The Chicago Syndicate: Gambino Wiseguy Gets 20 Years in Prison
The Mission Impossible Backpack

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Gambino Wiseguy Gets 20 Years in Prison

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

Curtis Sliwa brushed away tears yesterday as a judge sentenced a Gambino thug he long wanted to see behind bars to 20 years in prison.

Jurors may have cleared Michael Yannotti in the 1992 point-blank shooting of the radio host - but Manhattan Federal Judge Shira Scheindlin refused to show the Mafia muscle any mercy as she sent him up the river on an unrelated racketeering count.

Sliwa was shot twice as he tried to dive out the window of a stolen yellow cab whose doors had been rigged shut.

Scheindlin made clear she still believes Yannotti was the triggerman. "How Mr. Sliwa survived the attack at all is simply a miracle," Scheindlin said. She said Sliwa, the founder of the city's famed Guardian Angels, "demonstrated superhuman strength and ingenuity to get out of that death car."

After watching crime boss John Gotti Jr. score three mistrials for his alleged role in the shooting, Sliwa said it was the first time he'd felt a measure of justice for the attack he says wrecked his second marriage and left him with intestinal injuries that cause him suffering every day. "This is not Sicily, this is not Baghdad, this is not Gaza," Sliwa said. "When he shot those bullets into me he attempted to stifle my free speech. ... It's a nightmare ... mentally and physically."

Yannotti, 43, shook his head in disbelief each time Scheindlin linked him to the shooting. Prosecutors say Gotti sent Yannotti and another wiseguy to abduct Sliwa on June 19, 1992, following Sliwa's relentless on-air attacks on the Gotti clan.

Yannotti, the feds insist, jumped up from the passenger seat of the cab and, shouting, "Take this, you son of a b----," fired two shots from a .38-caliber gun that hit Sliwa in his leg and abdomen.

The 20-year sentence stunned Yannotti's supporters. "Jesus," one whispered as Yannotti's sobbing sister ran from court.

Jurors at Yannotti's 2005 trial acquitted him of the Sliwa shooting on a vote of seven to five favoring conviction. But prosecutor Victor Hou argued that the judge could factor the shooting into Yannotti's sentence on racketeering charges that included extortion and loansharking counts because of the "ample evidence" of his involvement.

Scheindlin agreed and ignore Yannotti's handwritten plea for mercy. "My parents are older and I don't have much time," Yannotti, 43, wrote. "I would like them to know their only son turned out all right." He asked that she allow him to restart his life with a wife he married in 1999 and two young daughters he called "the little treasures."

Sliwa vows to press ahead with a lawsuit accusing Junior Gotti of his role in his shooting. "The guy I still hold responsible for this is John Gotti Jr.," Sliwa said.

Thanks to Thomas Zambito

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