The Chicago Syndicate: Chef Junior Gotti?

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Chef Junior Gotti?

Friends of ours: John "Junior" Gotti, Gambino Crime Family

Prosecutors on Thursday accused mob figure John 'Junior' Gotti of having 'cooked up' his defense against racketeering and conspiracy allegations as they opened their case in his third trial on the charges. Jurors deadlocked in the two previous trials when they could not agree on the 42-year-old's defense that he withdrew from the mob while in prison on separate charges.

Gotti says he left the Mafia before he pleaded guilty to racketeering charges in 1999, meaning that a five-year statute of limitations would by now have expired. Prosecutors say Gotti took over as boss of the Gambino crime family after his notorious father, John J. Gotti, was sent to prison in 1992. He died there ten years later.

The younger Gotti is suspected of ordering the beating and kidnapping of Curtis Sliwa, founder of New York's Guardian Angels anti-crime patrols after Sliwa criticized his father on his radio show. Prosecutor Victor Hou said on Thursday that Gotti's defense was a 'ploy' thought up while he served prison time knowing he would be indicted again.

Hou said the government had fresh evidence that Gotti continued to be a part of the mob from prison, including receiving rent from properties bought with mob proceeds. 'The truth is Gotti never left the life because he never gave up his mob money,' Hou told the jury in Manhattan federal court. 'It is an elaborate lie he cooked up a year before he was ever charged in this case.'

He said he would introduce tape recordings of Gotti showing anger at being demoted in the Gambino family as evidence he was still part of the mob and that he deliberately talked about having left knowing he was being recorded by the government. But Gotti's lawyer Charles Carnesi told the jury that the government would present old evidence that only proved he was a mob figure before 1999. 'There is nothing new that has come to the attention of the government,' he said. 'They don't have evidence after 1999. They know he was out, so they want to recycle this.'

Tapes prosecutors would introduce only proved he had left, he said. 'In 1999 Mr Gotti wanted to get out of his life in the criminal world,' he said. 'That is the message in this trial, he's out of this life.'

Prosecutors added several new charges for his third trial including racketeering and witness tampering to counter his defense. Sliwa is expected to again testify he was shot and wounded in the back of a taxi in Manhattan but miraculously survived. The trial is expected to last several weeks.

Thanks to Christine Kearney

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