Sunday, October 22, 2006

Feds Give Up on Junior

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

For John A. (Junior) Gotti, the third mistrial was the charm.

Federal prosecutors announced yesterday they will not retry Gotti for racketeering and will abandon efforts to nail him for trying to kill radio host Curtis Sliwa. Manhattan U.S. Attorney Michael Garcia said in a statement that a fourth trial was "not in the interests of justice in light of the three prior hung juries."

That means for the first time in eight years, Gotti, 42, is a free man with no criminal charges hanging over him. That didn't sit well with Sliwa, who vowed to bring a lawsuit against Gotti seeking damages for the 1992 shooting, which allegedly was in retaliation for his on-air attacks on the late Gambino crime boss John Gotti.

"I feel as disappointed as a Mets fan today," Sliwa told the Daily News. "I would have hoped they would have prosecuted him four or five times. But I understand they have to deal with legal technicalities."

Late yesterday afternoon, Gotti - whose father's ability to beat the rap earned him the moniker the Teflon Don - returned to his gated mansion in Oyster Bay Cove, L.I., with one of his sons in a chauffeured sedan, declining to speak to a reporter.

The mob scion has expressed interest in moving out West, returning to school to study child psychology and writing a book, but he needs permission from the feds because he's still on supervised release for his 1998 federal conviction. "He's been talking about plans for the future and now John has the freedom to go on with his life," sister Victoria Gotti said. "His only option, I think, is to get off the [government's] radar and go off and live somewhere else, like the Midwest or down South."

She said the entire Gotti clan is "beat up and tired" after three trials that have taken a heavy emotional toll on her brother. Gotti already had heard the good news on the radio by the time defense lawyer Charles Carnesi reached him. "He was thrilled," Carnesi said. "As much as it was expected, it's still different when you finally have confirmation.

"He wants to leave New York as soon as it can be arranged," Carnesi added.

Sliwa said he's owed monetary damages - "I can't tell you the pain I suffer as a result of the rearrangement of my internal plumbing" - and promised to donate any proceeds to charity. But his lawsuit is probably dead on arrival, legal experts say, for the very same reason the feds failed to convict Gotti - the statute of limitations has passed.

Although the jury in the last mistrial agreed to convict Gotti in the Sliwa attack - which might have created an exception to the one-year statute of limitations for filing a civil suit - there was no verdict because they were hung on the racketeering charge.

Gotti's mother, Victoria, didn't think much of Sliwa's threatened suit. "I think the victims of all his hoaxes should sue him," she said, referring to Sliwa's admissions that he had staged publicity stunts to get media coverage of the Guardian Angels, including a fabricated claim that he had been kidnapped by a city transit cop.

Though Gotti insists he left the Mafia behind in 1999, one law enforcement source said it's "pretty impossible" to believe he's going to move away and go straight. "He sitting on a ton of money which is all ill-gotten gains," the source said. "He knows one life and it's called organized crime. Plus he has to look over his shoulder with the Gambino family because he really upset a lot of people." But mob expert Jerry Capeci said he doesn't think anyone is gunning for Gotti for speaking to prosecutors, which at one point was a serious Mafia no-no. "He never hurt anyone, never became a cooperating witness," Capeci said. "Even though three juries could never agree on whether he quit the mob, his Gambino crime family days are gone, if not forgotten."

Thanks to John Marzulli

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