was hoping that everyone could have at least kept an open mind, but it seemed like certain individuals on the jury had him guilty beforehand," Rosenblum said. "There was no evidence that we could directly see that linked him to anything since 1999 that would implicate him in any sort of extortion or loan-sharking schemes."

On Sliwa's kidnapping, Rosenblum said, "The eight that felt that he had withdrawn [from the mob] also felt that there was enough evidence pointing, enough doubt, enough reasonable doubt, that he had nothing to do with it whatsoever."

As the judge excused the panel, a relieved Gotti hugged his lawyer, Charles Carnesi, while another member of his defense team called Junior's wife, Kim. "He's coming home again - it was a good result," lawyer Seth Ginsberg told her. But Kim Gotti already knew, because minutes earlier a Post photographer had told her the verdict as she raked leaves on the front lawn of her Oyster Bay Cove, L.I., mansion.

"No way!" she exclaimed, dropping the rake and running inside the house. But her husband's trials are not over. The prosecution team immediately asked the judge for a speedy retrial date. "We gotta do it one more time," said Junior, who is free, under house arrest, on $7 million bail. "I'm going to sleep in my own bed tonight . . . It's better than sleeping in the MCC [Metropolitan Correctional Center]. "I'm happy," he added as hugged his mother, Victoria. "I'm financially ruined, but what are you gonna do?"

His mother, Victoria, who heard testimony about her Dapper Don Juan hubby's love affairs and allegedly illegitimate children during the trial, was not happy. "I'm just very disgusted at this point . . . They're trying to railroad my son," she snarled. Her namesake daughter, Victoria, chimed in: "We wanted an acquittal. I just think they're going to keep on trying. The fact that they're not winning is great."

As he hopped into a car to head home, Gotti told a crush of reporters, "I'm going to see my children." On the prospect of another retrial, he said: "I'm worried. I'm
concerned always. I've got five children home. I want to raise my children."

If convicted, Gotti, 42, faced up to 30 years in prison for kidnapping and extortion. He is accused of a long-running racketeering conspiracy - including sending two mob hoods to kidnap and beat up Sliwa in 1992. Defense attorneys admitted young Gotti had been active in organized crime, but insisted he had withdrawn in early 1999.

Sliwa, the founder of the Guardian Angels, had testified about the shooting attack at the retrial - as he did at the first trial. But this time around, his WABC radio talk-show partner, civil-rights lawyer Ron Kuby, took the stand as a defense witness and, in bombshell testimony, supported Gotti's claim that he had quit the Gambino crime family. He testified that Gotti told him in 1998 that "he was sick of this life . . . He wanted to rejoin his family and be done with this."

Sliwa, who rushed to the federal courthouse when he learned about the hung jury, blasted Kuby for betraying him and said he wouldn't be surprised if his former pal was at Gotti's home "toasting his friend."

In seeking a speedy retrial, prosecutor Michael McGovern lobbied for an April 17 start, but the defense pushed for a later date. "The lawyers on this team haven't been paid for this trial, now we're talking about another trial," said defense lawyer Debra Karlstein. The judge ordered lawyers for both sides to return to court on Monday to set a retrial date.

Gotti's pregnant wife rushed out onto their front lawn with the family dog and three of her kids when he pulled up shortly before 5 p.m. "I feel great, these are my three sons," Junior Gotti said, posing with them briefly before disappearing inside. Asked what his wife had prepared for dinner, he said, "Whatever she makes - any free meal is a good meal."

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