The Chicago Syndicate: Junior Gotti
Showing posts with label Junior Gotti. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Junior Gotti. Show all posts

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Victoria Gotti Explodes in Court with Profane Tirade

She's one bad mother.

Mob matriarch Victoria Gotti unleashed a foul-mouthed fusillade at a federal judge Wednesday, exploding in fury as he booted a purportedly pro-defense juror.

"F----- animals!" screamed the seething mother of defendant John A. (Junior) Gotti. "They're railroading you! They're doing to you what they did to your father!"

Junior Gotti turned from the defense table to soothe his mother, but the wife of late mobster John (Dapper Don) Gotti ignored her 45-year-old son - and escalated her profane tirade.

"They're doing to you what they did to your father," the volatile Mafia mom ranted. "You f------ liar! You bastard!"

Junior interrupted: "I can deal with it. I'm okay. Don't worry about it. I'm fine." But his mother kept blasting with both barrels.

"They're the gangsters, right there!" she yelled. "The f------ gangsters! You son of a bitches! Put your own sons in there. You bastards!"

Federal Judge Kevin Castel was in the middle of dismissing contentious juror No. 7 when Victoria Gotti - who has a history of histrionics - sprung from her seat in full maternal meltdown.

She was hustled from the courtroom by three of her children before a scowling Castel continued, cutting loose the pro-defense juror. Prosecutors had sought her dismissal.

He also dismissed No. 7's nemesis, juror No. 11. The jury was out of the courtroom when Castel made his ruling - and when Victoria Gotti erupted.

"I don't know the source of the friction between the two jurors," Castel concluded after Victoria Gotti left. "It may be that one is a difficult personality or that both are difficult.

"Accordingly, I am striking both jurors."

The blowup came as the defense was wrapping up its case in Gotti's fourth racketeering trial in five years. The first three ended with hung juries and mistrials.

The jury rift opened last week, after a letter to the judge from an anonymous fellow panelist.

The juror ratted out No. 7, a 34-year-old mail carrier, as sweet on defense lawyer Charles Carnesi and giving her "undivided attention" to the defense case.

The letter raised hopes in the Gotti camp of a fourth mistrial. Then more problems emerged this week, with juror No. 11 accusing No. 7 of taunting her.

Castel attempted to calm the divided jury with sweet talk and sweets - a jar of Twizzlers. Neither worked. And nothing could calm Victoria Gotti, who had verbally assaulted Castel after a hearing in May.

"Why don't you hang him now?" she asked sarcastically at the time. "These are the good guys? God help us!"

Three years ago, in another Junior trial, she shouted at a federal prosecutor. "Who the hell do you think you're talking to?" she snapped.

Thanks to Alison Gendar and Larry McShane.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Jury Infighting at the Gotti Trial?

There's more infighting on the Gotti jury than at a gangland sitdown - and they're not even deliberating yet!

A tattling juror revealed the bad blood in a letter to the judge - ratting out a foul-mouthed, lunch-stealing fellow juror who isn't in a hurry to convict the mob scion.

"She announced that we the jurors better be prepared to be deliberating until after the Christmas holiday because ... she is not going to allow any f------ body to rush her," the two-page letter said.

The missive - signed "A Concerned Juror" - also accused juror No. 7 of ogling "defense attorney Mr. Charles Carneglia," apparently confusing defense lawyer Charles Carnesi with mob hit man Charles Carneglia.

The seventh juror allegedly found him "very handsome" and gave her "undivided attention" to the defense team, the letter said.

The mixup brought laughter from the defense table. "Hey, Frank," Gotti said to radio producer Frank Morano out of the jury's earshot. "The juror thinks the guy who represents me is a five-time murderer! What shot do I have?"

The letter contained other complaints about juror No. 7:

- She loudly announced plans for a book "regarding sitting in a jury room with jurors and their f------ attitude."

- She constantly spewed obscenities.

- She charged a takeout order of fried calamari to the court's tab when the panel visited a local restaurant.

Gotti supporters said juror No. 7 seemed to be an independent spirit but called for Judge Kevin Castel to give the letter writer the heave-ho. Castel did neither - but he did interview each panel member about the allegation that the juror, a 34-year-old postal worker, violated orders and yapped about the trial.

The judge asked each of the 16 jurors whether juror No. 7 had violated her oath by talking about the case, reading about it or getting information from outside sources.

"Maybe," said one juror, a 52-year-old retired teacher. "I think if someone talks to her about it on the outside, they may bring information to her about what they heard."

The judge did not ask who wrote the letter, and it was unclear if it might lead to a fourth mistrial in the federal racketeering case against Gotti.

The letter wasn't the only surprise yesterday: A woman called Castel's chambers to say she was approached by people saying, "John Gotti is on your side!" Out of the jury's presence, Castel asked the U.S. marshals to speak with the woman, who left her name and number, but dismissed it as a prank.

Thanks to Alison Gendar and Larry McShane

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Will Sammy the Bull Testify on Behalf of Junior Gotti?

John Gotti Jr.’s lawyer is considering making a star defense witness out of the mob rat whose testimony consigned Gambino crime family boss John Gotti Sr. to a life prison term, but this time he may be asked to save the Dapper Don’s son from a similar fate.

The defense is expected to begin presenting its case next week and Charles Carnesi, chief defense counsel for Gotti Jr., said he first wants to question Salvatore “Sammy the Bull” Gravano before deciding whether he will bring Gravano into the trial of Gotti Jr. in Manhattan federal court. “I plan to interview him, then we’ll see,” Carnesi said.

Gravano testified against Gotti Sr. in the 1992 trial that convicted the man that up to then had also been known as the Teflon Don for having avoided conviction in three earlier trials.Gravano was a high-ranking member of the Gambino family.

Gotti Sr., a Howard Beach resident, was convicted of murder and sentenced to life in prison where he died in 2002.

As with most convicted criminals who testify for the prosecution, Gravano was put into the federal Witness Protection Program. Gravano was relocated to Arizona, but sentenced to a 19-year prison sentence after he was convicted of operating an Ecstasy-selling drug ring.

The defense in Gotti Jr.’s trial is interested in questioning Gravano about the 1990 rub-out of Louis DeBono, whose body was discovered in a Cadillac in a World Trade Center garage. Federal prosecutors have been trying to establish that Gotti Jr. was involved in DeBono’s slaying.

Gotti Jr. is on trial for the fourth time since 2005 on charges of racketeering and two murders.

Federal Judge Kevin Castel, meanwhile, announced he had relieved of duty a second member of the jury, a 39-year-old equities manager, who complained that serving at length on the panel could come at a heavy cost to him.

The juror, who manages a portfolio, told the judge his work required unceasing supervision and if he was not allowed to have access to a computer, “then I have no choice but to respectfully ask that I am relieved.”

The judge had previously dismissed a female juror, who said she was too frightened to continue after a car grazed her near Union Square.

Federal prosecutors said Gotti Jr. was a Mafia mogul who presided over an empire of racketeering and ordered people killed.

The defense maintains that while Gotti Jr. may have once been a La Cosa Nostra higher up, he abdicated and turned his back on organized crime by 1999.

His first three trials ended in hung juries.

Thanks to Phillip Newman

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Junior Gotti Martini Drinking Contest Prize is a Stabbing According to Construction Worker

A self-styled construction coordinator testified Tuesday on how he once won a martini-drinking contest with John Gotti Jr. and got knifed in the shoulder for his trouble.

The appearance of Michael Finnerty, 43, came after seven days of colorful and sometimes horrific testimony from John Alite, a one-time top Mafia sidekick and buddy but now the sworn enemy of Gotti, a Howard Beach native.

Gotti lashed out at Alite, the star witness for the prosecution, after the jury left the courtroom last Thursday, calling him a dog and a punk.

Gotti is on trial for the fourth time since 2005 in Manhattan federal court on charges of racketeering and two murders. The prosecution contends he was kingpin of the Gambino crime family after his father died. The first three trials ended in hung juries.

The defense, headed by attorney Charles Carnesi, maintains Gotti had turned his back on organized crime by 1999, disillusioned and chastened by the death of John Gotti Sr., his colorful father, the Teflon Don, who was serving a life prison term for murder after avoiding conviction three times.

Finnerty told the jury about a night “in the mid-1980s” at the Shellbank bar on Cross Bay Boulevard in Howard Beach.

“John [Gotti] Jr. challenged me to a vodka martini contest and after we had been drinking awhile he left to go to the bathroom,” Finnerty said. “When he got back, I pointed to his glass and reminded him that he didn’t finish his drink.”

Finnerty said Gotti raised his arm as if to strike his drinking companion, “but at first I didn’t see the knife he had. He stabbed me twice in the shoulder blades.”

Finnerty said he fled the bar to a hospital.

“Did you give your real name at the hospital?” he was asked by the prosecution.

“No, they would have called the police,” Finnerty said. “The Gottis ran that neighborhood.”

Finnerty said he hid out until he got word through the grapevine that Gotti no longer was angry with him. He said Gotti explained to him their altercation was about “respect.”

Finnerty pleaded guilty to racketeering charges on the condition that he testify in the Gotti trial in the hope his sentence might be reduced. Finnerty, raised in Howard Beach, testified he dropped out of Christ the King High School as a senior and fell in with friends who operated a car theft ring, selling stolen automobiles to a junkyard.

Finnerty said he later saw Gotti and other Gambino crime family members in various bars and other locations in Queens.

Asked by a prosecutor what his occupation was, Finnerty replied “construction coordinator.”

On his seventh and final day of testimony last Thursday, Alite was being escorted out of the courtroom when he passed the defense table where Gotti was seated.

“You got something you want to say to me?” Alite said to Gotti, who shouted, “You’re a dog and a punk. A dog all your life.”

Judge Kevin Castel admonished Gotti, who apologized.

“You are not doing yourself any favors,” said Castel, who had prior to testimony in the case directed the defendant to remain silent throughout the proceedings.

Meanwhile, a juror in the trial was excused Tuesday after reporting that an incident in which a car nearly struck her had made her afraid to continue. The 55-year-old secretary had asked last week to be excused.

Judge Kevin Castel announced as the trial resumed that she would be released and replaced with an alternate. The juror explained that a car grazed her as she crossed a Manhattan street Oct. 2.

Thanks to Phillip Newman

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Gotti Painted as Typical Gangster at Trial

Victoria Gotti may be starting off a book tour like a celebrity author, but her brother John "Junior" Gotti has been sweating it out in court as prosecutors try to show he was a typical organized crime cretin.

For a full week ending Thursday, the federal government used its star witness, John Alite, to convince a federal jury in Manhattan that Gotti was as lethal a threat to society as anyone else in the Gambino crime family.

The testimony marks the first time in four racketeering trials for Gotti over the last four years that the government has produced a witness who could so dramatically link Gotti to stabbings and murders and beatings in the 1980s and 1990s.

Prosecutors seem intent on taking a shine off the Gotti name that has resulted in part from his sister.

Thanks to WCAX

Junior Gotti Explodes in Court

And on the seventh day, he lost it.

An enraged John A. (Junior) Gotti exploded Thursday, fed up after a week's worth of damning testimony from his ex-best friend - reportedly threatening to murder the mob informant in a Manhattan courtroom.

"I'll kill you," Gotti mouthed at John Alite just before the once inseparable duo shared a high-decibel Mafia meltdown in front of a stunned audience.

Jurors didn't see Gotti send that silent message to Alite, and they were ushered out of the courtroom before the real fireworks minutes later.

As Alite stepped down from the witness stand, he slowed and snarled at Gotti.

"You got something to say to me?" the star government witness barked, later telling the judge about the threat.

"You fag!" Gotti shouted back. "Did I kill little girls? You're a punk. You're a dog. You're a dog. You always were a dog your whole life, you punk dog."

The ugly encounter in federal court came after Alite blamed one of Gotti's uncles for a murder in the early 1990s.

The testimony enraged Gotti, who shouted at Alite while court officers intervened.

"You want to strangle little girls in a motel?" Gotti screamed as Alite was led away. "You dog!"

Alite had just testified that Vincent Gotti had strangled a young woman in a drug-fueled fight and left her body in a Queens motel bathtub.

Defense lawyer Charles Carnesi suggested Alite was the real killer.

"Ridiculous," said Alite, laughing. "His uncle, yes, strangled somebody and killed her. ... I wasn't there."

Alite confirmed that Junior was later blamed for the slaying, infuriating the Gambino boss.

Gotti, 45, facing his fourth racketeering trial, apologized for mouthing off, but federal Judge Kevin Castel was not moved by the mea culpa and said another outburst would land him in contempt.

"You are not doing yourself any favors, and you violated my direction," said Castel, who had warned Gotti during jury selection to keep his mouth shut.

Castel said he did not see Gotti mouth the threat at Alite, but accepted Prosecutor Elie Honig's claim that a U.S. Marshal saw Gotti do it.

"He lipped to me, 'We're gonna kill you,'" Alite told the judge. "So I said, 'What?' And he said, 'We're gonna kill you.'"

Gotti's mother, Victoria, said Alite went after her son because Carnesi was getting too close to the truth. Carnesi had forced Alite to recount hundreds of lies he had made - to the government, lawyers, family and friends - as he tried to worm his way out of a life sentence.

"Alite is a pathological liar - a rat caught in a proverbial trap, caught in his own lies, and he lashed out," she said.

The ex-friends ignored one another when they returned to court later in the day.

Thanks to Alison Gendar and Larry Mcshane

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Victoria Gotti Speaks Out on Her Father, John Gotti, and Her New Book "This Family of Mine"

Try as she might to be a typical working mother, Victoria Gotti will always be known as the mob boss's daughter.

So, when her family approached her about writing a memoir about life as a Gotti, she initially balked, worried about adding to more tabloid stories and untruths.

"I think, at some point around the holidays, my family came to me and said, 'Enough. When are you going to set the record straight?'" Gotti said on "Good Morning America" today. "They won out at the end, and I did it."

Gotti's new book, "This Family of Mine," details her life in the family led by John Gotti, head of the Gambino crime family, who, after several government attempts to nab him, was sentenced to life in prison in 1992 on a multitude of charges, including murder and racketeering.

Getting the blessing of her family members, Gotti said, she told them she wanted to tell the full story. "If we're going to do this, it's not going to be halfway," Gotti said she told her family.

In the book, Gotti, 46, wrote that she did not know of her father's deep involvement with the mob in the beginning. John Gotti never brought his business into the family home. "I was 8 years old. I was 10 years old. You believe what you want to believe," Gotti said. "Later in life, things start to come together."

Only in the mid- to late-1980s did Gotti, her sister and her mother finally realize what John Gotti was doing and how powerful he was within the Gambino crime family. "People think that was bizarre, but it's not," Gotti said, adding that her family always believed the tabloid stories were embellished.

The late John Gotti was finally sent to prison after several previous prosecutions had failed to stick. Initially known as "Dapper Don" for his fancy suits, the tabloids christened him "Teflon Don" for his ability to beat the charges repeatedly. But as her father nabbed more and more headlines and her brother, John "Junior" Gotti, faced scrutiny for his position as the acting head of the Gambino crime family, the entire family was subjected to tabloid reports.

"It just got to the point where there were no boundaries anymore," she said. "Everyone was fair game."

The younger Gotti is now facing another trial -- his fourth in five years -- for murder and racketeering.

Victoria Gotti said that while her brother had admitted to past indiscretions, "Junior" Gotti told her he'd sworn off the mob life 10 years ago and simply wanted to enjoy the pleasures of life with his family.

The back cover of "This Family of Mine" shows Victoria Gotti posing with her father at her 1984 wedding to Carmine Agnello, himself now serving prison time.

Gotti had 1,500 guests at her New York wedding, many of them involved in the mob. The picture shows her in tears.

Gotti told "Good Morning America" that she had initially seen the wedding as a way to break free of her father, who had become extremely overprotective, watching over her every move. "I was ambivalent, I think, even about getting married, anyway," she said. "I basically wanted to get out from under dad's rule, under dad's thumb."

The tears, she said, came after realizing she didn't know her husband very well and the realization that, even after wanting more freedom, the marriage would mean leaving the protective cocoon of her family home.

Now a mother to three sons, Carmine, John and Frank, Gotti said she instilled in her sons from an early age that mob life is not for them. "This is the way to break mom's heart," she said she told them. "This is not what I want."

And Gotti said she believes they understand why. "I think they've seen the trial and error," she said. This is not something for them."

Thanks to GMA

Saturday, September 26, 2009

John Gotti, Father and Godfather

For the first time ever, John Gotti's children, Angel, Victoria and Peter, speak openly about a life shrouded in secrecy and reveal what they knew about the mafia in an exclusive interview with "48 Hours Mystery" correspondent Troy Roberts.

"I loved the man… but I loathed the life, his lifestyle," said Victoria Gotti. "Prosecutors say my father was the biggest crime boss in the nation... If you really want to know what John Gotti was like, you need to talk to my family. We lived this life…

"I think I realized early on that my family wasn't like other families…
Growing up, my parents tried to hide a lot of things from me…from all of us…

"I think you grow up scared, anxious all the time…" she said.

"I used to get up as a young boy and I used to get excited when I would go and see that my father was alive," said Peter Gotti. "When I would hear him snore, I’d know he made it home."

"We didn’t talk back to my father. We didn’t ask him, 'Did you kill anyone?'" said Angel Gotti.

"I didn’t know his life…I didn’t know his lifestyle," said Peter. "Honestly, I was just a kid that wanted to love his father."

"The public saw my father right out of central casting. He looked the part, acted the part… he was the part! The real life Godfather," said Victoria. "People treat him like he was the second coming of Christ!

"It was very difficult for me to look into these crimes that he was accused of committing… I was angry at everybody for lying to me," she said.

"Do I believe now that my father was this big boss? Yes, I do now," Angel concedes.

"Should I lie and say I don’t love him? We loved him. And that's really all we should have been held accountable for. We just wanna move on," said Victoria.

Now, their brother, John "Junior" Gotti, is on trial again. If convicted, he could face life behind bars.

"My brother John’s life is on the line…like my father. John was a player in that world… but John is not in that courtroom," said Victoria. "I believe that it’s the last name Gotti. It’s definitely Dad."

"It does not mean that a child has to answer for his father’s sins," said Peter.

"Now it’s time to set the record straight," said Victoria. "No one knows John Gotti better than his family does. Nobody. And we’re ready to talk about it. We’re ready to talk about him… finally.

They are images the public has never seen before: the private, treasured photographs and home videos belonging to the children of mob boss John Gotti - a man who once ran the largest organized crime syndicate in the country; a man convicted of multiple counts of murder.

"You don’t want to believe it. And when you love that person, it makes it so much more hard," said Victoria Gotti.

For the first time, the Mafia chieftain's daughters, Victoria and Angel, and his son, Peter, are talking openly about the life they’ve always kept secret… and no question is off limits.

"How difficult is it to accept that your own father either directly or indirectly killed people?" correspondent Troy Roberts asked John Gotti's youngest daughter.

"When you choose that life, I think you know what you're signing on for…," Victoria said. "I think he knew going in what was expected of him. What he would have to do. What it would cost him. And I don't think he cared. I think that all goes along with that life."

"Why do you call it the life?" asked Roberts.
"Because, mostly it’s called the life," Victoria replied.
"No one ever says, 'I’m in the mob?'" Roberts asked.
"No. It’s always the life."

Victoria has never spoken about "the life" publicly, but in her new book, "This Family of Mine: What It Was Like Growing Up Gotti," she's finally talking about what it was really like growing up Gotti.

When asked why she decided now to write a tell-all, she said, "It got personal. I woke up one day and said, 'Enough's enough.' There were so many things that had to be addressed as far as rumors, lies, gossip."

Victoria talked to her father about the possibility of writing a book before he died.

"'If you ever write that book,' he said, 'You write it as your life. One thing I ask that you do… Don't you ever look to make me out to be an altar boy, because I wasn't.'"

But when Victoria and her siblings were children, it's clear that John Gotti never wanted them to know that side of him.

"He just took everything to another extreme," said Gotti's youngest son, Peter. "I remember getting excited about going to see the Christmas tree in Rockefeller Center. He would talk for a half an hour, 45 minutes, about how he just wanted to get them chestnuts. You can't even find roasted chestnuts anymore. But he was so excited he would talk like a little kid."

"He was a very funny. People don't know that. He was very funny," said Angel, Gotti's firstborn. But mixed in with the fun, were the lies - like what he told his children he did for a living. "He told me that he worked in a construction crew. I asked where he was going and he would say he was off to somewhere to build a school or a building," Victoria told Roberts.

They believed him, but the truth was that all John Gotti had ever wanted to be was a mobster. He had grown up one of 11 children - raised in Brooklyn by an abusive father and an overwhelmed mother. He quickly embraced a life of crime and violence, working for local gangsters and building a rap sheet.

"This is where he came from," Victoria explained. "These men were the men that were respected. This was something he saw early on and made up his mind that this was what he was going to do. This is what he was going to be. And he never saw anything wrong in that."

In 1958, the future Don was in a local bar where he met Victoria DiGiorgio. He was instantly smitten. Their affair produced a daughter, Angel, and in 1962, they were married. Gotti didn't earn much as a low-level mobster, and they struggled, "facing eviction month, after month, after month," according to Victoria.

Later that year, Victoria was born.

"Mom went into labor unexpectantly. I was early," she explained. "Mom, she said, 'They basically said to your father, "You can come back and pick up mother and child when you pay up the bill." At that time they didn’t have any monies. He comes back late, late that night - literally broke into the hospital. He scooped me up. He helped my mother down the stairs. They hobbled out. They had a good 13-block walk, it was freezing. They had no money for a cab or a bus ride and years later, my dad swore we bonded during that walk."

Two years later, the Gotti's son, John, was born, followed by Frankie. Despite the needs of his growing family, Gotti spent most of his time out of the house, getting into trouble. Victoria said her parents often fought over money and that her mother "was always fearful of the uncertainty."

In 1969, Victoria was just starting grade school, when her father was convicted for hijacking cargo from Kennedy airport and was sent to a federal penitentiary in Pennsylvania for three years. As strange as it sounds, his children had no idea their father was in prison, even when they went to visit him.

"We used to go to prison to see him, and my uncle would be in the same prison. And we really didn't know that he was in prison," Angel told Roberts.

She explained that her mother told the children their father was working. "I remember driving to Pennsylvania. And there would be the big, giant wall. And we’d say, you know, 'Why is that wall… Oh! He built that wall.' I said, 'Wow, he built that big wall.' [And we'd ask] 'And Uncle Angelo, too?' 'Yeah.' We believed it."

When they were home in Brooklyn, Victoria tried to be just like all the other kids. But at the age of 7, she finally found out the truth about her father.

"I went to school and we had to write an essay [about] who our heroes were. And most kids chose their fathers. And I wrote like the other kids, you know, my dad is a construction worker and he builds tall buildings. So I took my place in the front of the room and I started to read this report. And there was a young girl in the back. She yells out, 'Her father’s not, you know, a construction worker. Her father’s a jailbird. He’s in jail.' She had heard it from her parents at the dinner table. She blurted everything that she could out. The fact that he had gone to jail before, that he wasn’t coming home. I remember just standing there in front of that room. It was like, 'Wow - what is she talking about?'' But it made sense to me. And I remember the class laughing at me and I got so upset, so nervous that I just peed on the floor. I'll never forget the teacher. She made me, in front of the kids, get on my hands and knees and clean up the mess."

Victoria asked her mother for the truth.

"I said to her something like, 'Is Daddy really in jail?' She had said to me, 'Sometimes people do bad things. Sometimes they need to pay for these things that they do.' And I remember looking at her and saying, 'Where’s my father? Is he in jail or is he working?' And she looked at me and she said, 'He is in jail.' And those words, I remember they just haunted me for days, nights, weeks, months. All I kept hearing was my mother's words, 'He is in jail.'"

The charade was finally over.

Learning that her father was in jail was Victoria Gotti's first indication that he lived a secret life. "I would lay awake nights and cry a lot thinking, is my dad gonna come home? Is he gonna go to jail again? Is he going to get killed?"

She was right to be afraid. Outside the home, John Gotti lived in a violent world.

In 1973, Gotti was sent to do a personal favor for the Godfather himself, Carlo Gambino. His orders: find the man thought to be involved in the kidnapping and murder of his nephew. At Snoopes Bar in Staten Island, Gotti and his partners confronted James McBratney, who was shot and killed. Although he was not the triggerman, Gotti went to prison, this time for attempted manslaughter.

By the time Victoria reached her early teens, her father had been incarcerated or on the lam for nearly half her life. But the McBratney hit was a big break in Gotti’s career. When he was released from prison in 1977, he was officially inducted into "the life," becoming a made man in the Mafia.

"He had earned his way. He had earned his keep," Victoria explained. "And that really started the rise in that life."

Living that life meant more time spent out of the house, either in his headquarters, called a social club, or out on the town. Gotti’s wife, Victoria, didn't like it one bit.

"She would do crazy things, my mother. One time she sent his armoire to his club," Angel told Roberts.

"As if to say don’t come back?" he asked. "Yeah, 'Here's your clothes, take them.'"

When they weren't fighting, the Gottis were enjoying the fruits of his newfound status. They were now living at a house in Howard Beach, Queens. Angel was 18 when she first got an inkling of how others really saw her father.

"I was dating someone from Ozone Park. He says to me, 'You know - your father’s really, he’s feared. He’s the toughest guy in this neighborhood.' And I’m like, "OK."

All the Gotti children - even Peter, the youngest - would have a moment when they discovered their father had a reputation.

"I was 12 years old. I remember I had a crush and I asked her out. And she said, to me, 'I would love to go with you. But my dad said I'm not allowed. Your family are very bad people,'" he told Roberts. "And, when I had gotten home I had started to cry. My mother told me, 'Peter, I'm telling you right now, your father loves you more than life. You forget all the nonsense and things they're saying; you remember that man would give his life for you. OK? And don't ever forget that.'"

But John Gotti couldn't protect his family from tragedy. In March 1980, 12-year-old Frankie, who Gotti affectionately called "Frankie Boy," was struck by a car while riding a mini bike.

"My sister called me and said, 'Frankie Boy got hit by a car,'" Angel said, tearing up at the memory. "I said, 'Mom, stay in the house. I just have to go and check on Frankie Boy.' And then we went there. And you know, [he's] lying in the street in front of my friend’s house."

Frankie died later that night.

"Dad walked in and then I remember he sat down and I remember he cradled his head in his hands and he lost it," Victoria said.

The driver of the car was the Gotti’s backyard neighbor, John Favara. Victoria claims Favara hit Frankie because Favara was driving erratically.

"He didn’t stop. He had gone to the end of the block and the neighbors were screaming. And he got out of the car and he was very upset. And he started to scream, 'What the f - was he doing in the street to begin with. Whose f-in' kid is this?'"

Police called it an accident, but Victoria was furious with what she says she heard about Favara's callous behavior, and she spoke to her father about it.

"I looked at him and I said, 'You’re supposed to be a tough guy. How can you let somebody kill my brother?' And he just looked at me and he said, 'You know, honey, it was an accident.' And I said, 'No it wasn’t.' And Dad didn’t want to believe it. He looked at me and he said, 'You're wrong, you’re angry. You’re wrong.'

"For the first time, I was so angry at my father that his life - if he could ever be this man when I really needed it, when I really wanted it - I think if ever I could have him be this man that he said he was. It would have been the moment because…"

"You wanted revenge?" asked Roberts.

"I wanted revenge. I was so upset and I thought our lives would never be the same again."

The tragedy sent their mother into a suicidal depression that left her practically bedridden for a year.

That July, John Gotti tried to brighten his wife's spirits by taking the family to Florida. Just three days later, John Favara was abducted as he left his job at a furniture store. Witnesses say several men hit him over the head, forced him into a van and drove off. Favara was never heard from again.

"Four months after your brother was killed John Favara disappeared. Is your father responsible?" Roberts asked Victoria.

"No," she replied.

"How can you be so sure? Did you ask him?"

"I'm positive he wasn't responsible."

"I just can't imagine that this incident, this horrible, tragic accident that devastated your family and your father didn't want to exact revenge?" asked Roberts.

"No… he didn't."

"You were a teenager. Your mother attempted suicide," Roberts continued.

"I'm with you. I'm with you," said Victoria. "I couldn't understand why, either. It angered me."

"I know what my father said, that it was an accident," said Angel. "That's what he said."

When asked by Roberts if it ever entered her mind that perhaps her father was behind that disappearance she replied, "Sometimes. I'm being honest. Sometimes."

Victoria believes her father's mob associates took it upon themselves to exact revenge.

"Do I believe someone in Dad's circle did it? I do. Somebody did it and they thought they'd be celebrated."

Favara's body has never been found. And police never made an arrest in the case. In the years after Frankie’s death, the Gottis struggled to get back to a normal life. Angel met, and then married, her boyfriend.

A year later, it was Victoria's turn.

"I think I was just a kid in a hurry to get out of my father's house quickly," she said.

"You had 1,500 [wedding] guests," Roberts noted. "That's a lot of thank you notes."

"A lot of people to greet," she said. "I didn't know half of the people at my wedding. More than half. I didn't know them. They weren't there for me. They were there for Dad… and I remember thinking something's up."

Little did Victoria know, but the groundwork for her father's ascension to Boss of Bosses was being laid. She danced that night not just with her father, but with the future Godfather.

"He was gonna become a leader. He wasn't gonna be a follower. He was gonna rise to the top," Victoria Gotti said of her father's ambition. "He was gonna make it."

On Dec. 16, 1985, at 5:25 p.m., John Gotti did just that. In a hail of bullets, his fortunes - and the fortunes of his unsuspecting family - changed forever.

It was widely reported that Gotti orchestrated one of the most famous mob murders in New York City history - the hit on his boss Paul Castellano and Gambino No. 2 man Thomas Bilotti.

"Gotti showed a lot of sophistication in engineering almost a flawless assassination of Castellano," said Selwyn Raab, a reporter who has covered the mob for more than 40 years and is a CBS News consultant.

Within days of the murder, Raab said it was no secret John Gotti was the new Godfather.

"After Castellano's murder, Gotti showed up at one of the most important mafia hangouts in New York, the Ravenite Club in Little Italy. And people were kissing his hand. And people were going over and fawning over him."

But back in Howard Beach, Queens, the family had no idea had what was going on.

"And my mother says, 'You're not gonna believe this.' And she was laughing. And she said, 'They have your father now as the boss.' And I said, 'The boss?' And she said, "The boss of the Gambino crime family.' And we all started laughing," Angel said. "We really thought it was funny. I thought it was a big, like - 'Oh, my God - like what are they gonna say next?'"

Peter was in the fifth grade when he learned his father ran the Gambino crime family.

"It was 1985. I had gone to school one morning and we're sitting in class and current events came around. And there are my friends, kids I grew up with. They would parade up to the class, in front of the class, and talk about my dad as if I wasn't even sitting in the room," he told Roberts.

The kids were all talking about a story in the New York Daily News. The headline read, "New Godfather Reported Heading Gambino Gang."

"'John Gotti's the new boss of the Gambinos,' that's what the article said. And, needless to say," Peter continued, "I went on home and I cut that article out of a newspaper. Without my mother knowing. Without my dad knowing. Without anybody knowing. And I still… to this very day, have that article."

Even before John Gotti became the boss of the Gambino crime family, he had brought his oldest son, John Junior, into the family business. It was a secret not even his mother knew about.

"John saw dad driving the fancy car and having these guys look up to him like he was God," said Victoria. And on Christmas Eve 1988, in a secret ceremony, John Junior became a made man.

"I have to wonder if John saw this as a way to just get our father's approval or to somehow make him proud," she said.

The family business was doing pretty well. According to investigators, during the 80s the Gambino crime family grossed about $500 million a year and Gotti himself was getting a pretty big cut. The family says they didn’t see it.

"He didn't move, he didn't go out and buy a huge house somewhere," Victoria told Roberts. "I'm not saying he didn't have it, but he didn't spend it."

"Investigators say he made between $10 to $12 million," Roberts pointed out.

"Oh, yeah, and investigators also say that… he left us $200 million buried somewhere in the backyard," Victoria responded. "I'm still trying to find that money. Investigators say. You tell me where the money is. I'm still lookin'."

But one look at John Gotti told another story.

"He was now wearing custom-made silk suits. I mean, he had monogrammed socks, only cashmere coats," said Raab. "He was now going to the chic restaurants in New York, nightclubs."

Gotti often stayed out all night, had a reputation as a womanizer and was a compulsive gambler.

Peter said his father loved to gamble. ""His way of bonding with me was to watch a ball game with me. Here I was, seven, eight years old. He's askin' my opinion on who I liked to win a college football game."

"Did you help him win? Roberts asked.

"Obviously, not. Because he didn't win much," Peter said with a laugh. But John Gotti made sure his family life was always separate from his work life.

"It sounds odd to people, they don’t understand it," said Angel. "We're not like 'The Sopranos.' We didn’t sit at the dinner table and you curse… we didn't ask him, you know, 'Did you kill anyone?' We didn't ask him those questions."

But if the family didn't want to ask him any questions, the government certainly did.

Raab said, "He was an emperor, he was a titan. He had this attitude, 'Come and get me if you can.'"

In the first five years of his reign, John Gotti was put on trial three times: for assault, for racketeering and for ordering the shooting of a union boss. And in each of those trials, Gotti beat the rap. What no one knew was he had bribed a juror, intimated a witness, and had a crooked cop on the inside.

Gotti's celebrity grew with each victory.

"They just couldn't seem to get enough of him," said Victoria.

John Gotti became a celebrity attracting celebrity. In an Italian restaurant in Little Italy, the Gambino Godfather met actor Marlon Brando, the Hollywood Godfather, and invited him to his social club across the street.

According to Victoria, "Brando was telling jokes all night and doing magic tricks. Dad was doing what he does best, telling stories. And they just enjoyed each other's company."

John Gotti's growing fame was a double-edged sword: he had become the most notorious mobster since Al Capone and he put himself squarely in the sights of the FBI.

"This is going to be very bad," Victoria said. "I was always terrified."

"I think he saw there was no happy ending," Victoria Gotti told Troy Roberts. "I think he knew that one day he was either gonna spend the rest of his life in jail or he was gonna end up dead."

John Gotti knew the FBI was never going to let up. He suspected they had bugged his headquarters in Little Italy, the Ravenite Social Club.

"He didn't trust the atmosphere in general, so he would get up and walk outside, and constantly walk around the block with someone. He didn't want to be recorded," Victoria explained. But someone was listening.

The FBI had placed bugs everywhere-in the club, in the apartment Gotti occasionally used upstairs, and even on the street. They gathered hundreds of hours of recordings of mob business.

The tapes led to Gotti's arrest in December 1990. He faced a litany of charges, including the murder of Paul Castellano.

"There's no question the government had a strong case," said reporter Selwyn Raab. "It was his own words. He talks about five murders. About Castellano, Bilotti. He talks about three other people and the reasons why they were killed."

But the government didn't just have tapes - they had a star witness: Gotti's right-hand man, his underboss in the Gambino crime family, Sammy "the Bull" Gravano.

"Sammy Gravano, you know, dots the I's and crosses the T's," said Raab. "Gravano was the icing on the cake. He made it easier for them."

Sammy Gravano, a self-confessed mafia hit man who admitted to taking part in 19 murders, turned on his former boss and made a deal with the government. He took the stand and told the court that John Gotti planned and organized the hit on Paul Castellano and that he and John Gotti were actually there went it went down.

"Sammy told a lot of lies," said Victoria.

Roberts asked her, "Did your father orchestrate the assassination of Paul Castellano?"

"Absolutely not," she replied. "No one man is that powerful in this organization. Not one man."

In her book, Victoria claims the assassination was a plan agreed upon by mafia bosses.

"I'm not arguing that he had no part in it, and I'm not arguing and saying he wasn't the boss after it. He was. Nobody can stand there and tell me that he did it alone."

But that's not what the jury said. On April 2, 1992, John Gotti was found guilty on all counts. And he was the only person ever tried and convicted for the murder of Paul Castellano.

Seventeen years ago, as a local reporter in New York, Roberts talked to Victoria just hours after her father was convicted.

"Victoria what did you think of the verdict?" Roberts asked in 1992.

"My father is the last of the Mohicans. They don't make men like him anymore, and they never will," she replied.

"I knew that I've lost my father. I knew that was it," she tells Roberts in 2009. "It was as if somebody had told me my father had died. And that's how I felt that day."

John Gotti was sent to the Federal Penitentiary in Marion, Illinois, for life.

"The man was never coming home," said Peter Gotti. "I believed the day would never come where I would be able to hug my father again, you know. I had trained myself to believe that that's it. I'm gonna visit my father behind glass for the rest of my life."

Peter was 18 years old when his father was put in solitary confinement.

"My dad had 6,000 meals alone. Ain't never ate with… he ate meals in his cell. And again, I’m not justifying anything. Just saying… he paid. He paid the piper."

Roberts asked Peter, "I'm curious to know why you did not follow in your father's footsteps. You're the only Gotti man to not do so."

"Did it ever dawn on you that my dad shielded me from it? And my brother enforced it even more. He did everything he can, he did everything he can to prevent me. Everything he can. He tried to screen every person I'm socializing with."

At the same time he was protecting Peter, John Junior was rising in the ranks of the Gambino crime family, becoming the acting boss when his father went to prison.

"When did you learn that your brother was in the mafia? Roberts asked Angel Gotti.

"When he got arrested," she replied.

John Junior was arrested in 1998, for extortion, loan sharking and gambling. His mother was caught completely by surprise. For 10 years, her oldest son had been a mobster and then acting boss of the Gambino crime family. And she never knew it.

"You know, John is her life. And she was not standing for it," Victoria said. "And she had such distaste for the fact that Dad was involved and now her son."

Mrs. Gotti believed her husband had lied to her, betrayed her trust and put John Junior in grave danger.

"She wasn't speaking to my father when he was in prison for a while." Angel said, "It caused a lot of problems for all of us."

John Junior was in grave danger; he was facing 20 years in prison and he was thinking of making a deal.

In a prison tape recorded in February 1999, and obtained exclusively by "48 Hours Mystery," John Junior asks his father's permission to take a plea.

"I don't love you John, I adore you," John Gotti told his son.

"I know you do," John Junior replied. "You understand my circumstance."

After some discussion, the Godfather reluctantly consented.

"John, I am not saying don't take this plea if you get what you want. As a father... I want you to be happy," John Gotti said. But John Junior wanted more from his father. According to Victoria, he also asked for permission to quit the mob. And Victoria says her mother decided to get involved.

"Mom goes to see Dad and Mom threatens Dad. And she says, 'Either you release him or… I'll never speak to you again. I won't be here anymore. You'll never see me in your life again.'"

When John Junior went to prison in September 1999, Victoria claims he left the mafia. Federal prosecutors didn't believe it. But her brother wasn't the only one Victoria says had secretly joined the mob. Her husband was also a Gambino member.

It was yet another secret she says her father had kept from her.

"I was angry at my ex-husband, at my father. I was angry at everybody. This isn't what I wanted for my life, for my kids," she said. But her anger would fade with time as her father grew gravely ill.

"He just looked at me and said, 'I'm never gonna be around forever.' And, of course, I knew that. And I said to him, "Yeah, I know, Dad. You know, whatever." But then he looked at me again and he said, 'I think it's time.'"

Ten years into his life sentence, John Joseph Gotti, the Godfather of the Gambino crime family, father of five and grandfather of 15, died of cancer. The last days of his life were spent in a prison hospital with his son, Peter, at his side.

"I watched this for six months. He never admitted or denied anything," said his youngest child. "That's what was funny about his personality. You know… his was [a] 'Hey, hey, hey, you mind your business,' type of personality. 'Let me pay with God.' And he did… In the end, he did."

To his family John Gotti was a fallen hero, to the public he was the last Don, but for his mob family he was a disaster. At the end of his reign, the Gambino crime family was decimated - more than half of the leadership was either dead or behind bars.

"I think about the devastation that this life has had on your family, on the Gotti men. Your father, your brother, three uncles are all incarcerated," Roberts said to Victoria.

"Yep. And a husband," she added. And "the life" continues to take its toll on the Gotti family.

John Junior Gotti is back in court facing a new round of charges. But Victoria says the government's case is about the past, not the present.

"My brother is not in that courtroom. It is my father, always, all over again, day in, day out. It's about John Gotti. That's what it's about."

The Gotti family claims the government is persecuting John Junior and that he quit the mob years ago. The government says John Junior is a killer and that he did not quit.

"They don't want to believe it," Victoria said. "John's attitude is, 'I paid for what I did in that life. I gave them my pound of flesh.'"

Now divorced, Victoria's life is focused on her three sons. They were the infamous bad boys of the TV show "Growing Up Gotti."

Today, the boys are all in college and Victoria isn’t worried that they will take up "the life."

"If they wanted to break my heart, they can do that. They know that. But, they know better."

For years, there have been questions about the multimillion-dollar mansion that Victoria and her sons still live in. Where did she get the money to buy it?

"My ex-husband certainly started this family, helped to build this house. Everything I own to this day came from me. Never my father," she told Roberts. "It came from legitimate money. I'm not in the mob, you know?"

Prosecutors investigated whether the house was bought with mob money, but found no evidence that it was.

Victoria is determined that her sons will not follow their father - and her father - into the mafia.

"Never a discussion about that," she said. "If they wanted to break my heart and go against everything I stand for, they can do that. They know that. But they know better."

John Gotti's grandchildren have decided, it seems, they don’t want to remember the Godfather… just their grandfather.

"I love my grandfather to death. He taught me everything I need to know," said John Gotti Agnello. Victoria's middle child, named after his grandfather, made him a promise just before he died. Could law school be in his future?

"You know what? I promised my grandfather a long time ago that I would do it. I wrote a personal letter to him on his funeral. I put it in his pocket that I would do it for him."

Carmine, Victoria's oldest son, is an aspiring musician who wrote a song about his family.

"I've been recording now in the studio for the past two and a half - almost three years. I mean, it's been a lot of work. Five days a week throughout the year. Everything's comin' together."

But John Gotti's children are still trying to figure out what it all meant-their father’s mob life; the death of their brother; the disappearance of their neighbor; the hit on Paul Castellano; the trials; prison; brothers and husbands in jail.

At the end, Peter Gotti says, his father was refusing medical care.

"I believe in my heart that it went around a full circle, 'cause I believe in the end, that he was punishing himself for the things he may have done. And… I feel for anyone if there was pain caused by him or not. I feel regret and sadness for that."

Hear more from Peter Gotti

For Victoria, the circle closed at her father's funeral.

"I remember sitting there. I was the last to get up. And I remember getting so angry and so angry and so angry. And just saying to him, 'What was this all for? What did you do? Look at you. Look at the life that you lived. Look at us. You loved us most in the world. Look at us. What was this all for?' And I walked out of there so angry. And I'm still angry. I don't understand it and I guess I never will."

Thanks to 48 Hours

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Judge Denies Junior Gotti's Request to Delay Racketeering Trial Due to Kidney Stones

A Manhattan federal judge doesn't want to hear anymore of John A. (Junior) Gotti'sJudge Denies Junior Gotti's Request to Delay Racketeering Trial Due to Kidney Stones whining about his kidney stones.

Judge Kevin Castel on Tuesday rejected Gotti's request to delay the Sept. 14 start of the mob scion's racketeering trial for 45 days.

Castel was not moved by lawyer Charles Carnesi's claim that Gotti hasn't been allowed to speak to his attorneys by phone from a Brooklyn federal lockup.

"This reality, coupled with the fact that Mr. Gotti suffered from the agonizing pain of kidney stones for six months, which severely affected ... his ability to concentrate on trial preparation, support the necessity for a trial date extension," Carnesi wrote.

Earlier this month, Carnesi called it "cruel and unusual punishment" that Gotti was locked up without medical treatment for kidney stone infections.

"It is common knowledge that the pain associated with kidney stones is worse than childbirth," his lawyers claimed.

Carnesi claims Castel's decision to refuse Gotti taxpayer funds to pay for a defense investigator has hampered his ability to dig up background evidence to impeach the credibility of the government's witnesses.

Gotti is accused in a decades-long conspiracy that includes three gangland slayings in the 1980s.

Thanks to Thomas Zambito

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Junior Gotti Denied Bail

Accused Mafia boss John "Junior" Gotti was denied bail by a federal judge on Wednesday in a setback two months before he faces his fourth trial in five years on federal racketeering charges.

Gotti, 45, was tried three times previously on racketeering charges including that he headed the Gambino crime family. The most recent was in 2006 when a judge declared a mistrial because jurors were deadlocked.

Two previous trials also were voided when juries failed to reach a verdict.

In Wednesday's bail arguments held in Manhattan federal court, U.S. District Judge Kevin Castel sided with prosecutors who argued that a history of witness tampering meant Gotti should remain in jail pending trial.

Prosecutor Elie Honig said new evidence not presented at previous trials included a mob associate who will testify that in 2005 Gotti said they could escape criminal charges by pretending they had quit the crime family and had already received the "mob stamp of approval" to fake a withdrawal.

Gotti's lawyer Charles Carnesi said he will again argue that Gotti withdrew from the Mafia, a unique defense that has proved instrumental to Gotti winning the three mistrials. "It is absolutely not a different case. It charges the same crimes," Carnesi said, arguing the case should be dropped.

Gotti is accused of taking control of the Gambino family from his father, John J. Gotti, who was known as the "Teflon Don" for his many years evading criminal conviction.

The elder Gotti was finally convicted of murder, racketeering, conspiracy and other charges in 1992. He died in prison in 2002.

"Junior" is accused of murder, robbery, kidnapping, extortion and bribery from 1983 to 2008. His trial is scheduled to begin September 14.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Foreclosure for The Mafia Princess, Victoria Gotti?

The Mafia Princess may soon be thrown out of her castle.

Victoria Gotti is a deadbeat on the mortgage for her mansion in Old Westbury, L.I., which was prominently featured in the TV series "Growing Up Gotti."

The daughter of the late Gambino crime boss owes JPMorgan Chase about $650,000 and hasn't made a payment in two years, court papers say.

A four-judge panel of the Brooklyn Appellate Division has granted the lender's motion for summary judgment on the foreclosure and the appointment of a referee to report whether the six-acre property can be sold in one parcel.

Gotti blamed the financial mess on her ex-husband Carmine Agnello, who she says took a $856,000 loan against the home without her knowledge.

She became the sole owner of the home in 2004 and the mortgage went into default while she and Agnello "were involved in a bitter matrimonial action," court papers say. Agnello pleaded guilty to racketeering in 2004. "I won a house that was a booby prize riddled with debt," Gotti told the Daily News.

Agnello was sprung from prison earlier this year after serving about eight years .

Gotti said he still hasn't paid court-ordered alimony or child support for his three sons although he's living large with his new wife in a tony suburb in Ohio. "He still owes the federal government nearly $10 million and yet they still allow him to live this way?" she said.

When their middle son expressed a desire to attend law school, Agnello responded, "'Wow, I'm proud of him, but I have no money,'" Gotti said.

The Long Island mansion, with six bedrooms and seven bathrooms, is on the market for $3 million - marked down from $4 million. It's an eyesore in the exclusive enclave, in need of a fresh paint job and landscaping. The yearly tax bill for the compound, which includes a stable and pond, is $92,000.

Gotti says she staved off a scheduled foreclosure sale in 2005 by agreeing to pay JPMorgan Chase $50,000 up front and $25,000 a month. Gotti made several payments and then stopped, which prompted the bank to declare her in default again.

The appellate court's decision reversed a lower court decision in 2007 that said foreclosure proceedings were premature at the time.

Agnello's lawyer, Scott Leemon, declined comment.

Victoria's brother John Jr., who is facing trial in the fall on murder and racketeering charges, is also beset by money woes. A federal judge shot down the mob scion's bid for taxpayer money for his legal defense.

Thanks to Lisa Colangelo and John Marzulli

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Victoria Gotti Shouts Out in Court

The mother of John "Junior" Gotti interrupted a hearing on her son's racketeering case Friday by telling a federal judge that the government is trying to kill him before he even gets to trial.

"Why don't you just hang him now!" Victoria Gotti shouted from the spectator section of a room in U.S. District Court in Manhattan.

She spoke out after Judge Kevin P. Castel asked lawyers at the end of the pretrial hearing whether there were any other matters to address.

"Excuse me, you honor, may I speak?" she asked as she stood up. "I'm his mother." The judge asked if she was a party to the proceedings. When she said she was not, he told her she could not speak.

Still, she asked him what he thought about perjury - a reference to claims a mob turncoat made that he had slept with her daughter, also named Victoria, the former star of the reality TV series "Growing up Gotti."

Then she made the reference to the hanging of her son and added: "They're trying to kill him before trial!"

Outside court she passed out copies of a lie detector test in which the younger Victoria Gotti said she never slept with the turncoat, John Alite, a Gambino organized crime family associate.

She also told reporters that the government was trying to ruin her daughter's reputation in pursuit of a conviction of Gotti, 44. "This trial is rigged before he sets foot in it," she said.

Before Victoria Gotti's outburst, the judge had rejected Gotti's request to have a public defender added to the case to assist his lawyer, Charles Carnesi. Castel said his review of Gotti's assets left him doubting he would qualify for a lawyer at taxpayer expense.

Carnesi said three trials for Gotti had taken a toll on the family's finances, forcing him to take out a $250,000 loan at 14 percent interest. Carnesi explained the high interest rate, saying: "Mr. Gotti's name, for better or worse, is a well known name which causes lenders pause before they're willing to make a loan to him."

He said Gotti had to spend $75,000 of the loan toward credit cards that have been used to pay the family's living expenses.

Carnesi told the judge he will file papers asking that the latest indictment be thrown out. He said the charges brought in August were "from my view, basically the same indictment" as Gotti's previous three trials. Prosecutors have said Gotti assumed control of the powerful Gambino family after his father's 1992 conviction on racketeering and murder charges. His father died in prison.

The current indictment accuses Gotti of involvement in three slayings in the late 1980s and early 1990s and of possessing and trafficking more than 5 kilograms of cocaine.

Gotti is being held at a federal lockup in Brooklyn. He has been tried three times in Manhattan on racketeering charges for an alleged plot to kidnap Guardian Angels founder Curtis Sliwa. Trials in 2005 and 2006 ended in hung juries and mistrials after Gotti's lawyers argued he had long since retired from organized crime.

Federal prosecutors announced after the third trial that they were giving up.

The hearing Friday was attended by Sliwa, who wore his red Guardian Angels jacket.

Sliwa, who testified at the earlier trials about the kidnapping attempt, which left him with bullet wounds and continuing injuries, said he won't be satisfied until Gotti "follows his father to hell without an asbestos suit."

He noted that Castel is different from the judge who presided over Gotti's earlier trials and suggested it will make a difference in the outcome.

"He's got a tough judge, a no-nonsense judge," Sliwa said. "He's been stripped of his Guardian Angel."

Thanks to TBO

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Charles Carneglia Trial Goes to the Jury

The five-week-long racketeering conspiracy trial of reputed Gambino family executioner Charles Carneglia is expected to go to the jury today after closing arguments this week in which the defense argued for acquittal because their client's decision to grow a beard years ago - a Mafia no-no - proved that he left the mob then.

"He had a big bushy beard. He wanted his statement to be loud and clear," said defense lawyer Curtis Farber. "The beard was an act of defiance."

Carneglia, 62, is charged with murdering five men - including a court officer and an armored car driver - along with extortion, robbery, kidnapping, pump-and-dump stock schemes and marijuana trafficking in a criminal career dating back at least three decades. If he withdrew from the mob more than five years before his February 2008 indictment, his participation in the crimes would fall outside the statute of limitations.

The defense said Carneglia, who still sports a salt-and-pepper beard, left in 2001 because he didn't like the behavior of younger mobsters and was emotionally drained. But prosecutors said the only way out of the mob is to die, citing jailhouse recordings to show he has remained involved.

Prosecutor Roger Burlingame noted testimony that Carneglia once praised mobster Vincent "Chin" Gigante for being "smart" to act like he was crazy, and said the beard was a similar ruse.

"He is trying to trick you into being the water that washes the blood of five people off of his hands," Burlingame told the jury. "Don't buy it."

The government relied heavily on testimony from more than a half-dozen mob turncoats who have cut deals, including one, John Alite, who is expected to be a key witness at the trial of John Gotti Jr. this fall. Carneglia's lawyer attacked them as unreliable "sociopaths, men who wouldn't know the truth if it hit them in the face.

Thanks to John Riley

Monday, March 09, 2009

American Mafia in a Pathetic State Thanks to "Rats"

Anyone looking for evidence of the pathetic state of America's once mighty Mafia could find it last week in one of Brooklyn's federal courtrooms.

On the defence bench, a bespectacled 62-year-old man in scruffy green sweater and grey trousers sat impassively as an alleged former workmate, a fellow hitman in New York's Gambino crime family, spilled the beans on everything from the murderousness of its menfolk to the infidelity of its women.

The trial of Charles Carneglia for five murders and racketeering charges has been electrified by the evidence of John Alite, a self-confessed assassin for the Gambino clan and their ruling family, the Gottis, who has "ratted" on his old friends.

Alite's lurid succession of claims included that John Gotti Jnr ordered a string of murders, that he (Alite) had an affair with Gotti's married sister, Victoria, and that two police officers helped in at least one of the Gambino murders.

If he sang like the proverbial canary, so too have dozens more New York Mafiosi. Guest appearances by former mobsters, turned state witness in order to secure a lenient sentence, are par for the course in Mafia trials nowadays.

The old days of "omerta", the code of silence that once bound members together and made prosecutions very difficult, were well and truly over.

"The Mafia began as a secret organisation but if you look at it now, you couldn't find a more 'un-secret' organisation," said Rick Porrello, a writer on the Mafia and a police chief in suburban Cleveland, Ohio. "It's hard to think of a major case that doesn't have a high-ranking Mafia witness for the prosecution, and these cases rely on them," he said.

Jim Margolin, a New York FBI special agent, said: "I'm sure the next prospective co-operator will be thinking: 'Well, why shouldn't I if the alternative is going to jail for 40 years.' The more others do it, the less loyalty there is to the family."

Mr Porrello also puts this down to the fact that, from the 1980s onwards, the Mafia was no longer run by the "street-hardened" gangsters of the mob's golden years but by their less disciplined offspring.

There is an old Mafia saying that "the family is only as strong as its boss". As soon as Gotti Snr was jailed and his son, not yet 30, took over, the Gambinos were eclipsed as New York's most powerful mob family.

In a conversation recorded by the FBI, "Junior" was heard complaining about the Mafia life and questioning the love of a father who would "put me with all these wolves".

Indeed, Alite claimed in court that he and Carneglia had plotted to murder "Junior" because they believed he was too "soft" to lead the Gambino family.

A witness protection programme, which proved that it could protect people who turned, was also crucial in encouraging mobsters to co-operate. In the past, they usually ended up dead.

Despite the stream of successful prosecutions, Mafia watchers say the families are still operating, albeit on a smaller scale and often in less serious crimes such as loan sharking and credit card fraud.

Mr Margolin said there was still an FBI squad devoted to each of the five New York crime families -- Bonanno, Genovese, Colombo and Lucchese and Gambino -- and "they're all busy".

"We're not at the point of declaring victory over the Cosa Nostra," he said.

Thanks to Tom Leonard

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Tampa Gambino Case to be Tried in New York

Five men who were arrested last year at the same time as John "Junior" Gotti will join him in New York after a judge today ordered their trial to take place there.

The men, including Tampa resident James Cadicamo, had asked that their racketeering case be moved to New York because the majority of the crimes they are accused of happened in or near that city.

The other defendants in the case, all from the New York area, are John A. Burke, David D'Arpino, Michael D. Finnerty and Guy T. Peden.

The prosecution argued that the case should be tried in Tampa because important aspects of the conspiracy were centered in Florida.

The prosecution contends the defendants were a faction of the Gambino organized crime family that tried to gain a foothold in Florida. The indictment, however, also detailed murders, robberies and drug crimes in New York and New Jersey.

U.S. District Judge Steven D. Merryday, who previously ordered Gotti's trial be transferred to New York, again sided with the defense and ordered the related case also be transferred.

In a 19-page order, Merryday wrote that New York and the surrounding areas are "the undoubted 'nerve center' of the enterprise and the locus of the enterprise's malefactions."

Thanks to Elaine Silvestrini

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Gotti Family and Police Embarrassed by Testimony of Star Witness at Reputed Mafia Assassin's Trial

The murder trial of a reputed Mafia assassin has become an embarrassment for both the family of late mob boss John Gotti and police, thanks to sensational testimony by the government's star witness.

John Alite has linked his former best friend John "Junior" Gotti to a series of gangland slayings, boasted that he slept with reality television graduate Victoria Gotti and claimed two police officers were in on another hit. The defendant, Charles Carneglia, has dismissed the testimony against him as a betrayal by "rats" and "canaries."

Most of the singing at Carneglia's ongoing trial in Brooklyn has been done by Alite, a Gambino organized crime family associate who grew up wanting to be a made member but wasn't allowed to because he's Albanian, not Italian.

In several hours on the witness stand, Alite, 46, explained he was breaking a sacred rule by testifying: "Don't do what I'm doing _ ratting."

Victoria Gotti calls John Alite 'an insect' and says that 'he would hump a cockroach'He told jurors that he grew up in Queens wanting to be a mobster, and won the younger Gotti's admiration in the 1980s _ Gotti was best man at his wedding _ by dealing cocaine and kicking up a cut of the profits to Gotti, even though drugs were considered taboo in the family. He also described how he and Gotti's married sister were "seeing each other on the sneak" _ an allegation that prompted an angry denial by Victoria Gotti.

"He's an insect," the one-time star of "Growing up Gotti" told the Daily News. "He would hump a cockroach."

Alite also claimed that two lawmen _ a current Suffolk County officer and a retired New York Police Department detective _ gave him backup in the drive-by shooting of a rival drug dealer in 1988. He testified the NYPD officer was "involved in crimes for 20 years" and made millions of dollars. Suffolk County officials declined comment on Monday. The NYPD said it had no record of the officer named by Alite.

Alite's testimony at the Carneglia trial also offered a preview of the murder case against Gotti, who as pleaded not guilty to charges alleging he was involved in three slayings in the late 1980s and early 1990s and charges of possessing and trafficking more than 5 kilograms of cocaine.

Three previous trials in 2005 and 2006 ended in hung juries and mistrials after Gotti used the defense that he had quit the mob for good in the 1990s. His lawyers say the new allegations are based on cooperators who are lying to protect themselves.

Alite testified that a newly promoted Gotti drafted him for a hit on an associate who had dared to ignore one of his father's orders. The younger Gotti rose through the ranks while his famous father ruled the New York mob in the 1980s and '90s.

"It was his first job as a captain, and he wanted to get it right," the witness said.

Alite said he tried to track the target down in Atlantic City, N.J., but was pulled off the job when Gotti changed plans. Prosecutors say Carneglia gunned down the victim in the World Trade Center Parking lot in 1990.

The result left Gotti "elated," Alite said.

Alite also implicated Gotti in the other two killings prosecutors have charged he was involved in _ the slayings of two men in Queens amid drug turf disputes in 1988 and 1991. Alite said they were carried out on Gotti's say-so.

Carneglia was one of 62 people arrested last year in what authorities described as one of the largest roundups ever of suspected members and associates of a New York crime family. Since then, 60 have pleaded guilty to lesser charges, and one case was dropped.

Prosecutors allege Carneglia gunned down a court officer to prevent the officer's testimony against him in a 1976 weapon possession case. They say the trail of bodies also included that of a rival mobster stabbed to death in 1977 during a fight outside a diner, a Gambino associate killed in 1983 during an argument over money and an armored car security guard shot in the back during a heist in 1990.

The case has produced one of the gorier allegations to emerge recently in mob lore: that the body of John Favara _ a neighbor killed for accidentally running over the elder Gotti's 12-year-old son _ was dissolved in a vat of acid. Jurors have been allowed to hear testimony that Carneglia was involved in disposing of bodies, but not about the acid.

On Monday, a former NYPD detective who helped arrest Carneglia testified that the suspect ranted against cooperators saying, "I can't believe these rats and canaries," and fretted over possibly being put behind bars for life.

"I don't want to spend the next 30 years in jail," the witness quoted Carneglia as saying. "I'd rather get the needle."

Attorneys for Carneglia, 62, say the case against him hinges on flimsy, outdated evidence. They labeled cooperating gangsters such as Alite a collection of "thieves, murderers and liars."

The elder Gotti died behind bars in 2002, while serving a life term for racketeering and murder.

Thanks to Tom Hays

Sunday, March 01, 2009

Feds Charge Gambino Gangsters with Extorting Condo Tenants

Gambino gangsters controlled a condo board in Queens and extorted tens of thousands of dollars in bogus and inflated fees from owners when they tried to move, the feds say.

Testifying at the trial of reputed hit man Charles Carneglia, former residents of the Greentree Condominiums in Ozone Park said they were slammed with steep last-minute charges for "failure to comply with condo bylaws."

Federal prosecutors allege Carneglia conspired with several mob associates on the board - including local Realtor Joseph Panzarella Sr. and former president Robert Porto - to gouge the residents.

The Greentree development features attached and unattached townhouses which range in price from about $250,000 to more than $400,000.

Right before he was due to close on the sale of his two-bedroom duplex in 2001, UPS driver Joseph Mauro said he was blind-sided with a $47,517.47 bill from the board for fees and fines he supposedly owed.

The fines included $6,000 for "animal excrement thrown from the balcony daily" from 1996 to 2001, nearly $9,000 in water and sewer assessment fees and $1,792 for "collection of" water and sewer assessment fees.

"Were you ever told that your tenants were throwing animal excrement off the balcony?" asked Assistant U.S. Attorney Evan Morris.

Mauro said there were never any prior complaints about his tenants' dog. He said the "violations" began in 1996, the year he was voted off the board after having replaced a maintenance company the government contends was operated by a reputed Gambino associate.

Brian Crowley, a carpenter foreman married to an NYPD officer, testified that not long after he bought Mauro's condo for $240,000, he ran into problems with Porto.

"I went to ask him questions about elections and tax-revenue papers that are supposed to be given to us as owners... He had mentioned that I should stop asking so many questions because I was involving more people in my questions," Crowley explained.

Even Gambino associate Kevin McMahon - a member of Carneglia's crew and once considered boss John Gotti's good luck charm - claims he, too, was scammed by Greentree officials.

The feds on Thursday played a taped 2000 conversation intercepted from McMahon's cell phone in which he bitterly complained about Panzarella hitting him with a $2,000 water bill when he was selling his apartment.

"He's gonna die, that pr--," McMahon said. "He's dying and I can't wait. I'm gonna go to the funeral and laugh. Go stick the water bill under his f-- neck."

McMahon, a turncoat witness, testified that he bought his Greentree condo from Gotti's son, John A. (Junior) Gotti.

Only Carneglia has been charged in the shakedown scheme, which the feds say operated from at least 1999 to 2004.

Panzarella Sr. is deceased; his son Joseph Panzarella Jr., also described as a Gambino associate, declined to comment, said his lawyer, Jessie James Burke.

Thanks to John Marzulli

"Rat" Admits to Intent to Kill Junior Gotti for Going Soft

John Alite, who has accused his former best friend of involvement in the drugs trade and in several murders, told a federal court in Brooklyn that he intended to kill the alleged Mob boss because he believed he had gone "soft".

He broke the Mafia's code of silence ahead of giving full testimony in Mr Gotti's trial later this year. The alleged head of New York's Gambino crime family has pleaded not guilty to murder charges and cocaine trafficking

Mr Alite, has admitted he is a "rat" for agreeing to participate in the trial, claims to have become friends with Mr Gotti after sharing profits with him from the drugs trade in the 1980s. But his Albanian origins and lacking Sicilian blood meant that he could never rise up the ranks to become a "made man".

He claimed that when he was refused permission to kill Mr Gotti's brother in law for beating up his wife - with whom Mr Alite had a relationship - he decided to kill Mr Gotti instead. "I didn't trust his leadership," said Mr Alite said. "I thought he was weak - soft."

He then plotted with Charles Carneglia, an alleged hit man now on trial for murder, to kill the alleged mob boss.

In 1995, Mr Carneglia is alleged to have given Mr Alite a machinegun and told him to "take care" of Mr Gotti. But the hit was later cancelled.

Mr Alite's evidence was given during an appearance as a prosecution witness at Mr Carneglia's murder trial, which is separate to Mr Gotti's.

Thanks to the Telegraph

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Did Victoria Gotti Have an Affair with Key Witness Against Her Brother?

Before he became a mob rat, Gambino associate John Alite says he was a horndog who had a secret affair with Mafia princess Victoria Gotti.

Alite took center stage Monday in Brooklyn Federal Court in the murder trial of reputed hit man Charles Carneglia, but much of his testimony was about how close he was to John A. (Junior) Gotti - and the mob scion's older sister.

Did Victoria Gotti Have an Affair with Key Witness Against Her Brother?"I was fooling around with his sister Vicky Gotti on the sneak," Alite said, roughly fixing the time frame in the late 1980s, when she was married to her then-husband, Carmine Agnello.

Alite said the husband came after him and he ended up shooting one of Agnello's goons. Alite said Junior refused to give him permission to retaliate against Agnello.

Reached for comment, Victoria Gotti ridiculed the heavily-tattooed thug's claim of a tryst with her. "He's an out-and-out liar - he's vermin," she said. "This animal [Alite] had a crush on me from the first time I met him. He was in our bridal party and he tried to kiss me at my wedding. He missed the cheek by a lot.

"Carmine knew he had a crush on me. That's why he despised him.

"In Mr. Alite's dreams would someone like me even give him a second glance let alone 'fool around' with him. I was raised a good Catholic girl and always played by the rules.

"I met and married my first and only boyfriend. I never slept with Alite or anyone else.

"Dare him to take a lie detector test. I will take a lie detector test anytime, anywhere."

Alite said Junior Gotti's refusal to approve a retaliatory strike against Agnello was one of the reasons their close friendship broke up.

Under questioning by Assistant U.S. Attorney Roger Burlingame, the witness said he grew up around gangsters in Woodhaven, Queens, and had a promising future at one time as a baseball pitcher.

He said he threw out his arm after one semester at the University of Tampa and returned to his old stomping grounds selling cocaine in bars on Jamaica Ave. in Queens.

Alite met Junior Gotti in the early 1980s and began paying him a cut of his $1 million-a-month drug profits. He said he and Junior were best friends for a decade. After rival drug dealers robbed an associate, Junior Gotti accompanied them on a drive-by in which two of the rivals were shot, he testified. "After that [Junior] didn't look at me like some college kid no more," Alite said.

Getting close to the younger Gotti was Alite's opening to the Mafia big leagues. They became inseparable, and Junior and his late father, Gambino crime boss John Gotti, reaped the profits of Alite's litany of crimes.

"You name it, we did it," Alite said.

Alite was Albanian, so he could never be inducted into the Gambino family, but he had his own crew, as did two other non-Italian, uniquely powerful mob associates - James (Jimmy the Gent) Burke and Joseph (Joe) Watts.

On Feb. 14, 1988, Junior Gotti was best man at Alite's wedding in Queens. The date was selected not because it was Valentine's Day, but as a sign of respect for Junior because it was his birthday.

Wearing a gray sweat suit, the heavily tattooed thug said Junior's bad-mouthing of his other close friends left him feeling it was only a matter of time before he would be left out in the cold, too.

"I didn't believe in the life," Alite said. "It's kind of like reading a brochure when you're a kid. You're going to Paradise Island and everything looks nice, but you forgot to read the fine print."

Thanks to John Marzulli

Junior Gotti Ordered Rivals Shot, Former Best Friend, John Alite, Testifies

The former best friend of John A. "Junior" Gotti says that the famous mob offspring collected drug money and ordered shootings of rivals.

Gambino crime family associate John Alite testified about Gotti's alleged misdeeds on Monday at the Brooklyn trial of a Gambino soldier accused of murder. Alite took the stand as part of a plea deal.

He told the jury that on orders from Gotti, he drove a car used in a drive-by shooting in the 1980s. He also claimed Gotti, son of notorious Gambino boss John Gotti, collected monthly cash payments from a drug-dealing operation.

Alite is expected to be a key government witness when Gotti goes on trial later this year. Gotti is charged with involvement in three gangland murders and cocaine trafficking.

Thanks to Newsday

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