The Chicago Syndicate: Michael DiLeonardo
Showing posts with label Michael DiLeonardo. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Michael DiLeonardo. Show all posts

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Did "Sammy the Bull" Spare Junior Gotti to Save His Own Son?

John A. (Junior) Gotti's role in a 1990 rubout at the World Trade Center was a gangland secret for years because of a "son for a son" deal between his father and a Mafia turncoat, a government witness revealed Monday.

Before federal prosecutors charged Junior last year with the murder of Gambino soldier Louis DiBono, the mob scion's name had never surfaced in connection with the hit ordered by John Gotti Sr.

That's because infamous turncoat Salvatore (Sammy Bull) Gravano - who implicated the Dapper Don, underboss Frank Locascio and others in the murder conspiracy - never fingered Junior, and apparently with good reason, according to former capo Michael (Mikey Scars) DiLeonardo.

"Guys were going away for a long time and others were being left out. It was a mystery," DiLeonardo said Monday at the racketeering trial of reputed soldier Charles Carneglia in Brooklyn Federal Court.

Gambino capo Edward Garafola - Gravano's brother-in-law - provided the answer about a year after the murder, DiLeonardo said.

Although Gravano sent scores of Gambinos to prison, he spared Junior in a "son for a son" deal with Gotti Sr. in the hope that his own son, Gerard, would not be punished for his father's decision to break the Mafia oath of silence.

"It was the first time I learned that John Jr. was involved in the [DiBono] hit," DiLeonardo said.

Gotti Sr. was convicted in 1992 of ordering the murder of DiBono because he had ignored an order to meet with the crime boss when called.

Junior - who faces his own upcoming murder trial - assembled the hit team, prosecutors contend in court papers.

Carneglia is charged with sneaking up behind DiBono in the World Trade Center garage and pumping seven bullets into his head and body.

The reason Gravano did not implicate Carneglia at the time he fingered Gotti Sr. was not disclosed.

Although DiLeonardo has testified in 10 previous trials, he had not previously revealed the alleged son for a son deal. "It is implausible that after testifying against John [Jr.] three times, DiLeonardo suddenly remembered information about a murder charge," said Junior's attorney, Seth Ginsberg.

At the time he took the stand against the Teflon Don, Gravano was the highest ranking member of a Mafia family ever to cooperate with the feds.

Prosecutors ripped up Gravano's deal after he was caught trafficking Ecstasy pills with his wife, son and daughter in the witness protection program in Arizona. He is serving a 19-year sentence in the federal Supermax prison in Colorado. Gerard Gravano has nearly completed a nine-year term.

Thanks to John Marzulli

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Victoria Gotti Defends Her Brother, Junior Gotti

Just hours after John "Junior" Gotti was indicted on charges linking him to cocaine trafficking and three slayings, Victoria Gotti Victoria Gotti Defends Her Brotheris now coming to her brother's defense, speaking to CBS 2 in New York. She says the government is not just after her brother, but her entire family, and especially her father, despite his passing.

"It's obvious. If they could take my father out of the grave, and retry him and win again and again, they would," she said.

Once again, Victoria has to stand up for her brother, on the verge of yet another trial. Only this time, John A. Gotti will be tried for murder. Three murders, the government says. Two of the dead the feds say were allegedly part of drug deals with Gotti that go back 17 years ago. But a third, Louis Di Bono, was an associate of Gotti's father.

"What you have here is you have the Gambino crime family reaching out to Tampa, Florida, so you have a number of New York related gangsters and mobsters coming down to the Tampa area, and this indictment relates to their trying to get a foothold here," said Robert O'Neill of the U.S. Attorney's Office. But Victoria Gotti says there's more to the story than meets the eye.

"I don't know, I feel like saying, you know, it's this vendetta, but I'm so tired of hearing it myself from other people that you try to convince yourself its not, and you try to convince yourself these are supposed to be the good guys and it's just not working for me," she said. "If they were to come back at him, they would look like absolute fools," she said.

Victoria Gotti also said about the witnesses against her brother, like Mikey "Scars" DiLeonardo and Sammy Gravano, if they know so much, then what they were doing back then?

With charges as serious as murder, it wouldn't be surprising to find out that someone was wearing a wire and that there are tapes.

Watch the Pablo Guzman's entire video with Victoria Gotti.

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Sunday, May 13, 2007

Split Verdict for Skinny Dom

Friends of ours: Dominick "Skinny Dom" Pizzonia, Gambino Crime Family, Michael "Mikey Scars" DiLeonardo, John "Junior" Gotti, Bonanno Crime Family, Alfred Dicongilio

A federal jury convicted a 65-year-old mobster of racketeering and conspiring to murder a husband and wife stickup team who had been robbing Mafia clubhouses, but said the government had not proven he had actually killed the couple.

Dominick The ruling will spare Dominick "Skinny Dom" Pizzonia the possibility of a life sentence, but he could still get a lengthy prison term for his involvement in illegal gambling and the murder plot.

Prosecutors said Pizzonia, a reputed soldier in the Gambino organized crime family, was behind the slayings of Rosemarie and Thomas Uva. The couple were believed to have been humiliating the mob by ripping off card games at social clubs, usually armed with a submachine gun.

On Christmas Eve 1992, the Uvas were sitting in their car at a Queens intersection when they were each shot in the back of the head. The car rolled through the intersection and collided with another vehicle before it stopped; police officers found a stash of jewelry with the bloody corpses.

Prosecutors based their case against Pizzonia partly on testimony by Michael "Mikey Scars" DiLeonardo, a Gambino crime family soldier who has been cooperating with authorities for several years.

Pizzonia "was very angry, as everybody else was, that these guys had the nerve to go around robbing clubs, like committing suicide," DiLeonardo told the Brooklyn jury. The turncoat Gambino capo said then-acting Gambino boss John A. "Junior" Gotti sanctioned the slayings -- an allegation Gotti has denied.

Defense attorney Joseph R. Corozzo Jr. attacked the government for building its case on the word of admitted killers like DiLeonardo and suggested another crime family -- the Bonannos -- whacked the Uvas. Corozzo argued in his closing argument Wednesday that the evidence was too weak for a conviction.

Jurors in the case delivered a split verdict, finding that Pizzonia had engaged in illegal gambling and had been in on the murder conspiracy, but finding him not guilty of carrying out the killings.

At trial, the panel heard testimony that the couple had gambled with their lives by ripping off card games at a Queens social club operated by Pizzonia. Rosemarie Uva, 31, took the wheel of the getaway car, and Thomas Uva, 28, armed with an Uzi submachine gun, stripped patrons of their money and jewelry and made the men drop their pants, witnesses said. Their brazenness earned them the nicknames Bonnie and Clyde.

A second defendant in the racketeering case, Alfred Dicongilio, was also found to have been involved in gambling, but was acquitted and walked free because federal racketeering cases require that a person has engaged in more than one illegal act.

Thanks to CNN

Friday, May 04, 2007

Little Italy's Bonnie and Clyde were Gambino's Trophy

Friends of ours: Gambino Crime Family Bonanno Crime Family, Dominick "Skinny Dom" Pizzonia, Michael "Mikey Scars" DiLeonardo, John "Junior" Gotti, Joseph Massino

Thomas and Rosemarie Uva were not exactly criminal geniuses.

The couple liked to rob Mafia-run social clubs in Little Italy and elsewhere around the city, which, as just about everyone knows, is a really good way to get killed.

They even had the audacity to force mobsters to drop their pants as they swiped their cash and jewelry and cleaned out their card games.

The holdups proved predictably hazardous: The Uvas got whacked on Christmas Eve 1992.

Fifteen years later, the story of the bandits who made the stupid mistake of stealing from the mob is playing out at the trial of the man accused of murdering them, a reputed Gambino crime family captain named Dominick "Skinny Dom" Pizzonia.

"There's virtually no greater insult than robbing the Gambino family where they socialized and hung out," federal prosecutor Joey Lipton said last month in opening statements in Brooklyn.

Prosecutors claim that John A. "Junior" Gotti, while acting boss of the Gambino family once led by his father, sanctioned the killings -- a charge he has denied.

Pizzonia's attorney, Joseph R. Corozzo Jr., told the jurors they would hear testimony that members of the Bonanno crime family were the real culprits.
Mafia 'turncoats'

Corozzo noted that the government was relying on an unsavory cast of Mafia turncoats to make their case, including former Gambino capo Michael "Mikey Scars" DiLeonardo, who got his nickname as a child after a dog bit him in the face.

The case reflects a new willingness among several old-school gangsters -- some admitted killers like DiLeonardo -- to break the mob's vow of omerta, or silence, and help prosecute graying reputed gangsters like Pizzonia, 65, for crimes dating back decades.

In 2005, Bonanno boss Joseph "Big Joey" Massino stunned the underworld by becoming the first boss of one of New York's five Mafia families to flip.

Exactly why the Uvas gambled with their lives by robbing mobsters remains a mystery. But their former boss at a New York collection agency, Michael Schussel, offered some possible clues for resorting to making collections of a criminal kind.

Schussel testified that Thomas was a Mafia aficionado who asked for days off to attend the trial of the elder John Gotti, the Gambino don who died behind bars in 2002. The couple lived in Gotti's neighborhood in Ozone Park, Queens. "He was obsessed with the mob," the witness said.

Authorities say the Uvas began their robbery spree in 1991, apparently believing that social clubs -- home to high-stakes card games -- would provide an easy mark.

Rosemarie, 31, took the wheel of the getaway car and Thomas, 28, armed with an Uzi submachine gun, stripped patrons of their money and jewelry and made the men drop their pants. The couple became known on the street as Bonnie and Clyde.

The moonlighting was stressful: The day after one of the holdups made headlines, Rosemarie showed up for work looking pale and fainted to the floor, her ex-employer said.

By the time the Uvas had hit his Cafe Liberty in Queens a second time, Pizzonia had tired of their act, DiLeonardo testified.

Pizzonia "was very angry, as everybody else was, that these guys had the nerve to go around robbing clubs, like committing suicide," DiLeonardo said. A plan was hatched to track down the couple by getting their license plate number, he said.

On the morning of December 24, they were sitting in their Mercury Topaz at an intersection in Queens when they were each shot three times in the back of the head. The car rolled through the intersection and collided with another vehicle before it stopped; police officers found a stash of jewelry with the bloody corpses.

The killers vanished as mob bosses argued behind the scenes over who should get credit, DiLeonardo said. During a sitdown with his Bonanno counterpart Massino, the younger Gotti set the record straight.

The Bonnie-and-Clyde hit, Gotti said, was "our trophy."

Thanks to CNN

Friday, February 02, 2007

Toni Marie Ricci Can't Resist Gambinos

Friends of ours: Gambino Crime Family, Frank "Frankie Fap" Fappiano, Michael "Mikey Scars" DiLeonardo, Frank DeCicco, John "Dapper Don" Gotti, Junior Gotti
Friends of mine: Toni Marie Ricci, Kurt Ricci

Toni Marie Ricci was blessed with good looks, but she can't catch a break with men.

Toni Marie RicciHer husband was arrested this week, along with her cousin, in a federal roundup of alleged Gambino crime family members and associates. And the rest of the guys in this doll's life aren't exactly prizes.

Her ex-husband is a former Gambino gangster who turned out be more canary than lovebird, her brother is a Mafia rat, and one of her cousins died in a rubout.

"The men in her life have brought her some unhappiness," said Jean Marie Graziano, the lawyer for her current husband, Kurt Ricci. "But they have also brought her good things," Graziano said, referring to Toni Marie's 19-year-son from her first marriage. "Even with all that's gone on with her life, she's stronger and better for it."

Toni Marie's ex is former Gambino crime family capo Michael (Mikey Scars) DiLeonardo, an infamous turncoat.

Her brother Frank (Frankie Fap) Fappiano was a Gambino soldier before he started singing for the feds. And one of her cousins was Frank DeCicco, underboss to the late John Gotti. DeCicco was blown up in his car in 1986.

Toni Marie has only been married to her current husband for 11 months, but she's already had to bail him out.

Kurt Ricci, a reputed associate of the Gambino crime family, was charged with bank fraud. The indictment also charges Ricci's second cousin, reputed capo George DeCicco, 77, with racketeering.

The brunette looker lit up arraignment court as she signed a $300,000 bond secured by the couple's house in Staten Island to spring her hubby. Graziano denied that Kurt Ricci is mobbed up, and she staunchly defended the reputation of his 41-year-old bride.

For her part, Toni Marie has been candid about some of the tumult in her personal life.

In an interview last year with New York magazine, she recalled what happened when she learned Mikey Scars was having a love child with his mistress. "He handed me the phone, and I said to her, 'Where do you come off having this child? I'm married to this guy for 17 years.'

"She didn't answer. I said, 'What's the matter? You're not woman enough to answer?' He took the phone and hung it up. So I took the phone and hit him over the head with it."

But when Toni Marie testified last year at former Gambino boss John A. (Junior) Gotti's retrial, she played a little more coy. Peppered with questions about all her family ties to organized crime, she demurred. "I'm just a housewife and a mother," she said.

Thanks to John Marzulli

Friday, October 13, 2006

Dapper Don Instigated Bloody Mob War

Friends of ours: John "Dapper Don" Gotti, Gambino Crime Family, Colombo Crime Family, Carmine "The Snake" Persico, Michael "Mikey Scars" DiLeonardo, Alphonse "Allie Boy" Persico, Vic Orena, John "Junior" Gotti, William "Wild Bill" Cutolo

The late Gambino boss John Gotti instigated the bloody civil war within the Colombo crime family in a diabolical scheme to consolidate his power on the Mafia Commission, a turncoat witness testified yesterday. Gotti falsely branded jailed Colombo boss Carmine (The Snake) Persico "a rat" in an attempt to get him replaced by another Colombo gangster who was close to Gotti, according to former Gambino capo Michael (Mikey Scars) DiLeonardo.

DiLeonardo, testifying at the racketeering trial of Persico's son and acting boss Alphonse (Allie Boy) Persico, surprised Brooklyn Federal Judge Sterling Johnson when he matter-of-factly said that Gotti was behind the conflict that left a dozen gangsters dead and an innocent bystander slain outside a Brooklyn bagel shop in the early 1990s.

"John Sr. instigated it?" the judge asked the witness.

"Oh, yeah," DiLeonardo replied.

DiLeonardo explained Gotti's strategy this way: "John was close to Vic Orena and figured if he could get him in, and Allie out, he [Gotti] would have a majority vote on The Commission," DiLeonardo said. "He [Gotti] owned Vic Orena."

During the war, DiLeonardo said he accompanied John A. [Junior] Gotti to Rockaway Beach for secret late-night meetings with members of the Orena faction to try to iron out a settlement.

DiLeonardo said he thought that it was wrong that the Dapper Don had slurred the elder Persico's name. "Allie found out about it and wasn't happy," he recalled. "I told him it wasn't right and I set out to try and make things right."

Alphonse Persico is charged with ordering the 1999 murder of Colombo underboss - and Orena loyalist - William (Wild Bill) Cutolo.

Friday, August 25, 2006

Gotti Said To Break Mafia Vow During Meeting With Prosecutors

Friends of ours: John "Junior" Gotti, John "Dapper Don" Gotti, Daniel Marino, John "Johnny G" Gammarano, Gambino Crime Family, Salvatore "Sammy Bull" Gravano Michael "Mikey Scars" DiLeonardo, Genovese Crime Family, Luchese Crime Family, Paul Castellano, Peter Gotti, Frank DeCicco, Bartholemew "Bobby" Borriello, Edward Lino
Friends of mine: Joseph Watts


Mob prince John "Junior" Gotti broke his Mafia vow of omerta last year and used a pre-trial sitdown with federal prosecutors as an opportunity to settle some old scores with two of his father's former top lieutenants, Gang Land has learned.

Gotti has acknowledged the January 2005 secret session with the feds, but has maintained it was merely an effort to convince the feds of his innocence concerning the charges in the racketeering indictment.

He said he indignantly stomped out once he realized that prosecutors were seeking his cooperation. In a June 27 interview with the Daily News, he insisted he would never tell on his former crime cohorts, underscoring his own attitude about informing by quoting his late father's extreme views on the subject. "I could have robbed a church but I wouldn't admit to it if I had a steeple sticking out of my" rear end, Gotti said the Dapper Don had told him.

However, several sources confirmed to Gang Land that, in a failed bid to persuade prosecutors to drop their case against him, Gotti spilled old secrets about two "made men" and a Gambino crime family associate — all underlings of the elder John Gotti.

Junior fingered capo Daniel Marino, soldier John "Johnny G" Gammarano, and longtime associate Joseph Watts for numerous crimes that took place before 1999, when Junior Gotti has insisted he walked away from the Mafia life, sources said.

Gotti also allegedly gave the feds information about a crooked Queens cop who enabled him to beat one case during the 1980s, and a corrupt politician who was part of a land-grab scheme during the same time frame, sources said. Both men are deceased.

Despite Gotti's claims of retirement and his ultimate decision not to cooperate, any informant activity by the mob scion would be viewed as an abomination within his former realm, and equate him with the defectors who have testified against him and his late father. "If it's true, he's a rat, just like Sammy and Scars," an underworld source said, referring to the two major Gambino family defectors, former underboss Salvatore "Sammy Bull" Gravano and onetime capo Michael "Mikey Scars" DiLeonardo.

The disclosure about Gotti's discussions comes as his third trial stemming from the kidnap-shooting of Curtis Sliwa is under way in Manhattan Federal Court.The trial judge, Shira Scheindlin, has issued a gag order in the case and prosecutors and defense lawyers are prohibited from discussing it.

Gang Land's sources declined to discuss specifics that Junior gave the feds, but said he focused primarily on Marino, 65, a powerful family capo and longtime thorn in the side of the Dapper Don, and Watts, 64, once viewed as a possible FBI informer by the Junior Don and his cohorts. While informing about Marino, Gotti, almost as an afterthought, also related alleged criminal activity by Gammarano, 65, a soldier in Marino's crew, sources said.

Marino, who served six years behind bars for a murder conspiracy ordered by the elder Gotti, was released in 2000. Watts, who spent 10 years in prison for his involvement in the same plot and a separate tax case, was released from prison in May. Johnny G, who served three years for a labor racketeering scam in Brooklyn and a Joker Poker gambling machine scheme in New Orleans, has been back in action since 2002.

Gotti has had it out for Marino and Watts for years, a source said. "He's talked about killing them both," the source said. The Gotti faction has long believed that Marino was poised to take over the crime family in the early 1990s as part of a retaliation plot by the Genovese and Luchese families for the unsanctioned 1985 killing of Gambino boss Paul Castellano.

Even after Marino was incarcerated during the late 1990s, Junior, Mikey Scars, Peter Gotti, and other supporters of the then-jailed Dapper Don debated whether to kill Marino, according to FBI documents. The discussions revolved around suspicions that Marino may have had a role in the murders of Frank DeCicco, Bartholemew "Bobby" Borriello, and Edward Lino — all key allies of the elder Gotti — between 1986 and 1991.

In the early 1990s, according to testimony at Junior's second trial, Gotti had two gunmen waiting in the closet of a Brooklyn apartment ready to kill Marino and Johnny G and dispose of their remains in body bags after Junior suspected they had kept $400,000 in annual construction industry extortion payments that should have been forwarded to him. The plot was thwarted, probably intentionally, by Watts.

Watts, who would become the focus of rubout talk a few years later, had been instructed to bring Marino and Johnny G to a meeting that would end with their execution. But when Watts and the targeted mobsters arrived in a stretch limo along with another mobster and a driver, Junior aborted the plan, according to the testimony.

In 1994 and 1995, according to court documents, Junior discussed killing Watts when "rumors began to spread within the Gambino family that Watts might be cooperating" and Gotti feared that Watts and then-superstar witness Sammy Bull would be a "deadly combination" that would threaten the "survival of the Gottis and the Gambino family."

The nasty talk about Watts fizzled out after he pleaded guilty and went to prison. But Junior has long suspected that Watts, who referred to Junior as "Boss" whenever they met, had worn a wire against him, according to FBI documents. And, during his session with the feds, "Junior was quick to point a finger at him," a source said. Sources said Gotti did implicate himself, and a few longtime friends, in several crimes, but they took place too long ago to be used in an indictment.

Gotti denied any role in a 23-year-old murder, a crime for which there is no statute of limitations, sources said. He insisted that he did not kill Danny Silva, a 24-year-old Queens man who died from a knife wound during a wild melee in an Ozone Park bar when Junior was a rowdy and arrogant 19-year-old wannabe wiseguy. "He said he was there, but he said he had nothing to do with the stabbing," a source said.

As Gang Land reported in our first New York Sun column four years ago, a formerly reluctant witness has told authorities that he "personally saw Junior stab Danny Silva" and the police and FBI reopened the case with an eye toward charging Gotti with Silva's murder.

Thanks to Jerry Capeci of Gangland News

Friday, May 05, 2006

NY "Mafia" Firm is Closed

Friends of ours: Gambino Crime Family, Salvatore "Sammy the Bull" Gravano, Edward Garofola, Michael "Mickey Scars" DiLeonardo

New York City has ordered a mob-tainted construction company at the center of former NYPD Commissioner Bernard Kerik's bribe-taking probe to shut down because the owners "lacked character, honesty and integrity,". The Bloomberg administration's decision to deny permits for Interstate Materials Corp. to work within the five boroughs followed a ruling by the city's Business Integrity Commission that ripped into owners Peter and Frank DiTommaso, officials said.

According to officials, the BIC, formerly known as the Trade Waste Commission, quietly issued a "supplemental ruling" on Interstate's mob connections last fall that determined the company was not fit to do business in or with the city.

The commission also determined the DiTommasos bought the company from two major Gambino crime-family figures - Salvatore "Sammy Bull" Gravano's brother-in-law, Edward Garofola, and Michael "Mickey Scars" DiLeonardo - merely to help the mobsters "avoid regulatory scrutiny and preserve the mob's influence over the transfer station," commission Chairman Thomas McCormack wrote.

Nearly two months later, the city Sanitation Department yanked "temporary" permits allowing Interstate to operate its massive "clean-fill material" facility on Staten Island for the past 10 years. City officials also instructed Interstate that it had until New Year's Eve to shut down.

Interstate obtained a stay from the Richmond County Supreme Court challenging the edict. A final decision regarding the city's right to cut off Interstate is expected shortly, Sanitation Department spokesman Vito Turso said.

Meanwhile, in The Bronx, a grand jury is continuing to probe whether Interstate paid for nearly $200,000 worth of apartment renovations for Kerik, then city correction commissioner.

It is also investigating whether the firm hired his brother, Donald, and a one-time close friend, Lawrence Ray, in exchange for getting Kerik to go to bat with the Trade Waste Commission. Kerik and the DiTommasos have denied any wrongdoing.

Sources say the Bronx grand jury will be asked in two weeks to indict Kerik.

Thanks to Murray Weis

Thursday, March 09, 2006

In Break From Code, Gotti Women Soak Up Trial Spotlight

Friends of ours: Junior Gotti, John Gotti, Michael "Mikey Scars" DiLeonardo, Joseph D'Angelo, Gambino Crime Family
Friends of mine: Toni Marie Ricci

Call it the Soprano effect. To spectators at John A. Gotti's racketeering trial, it often seems as if life were imitating television, and that the airing of every intimate detail of the fictional mobster Tony Soprano's life has broken down a social code that once prevented real-life mobsters from exposing their private lives and peccadilloes, from girlfriends to illegitimate children, in public.

One of the prosecutors, Joon Kim, has led two turncoat mobsters, Michael DiLeonardo and Joseph D'Angelo, through recitations of their lives from blood oath to murder, with the calm, hypnotic manner of a psychoanalyst interrogating a patient. But it is probably the assertive presence of the Gotti women in United States District Court in Manhattan that has marked the biggest departure from Mafia tradition. "Women have always been considered an inferior element in the Mafia," says Selwyn Raab, a retired New York Times reporter who chronicled the lives of the Gottis in his book "Five Families: The Rise, Decline and Resurgence of America's Most Powerful Mafia Empires." "They are not supposed to intrude, not supposed to be involved in any way. One: to protect them. And two: that's the culture; that's the code."

Mr. Gotti's mother, Victoria, has attended every day of her son's trial since it began two weeks ago, and offered a window into the changing social mores of the mob.

Fifty, even 20 years ago, in the era depicted by the classic Godfather movies, Mafia wives and daughters were to be neither seen nor heard. But Mr. Gotti's trial has become more of a soap opera than the soaps, in which the Gotti women — led by Mr. Gotti's mother, but also joined by his sisters, Victoria and Angel, a niece named Victoria after her grandmother, and even the ex-wife of a Gambino captain — have played a central role.

Though the presence of Mafia wives at trials has not been unheard of in recent years, Mr. Raab said, Mrs. Gotti — the widow of John J. Gotti, celebrated as the Dapper Don and the Teflon Don before spending the last years of his life locked up in a maximum security penitentiary — never attended any of her husband's major trials. "He had four trials after he became boss, and she was never there," Mr. Raab said. Partly, he noted, that was because "they were on the outs," and she did not visit him in prison, either.

In this trial, however, which enters its third week today, the Gotti women have waged a public relations war for Mr. Gotti, speaking on his behalf outside of court, while he has focused on what goes on in the courtroom.

Every day, his mother and sister Angel have occupied center aisle seats in the second row, which is reserved for family members (both conventional relatives and the Cosa Nostra kind). Mr. Gotti's more flamboyant sister, Victoria, has appeared most days in the afternoon, drawing stares from tourists both because she resembles Donatella Versace, with hip-length blond tresses and flashy clothes, and because she is recognized as a novelist and hostess of the reality-TV show "Growing Up Gotti." (Mr. Gotti's wife, Kim, who is pregnant with their sixth child, has not attended.)

Lawyers said that in a trial that is something of a morality play, even Mr. Gotti's churchgoing could have an impact on the perception of the jury, since this jury includes several observant Catholics: On Ash Wednesday, five of the 16 jurors, including alternates, arrived in court for the morning session with their foreheads marked with black smudges. Mr. Gotti returned from lunch with ashes on his forehead.

On a recent day, a federal prosecutor led an F.B.I. agent through the list of people who visited Mr. Gotti while he was in prison. As the prosecutor ticked off the names, one by one, the agent identified them each as an "associate" of the Gambino crime family, qualifying a couple by adding "and lifelong friend."

The judge called a break, and Mr. Gotti's mother called to his lawyer, Charles Carnesi: "Hey, Charles. Did you tell them that I am an associate, and my daughter, too, and my granddaughter?"

It was a typically acerbic reaction for Mrs. Gotti, whose comments are not always appreciated. "Mom, please, I got this under control," Mr. Gotti protested another time.

The racketeering charges against Mr. Gotti are so diffuse that much of the court battle has focused not on the charges but on his private life. Besides, the charges against him — loan-sharking, extortion and kidnapping — are not nearly as serious as the murder charges that the two star prosecution witnesses have confessed to as part of their cooperation agreement with the government. In his defense, Mr. Gotti says he left the mob life years ago, when he realized how much it could hurt his wife and children.

The Gotti family has been particularly angered by testimony from Mr. DiLeonardo, the turncoat Gambino captain who said that Mr. Gotti dated a woman named Mindy during his marriage and that his father had a secret second family and a daughter out of wedlock.

Three days after Mr. DiLeonardo's testimony, the Gotti family called in reinforcements. John J. Gotti's oldest granddaughter, Victoria Gotti Albano, 18, arrived at the courthouse, saying, "We always stick together." Wearing a large necklace spelling out the word "princess," which she said her grandfather had given her, she sat between her mother, Angel, and grandmother for the rest of the week. Ms. Albano, a freshman at U.C.L.A., said she wanted to become a lawyer to avenge the wrongs she said the government had inflicted on her family. Her grandmother volunteered that the teenager's role model was Ron Kuby, a civil rights lawyer. Mrs. Gotti, who is, in the traditional mold, a Queens homemaker, is supportive of her granddaughter's career goals, even confiding in the hallway outside the courtroom that the idea of being called "Ms." Gotti appealed to her. "She's liberated," Mr. Raab said, not sounding 100 percent convinced.

The more traditional "Married to the Mob" role in this courtroom drama has been played by Mr. DiLeonardo's ex-wife, Toni Marie Ricci, who appeared as a defense witness to testify on the distress that her husband's infidelity caused her and their teenage son, Michael. Asked by prosecutors last week whether she knew that her ex-husband, her father, brother, uncle and cousin were all associated with the Gambino crime family, she replied that she was "just a housewife and mother" who did not concern herself with such things.

If Mrs. Gotti doesn't always adhere to type, Mr. Raab said, that may be because her ancestry is Russian on her mother's side. Her mixed antecedents were a problem when it came time for her son to be inducted into the Mafia, Mr. Raab said, because Mafia rules required both parents of a "made" member to be of Italian descent. The senior Gotti solved the problem by changing the rule to require patrilineal descent only, Mr. Raab said.

Mrs. Gotti seemed more outraged by what she saw as the prosecution's sanctimonious attitude than by the suggestion that her husband had had affairs, a rumor that, after all, had been alluded to in books and whispered by government agents. If the government was going to prosecute womanizers, she said, "we should hang all our presidents."

It was another remark worthy of a Soprano, although Mrs. Gotti was coy when asked whether she ever watched the show. "I really would love to because I think it's an entertaining program," she said. "But if there's a really good movie on, or "20-20," or something on the Discovery Channel, I would rather watch that."

Thanks to Anemona Hartocollis

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Real Dons Steal Sopranos Limelight

Friends of ours: John "Junior" Gotti, Vinny "Gorgeous" Basciano, Michael "Mikey Scars" DiLeonardo, Bonanno Crime Family, Lucchese Crime Family, John "Dapper Don" Gotti, Joseph Massino
Friends of mine: Louis Eppolito, Stephen Caracappa, Soprano Crime Family


While the acclaimed TV series bows out, New Yorkers are gripped by the drama of three real-life Mafia-linked trials

The final series of The Sopranos will go out on American TV a week today, beginning the last chapter of its epic chronicle of the lives, loves and murders of the nation's most famous Mob family. But one part of America does not have to wait with bated breath: New York. After all, who needs Tony Soprano and his fictional travails when real mafiosi such as John 'Junior' Gotti, Vinny 'Gorgeous' Basciano and Mikey 'Scars' DiLeonardo stalk the front pages.

In a throwback to the Mob's long-lost heyday, New York has gone Mafia-mad in the past week. No fewer than three high-profile trials are dominating the tabloid press and local TV stations, uncovering a mobster world of hitmen, assassinations and police corruption that even Tony Soprano's scriptwriters would have hesitated to invent.

Top of the heap is the dramatic trial of Gotti, alleged head of the Gambino crime family, whose father was known as the Dapper Don for his sharp suits and high profile on the social scene. Now the junior Gotti faces racketeering charges, including the kidnapping and attempted murder of Curtis Sliwa, a radio host and founder of the Guardian Angels crime-fighting volunteers. Another case involves Basciano, charged with killing one Mob associate and plotting the death of two others. He is alleged to be acting head of the Bonanno crime family. The third prosecution, set to start within weeks, has been called the 'Mafia cops' trial. It involves allegations that two top policemen, Louis Eppolito and Stephen Caracappa, worked as hitmen for the Lucchese crime family.

But it is the Gotti trial - with its mix of Mob glamour and death - that has grabbed attention. 'They can still draw a crowd,' said Jerry Capeci, who has written six books on the Mafia. Given the alleged crimes, that is no surprise. In one gripping piece of recent testimony Sliwa told how a gang killer tried to 'whack' him by shooting him in a taxi with its windows and doors rigged so they would not open. As he was travelling to work in Greenwich Village, a man suddenly popped up in the front seat, said 'Take this' and began shooting at him. Sliwa, bleeding from gunshot wounds that left him in hospital for two weeks, escaped by climbing through a broken car window as the taxi zig-zagged down the street.

In another of the trial's 'highlights', one witness, DiLeonardo, revealed that the late Dapper Don had fathered a child by a woman living on Staten Island. That triggered the sort of tabloid frenzy among gossip writers and paparazzi usually associated with Hollywood stars. The child was found to be a 19-year-old dental student. 'I feel bad for my daughter. It's 2006. We want to move on,' said her mother, Shannon Connelly.

The Gotti trial has been so highly publicised that tourists have been flocking to the Manhattan court for a dose of the real Sopranos. But all the court cases have exposed crimes that are hard to romanticise. Prosecutors say Basciano blasted one rival with a 12-gauge shotgun. The attack on Sliwa left him needing a colostomy bag after one bullet went through his intestines. There are drug rings, extortion, bribery and cold, hard killings: all revealed in sordid detail.

Yet the real story is that these cases have all been brought simultaneously, dealing what remains of the Mafia in New York a potentially fatal blow. The FBI and police have so successfully infiltrated the gangs over the past two decades that the Mob is a shadow of its former self. Many of the witnesses are turncoats from the highest levels of an organisation once thought impenetrable. The main evidence against Basciano comes from conversations taped by former don Joseph Massino, the first head of a Mafia family to wear a wire and betray his associates. Gotti's lawyer has used this as a defence, saying his client was born into the Mob family but wanted to leave due to the huge degree of betrayal. 'He saw a life where his father went to jail for the rest of his life, died locked away from his family, based on the testimony of a serial killer who was supposed to be his closest associate. He saw the treachery first hand,' said Charles Carnesi.

When it comes to the old values of silence and loyalty, it is other ethnic gangs in New York, such as the Russians and the Chinese Triads, who are far more of a criminal threat. Neighbourhoods dominated by Russians and Chinese are full of new immigrants vulnerable to gangs; meanwhile the Italians have moved to Long Island or New Jersey.

Yet despite the decline in the Mafia's power, it still dominates the headlines more than any other form of organised crime. That is far more to do with the media and Hollywood than reality. For the American love affair with the Mafia is one based on the entertainment industry.

Before the Gotti trial began last month the once-feared family's name had been best known recently for a tawdry reality TV show starring Gotti Junior's sister, Victoria, called Growing Up Gotti. It has been a steady decline from the Oscar-winning art of the Godfather movies to the high-class soap opera of The Sopranos and finally to reality television.

Tony Soprano would recognise that as a rule of the fictional gangsters: No one lives forever, everyone gets whacked in the end. Even, perhaps, the Mafia itself.

Thanks to Paul Harris

Monday, March 06, 2006

Kuby an Out for Junior?

Friends of ours: John "Junior" Gotti, John "Dapper Don" Gotti, Sammy "The Bull"Gravano, Michael "Mikey Scars" DiLeonardo

On-air rivals Curtis Sliwa & Ron Kuby will be on different sides in court, too. Now it's Curtis versus Kuby. Pony-tailed civil rights lawyer Ron Kuby has been called to testify for the defense in the trial of John A. (Junior) Gotti - the mob scion accused of ordering two thugs to attack Curtis Sliwa, Kuby's radio show partner.

"Usually I try to stay as far away from the witness stand as I can, unless I'm handing a witness a sheaf of papers," Kuby said yesterday. Kuby said his testimony likely will not involve snitching on his longtime partner but will focus on his past representation of mobsters. He joked that he doubted Gotti attorney Charles Carnesi would ask, "Well, Ron, is it true you wanted to kill him, too?"

For a decade, Kuby has played the liberal foil to Sliwa's conservative lock-up-the-bad-guys views on their WABC-AM talk show, "Curtis and Kuby in the Morning." In recent weeks, Kuby has counseled Sliwa to come across as more likable to jurors at Gotti's retrial so they won't leave the courtroom thinking "it's not a bad thing that you got shot." The result was a less-confrontational Sliwa in court.

The Guardian Angels founder told jurors this week how he leaped out the passenger side window of a cab as he was being fired on by a masked gunman who had popped out next to the driver from under the dashboard. Prosecutors say Gotti, 42, ordered the 1992 ambush to silence Sliwa's unrelenting rants against the Gotti family following the late Dapper Don John Gotti's federal murder conviction.

Kuby has represented Junior Gotti's former brother-in-law, Carmine Agnello, the ex-husband of Victoria Gotti, as well as other alleged low-level mobsters. His late mentor, William Kunstler, once represented the Dapper Don. Kuby was named as the target of a mob hit plan hatched by Salvatore (Sammy Bull) Gravano, according to the 2000 testimony of a Gravano associate arrested on drug charges in Arizona.

Gravano was upset with Kuby for representing the families of some of Gravano's 19 murder victims in a civil lawsuit. He planned to lure the lawyer to Texas where he would be gunned down, according to the testimony. After Kuby learned last weekend he might be called as a witness for Gotti, he said he purposely stayed away from the trial.

Prosecutors wrapped up Thursday. Much of their case rests on the testimony of mob snitch Michael (Mikey Scars) DiLeonardo, who has linked Gotti to the Sliwa kidnapping as well as to more than $1 million in construction extortion payoffs.

Gotti's first trial ended in a hung jury.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Randy Don's Rendez-Ruse

Friends of ours: John "Dapper Don" Gotti, Ed Grillo, Aniello "Neal" Dellacroce, Michael "Mikey Scars" DiLeonardo, John "Junior" Gotti

John Gotti would often send mob soldier Ed Grillo on assignments so the godfather could have sex romps with Grillo's wife, Shannon "Sandy" Connelly, in her Staten Island home. Dapper "Don Juan" Gotti had a racket going on to score time with his mistress - he'd send her mob-underling husband out on jobs so they could have sex in her home.

John Gotti found it was the easiest way to go to the mattress with Shannon "Sandy" Connelly, the buxom bride of Gambino soldier Ernest Grillo and the reputed mother of Gotti's teenage love child, sources said. "Gotti used to send Grillo out on assignments so he would know where he was," the source said yesterday, adding that the mob don blatantly used his authority to facilitate his adulterous affair. But even more shocking, authorities informed Grillo that the married mob boss was having sex with his wife, and the hard-headed soldier refused to turn on his Gambino crime family boss. He stoically shrugged off the news and kept his mouth shut.

Authorities were hoping to convince the Gambino soldier to testify against his criminal cohorts. At the time, authorities were keeping tabs on Grillo, and would see him drive away from his home on West Fingerboard Road in Staten Island on mob business. Minutes later, John would "pull up" and go inside, where Connelly was waiting, the source said. The Dapper Don spent "enough time to get what he had to get done," the source said. "He wasn't coming for cake and coffee."

The West Fingerboard home previously was owned by the late Aniello Dellacroce - the Gambino underboss who had been both stepfather to Connelly and a mentor to Gotti. The Grillos had two young daughters at the time, and Gotti had four living children with his own wife, Victoria.

Sources have told The Post that during Gotti's affair with his goumada, she became pregnant, and bore a third daughter in 1987. Authorities who later staked out Grillo's home "were amazed by the amount of people who were at the baby's christening - including John Gotti." And, "a lot of high-level mobsters were there," a source said, adding their presence was "very unusual." Because of their presence, investigators probing the Gambino family from then on assumed the Grillo's third child was actually fathered by Gotti.

Grillo was busted in 1988 and accused of running a racket on the Upper East Side with Gotti's approval. Prosecutors said Grillo's crew operated an illegal casino, took over an apartment house and forcibly opened a valet parking service at a chic nightclub. In April 1989, Grillo, now 49, pleaded guilty to state charges of enterprise corruption, which included the shooting death of a gangster named Kevin Hogan. He was sentenced to six to 18 years in prison, and released in
October 2000.

Gotti died in federal prison in 2002. Grillo, who is now divorced from Connelly, ran away from a reporter yesterday when approached at his Staten Island home. Connelly, 49, could not be reached for comment, but on Sunday said Gotti was just "a family friend," and said Grillo, not the Mafia don, had fathered her third daughter. "They're false allegations," she said of claims that she bore Gotti a bambina. But sources close to the family pointed out what is obvious to a reporter who saw that daughter at her Staten Island home - the college freshman looks different than her two older sisters, who both resemble each other.

While the older sisters' hair color mirrors their mother's auburn tresses, the youngest daughter's hair is black - just like the natural hair of Gotti's two legitimate daughters, Angel and Victoria. And the woman's dark eyebrows naturally arch in the same distinctive way as her purported dad, Gotti.

Gotti's philandering ways have made headlines in recent days after Gambino turncoat Michael "Mikey Scars" DiLeonardo testified that the don had had a Staten Island mistress who bore him a child. That woman, was someone else other than Connelly - meaning there are allegedly at least two illegitimate Gotti children from the borough.

Gotti's family originally scoffed at DiLeonardo's claim, which was made at the ongoing federal racketeering retrial of John "Junior" Gotti in Manhattan. DiLeonardo also has testified that Junior emulated his father by having a mistress named Mindy. But the Dapper Don's widow, Victoria, since has said that if DNA tests prove her husband fathered children out of wedlock, they would be welcomed by his legitimate family.

Mourning Good Guy Who Went After Wiseguys

Friends of ours: John Gotti, Peter Gotti, Michael "Mikey Scars" DiLeonardo, Junior Gotti

Federal mob investigator Kenneth McCabe scoured the death notices for the names of mobsters so he could be sure and pay his respects. Or he turned up at their weddings, where they'd greet him with a slice of cake and coffee that was always refused. For more than three decades, first as an NYPD detective and then with the U.S. attorney's office in Manhattan, McCabe deftly handled skittish government cooperators while charting the Mafia underworld's every move with his camera.

His work provided the backbone for dozens of successful prosecutions, including the late mob boss John Gotti and his brother Peter, that have left the city's Mafia families weakened to the point of extinction.

McCabe, 59, died last Sunday after a year-long battle with cancer.

His intense preparation and his shun-the-spotlight manner won the 6-foot, 6-inch former college basketball player the respect of colleagues - and of the mobsters he arrested. They would regularly counsel their attorneys not to ask McCabe a question when he took the witness stand, said former Manhattan U.S. Attorney David Kelley. "The mob is all about playing by the rules," said Kelley. "He didn't lie. He dealt with them fairly. They got arrested fair and square."

At his funeral Thursday at St. Thomas More Church in Breezy Point, Queens, a priest told the story of a wiseguy who ambled up to McCabe's car while he was conducting another surveillance. "You know, Kenny," he said. "I'm thinking of retiring. I'm getting too old for this." To which, McCabe replied: "Make sure it's someplace warm because I'm tired of freezing out here."

Mob informant Michael (Mikey Scars) DiLeonardo paid tribute to McCabe during his testimony at John A. (Junior) Gotti's federal kidnapping trial last week. Asked to identify a surveillance shot, DiLeonardo guessed that it was probably taken by McCabe. "He was relentless," DiLeonardo said.

McCabe was reared in Park Slope and attended Cathedral High School before playing power forward for Loyola College in Maryland.

His photographs allowed prosecutors to piece together mobster associations and link them together at key moments in a conspiracy. In some shots, smiling mobsters wave hello to McCabe.

Less known was McCabe's handling of wiseguys-turned-informants. "The cooperators had a tremendous amount of respect for him," Kelley said. "He didn't pull any punches. He told it like it was."

Thanks to Thomas Zambito

Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Gotti's Girl

Friends of ours: John "Dapper Don" Gotti, Gambino Crime Family, Aniello "Neal" Dellacroce, Junior Gotti, Michael "Mikey Scars" DiLeonardo, Ernesto Grillo

Sandy Grillo, yesterday on Staten Island, denies being the late John Gotti's paramour.

A woman who was one of the late mob don John Gotti's mistresses - and allegedly the mother of a secret love child - lives on Staten Island with her three daughters. Meet Shannon "Sandy" Grillo, the estranged wife of reputed Gambino associate Ernesto Grillo - and the woman who had an affair with the Dapper Don, according to several sources. She's now the center of speculation that she has a child by the dashing don.

Mrs. Grillo lives modestly with her mother, Rosemary - described as the companion of the late Gambino underboss Aniello Dellacroce - and three kids. She is separated from her husband, purported mobster Ernesto Grillo. Dellacroce was Gotti's mentor.

The bombshell secret love life of one of America's most notorious gangsters was first revealed in court Friday during the racketeering trial of Gotti's son John "Junior" Gotti.

Mob rat and star prosecution witness Michael "Mikey Scars" DiLeonardo claimed the younger Gotti told him "his father had a secret second family and a daughter he had fathered out of wedlock."

As The Post reported yesterday, sources said the older Gotti had two mistresses who both bore him children. Both secret families live on Staten Island. The second mistress had a daughter who is older than the one Gotti is purported to have had with Grillo, according to a knowledgeable source. And it was that second alleged Gotti paramour to whom Mikey Scars was referring at Junior's trial on Friday - an affair Scars knew about both from Junior and from another mobster, according to the source. The second woman's identity has not been disclosed.

As for the Grillo affair, Dellacroce, who was not Sandy Grillo's biological father, strongly disapproved of her relationship with Gotti, the source said. Dellacroce, then the No. 2 Gambino boss and Gotti's mentor, died in 1985.

"John Gotti became much more free-wheeling after Neil [Aniello] passed away in his personal and professional life," the source said. It was after Dellacroce's death that Gotti assassinated Gambino boss Paul Castellano, a move Dellacroce - who didn't like Castellano - would nonetheless have disapproved of, and prevented, if he were alive.

When approached at her home yesterday, the attractive, 50-year-old Grillo was asked: "Are you denying you had a relationship with John Gotti?" "Yes," she said politely, yet firmly.

Later, when one of Grillo's daughters was approached, she acknowledged her mom was Sandy Grillo. Asked if she had seen news accounts of Gotti's secret love life, she said: "No." "I don't know anything about this," she said, adding, "That's not true at all," when asked about an illicit affair and out-of-wedlock child involving her mom and Gotti.

The young woman said she lives with her mom, grandmother Rosemary and two other sisters. There's no hint any of the children in the household were treated as anything other than part of the Grillo household.

It's not the first time Sandy Grillo's name has been bandied about in connection with one of the most well-known members of New York's underworld. The salacious 2004 book "Il Dottore" recounts a mob doctor's first encounter with the Dapper Don Juan and Sandy Grillo: a house call to tend to an ulcer that hampered the couple's lovemaking.

In the book, the dutiful mob doc is summoned to Manhattan's Barbizon Plaza Hotel on June 15, 1984, to examine Gotti, who complained of stomach pain. "Beautiful broad like Sandy here . . . but a goddamned stomach turns itself inside out right when I'm about to make love to her like Rudolph Valentino," Gotti allegedly told the doctor.

A week later, a fellow mob doctor told the author: "An unspoken La Cosa Nostra rule is that a 'made' man, especially a capo like Gotti, is not supposed to violate another man's wife or children.

"In sleeping with Shannon Grillo, Gotti seems to be violating two sacred oaths with the same woman."

Mob Wife on Scar's Betrayal

Toni Marie Ricci knows all about husbands with secret families. Ricci says her ex - mob rat Michael "Mikey Scars" DiLeonardo, who told a jury last week that Mafia don John Gotti had a secret family and that "Junior" Gotti had a mistress - had secrets about everything. The secrets included his jobs, friends, mistress, out-of-wedlock son - even his phone number.

In an explosive interview in the upcoming issue of New York magazine, Ricci, detailed the turncoat's trail of lies and obsessions - calling him a "sicko" for dragging their college-age son into the middle of the high-profile mob trial, and railing at her ex-husband's secret family. "Michael was my life," Ricci told the magazine. "I did anything and everything possible to make the man happy. I never stopped and said to myself, 'You know, my husband is a gangster.' "Did I think anything? Yeah, I did. But did I talk to him about it? No. I guess I blocked it out."

Ricci, 19 when she married a 29-year-old DiLeonardo in 1985, was easily seduced by the perks of marrying into the mob. There were parties at "Sammy Bull's" house, Junior Gotti's wedding at the Helmsley Palace and an army of hangers-on. The glamour wore off. "I never had proof he was cheating, but I knew," she said.

"The first confrontation occurred in '95, '96. I got a job in a school in Mill Basin as an aide. I wanted to go to work; he never wanted me to. I came home one day and heard him upstairs on the phone in the bedroom, saying, 'I'll pick you up tonight. Just get dressed.' I ran up. 'Who were you talking to?' " He told her it was a male friend.

She said she started to think about leaving. Ricci said she tried without success for 12 years to have a second child, hoping it would patch up the couple's fraying marriage. In vitro failed her, but it worked fine for Scars' mistress, Madelina Fischetti.

"Right after that, he took the girl to get pregnant with the same procedures," she complained. Proof of its success came in December 2002. "We get a Christmas card: 'Congratulations to Michael and Madelina on their new baby boy - more to come.'

"I read this not even realizing what I am reading. Two seconds later it hits me, and I fell on the floor. This is a year after I tried to have another child with him. And I learn that he has a 6-month-old son. "He turned beet red: 'Someone's making up lies.' But I knew it was true as soon as I looked in his face."

She said she made her husband call his mistress at the apartment DiLeonardo rented for her on well-heeled Shore Road in Brooklyn. "He handed me the phone, and I said to her, 'Where do you come off having this child? I'm married to this guy for 17 years.' She didn't answer. I said, 'What's the matter? You're not woman enough to answer?' . . . He took the phone and hung it up. "So I took the phone and hit him over the head with it."

Monday, February 27, 2006

Dapper Don Juan's Double Life Exposed

Friends of ours: John "Dapper Don" Gotti, Gambino Crime Family, Junior Gotti, Michael "Mikey Scars" DiLeonardo

The tale of John Gotti's two other "families" infuriated widow Victoria. The late Gambino boss John "Dapper Don" Gotti led a stunning secret life - fathering a pair of illegitimate daughters with two different girlfriends, according to sources and bombshell testimony from a mob turncoat.

Few knew of Gotti's double life, but the infamous Mafia don confided in his son John "Junior" Gotti about the existence of one of his illegitimate daughters, according to star witness Michael "Mikey Scars" DiLeonardo. Recounting a conversation with his ex-pal, DiLeonardo said the younger Gotti told him "his father had a secret second family and a daughter he had fathered out of wedlock."

A source close to the case said the elder Gotti had more than one skeleton in his closet - he had a second illegitimate daughter with yet another girlfriend. Two sources said at least one of Gotti's extramarital families still lives on Staten Island.

DiLeonardo testified that the younger Gotti, a father of five with a sixth child on the way, admired and emulated his infamous father, and followed in his footsteps as both a mob leader - and a philanderer.

The stunning revelations emerged on the third day of DiLeonardo's testimony against the younger Gotti - the witness' former best friend - who is on trial for racketeering crimes he allegedly committed while his infamous father was behind bars. Although this is a retrial, none of the reported dalliances surfaced in previous testimony.

The late Mafia don's widow, Victoria Gotti, and daughter Angel reacted audibly in their seats in Manhattan federal court yesterday as the mob turncoat made his stunning revelation. "Oh boy, oh boy," exclaimed Angel, who is one of four surviving children that John and Victoria Gotti raised in Howard Beach, Queens.

The younger Gotti also gasped at the defense table yesterday as DiLeonardo described how both he and Junior both brought girlfriends to the witness' 40th-birthday celebration 10 years ago. "John, for a surprise, he got a yacht in Battery Park City," DiLeonardo testified. DiLeonardo, who was also married at the time, said a woman named Carla came as his date. "John had been going with this girlfriend named Mindy ... he knew from Howard Beach," DiLeonardo said. Gotti, 42, would have been married for between five and six years at the time.

Asked by Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael McGovern whether Gotti's wife, Kim, knew the woman, DiLeonardo said: "Kim knew Mindy. John had told me they grew up together." But DiLeonardo said Kim - who currently lives in an Oyster Bay, L.I., mansion with her husband and kids - did not know her husband was having an affair with her friend.

Outside of court, Victoria Gotti blasted the feds for hitting below the belt. "It's dirty politics as usual. It's nothing that we wouldn't expect," she said. Reacting to allegations about her late husband's secret life, Victoria said, "John Gotti was the most highly surveilled man in the country. "Does anyone think he could pull that off?"

The widow then sarcastically suggested a reunion between the legitimate and illegitimate kids. "Maybe the siblings have all the cash the government's talking about. I'd like my kids to meet them," Victoria said.

Gotti told reporters outside the courtroom he hasn't dated Mindy since about 20 years ago, when he was dating his wife but not yet married. "He's pulling names from the '80s," Gotti said.

McGovern was permitted to question the witness about Gotti's alleged transgressions after defense lawyer Charles Carnesi opened the door during cross-examination on Thursday. Carnesi had asked the witness if he and Gotti had a falling out in 1997 because Gotti disapproved of DiLeonardo's womanizing - an allegation the turncoat denied.

Gotti's defense hinges on the claim that he left the mob as early as 1998 to become a devoted husband and father - and wants nothing more than a fresh start with his wife and kids.

In cross-examination Thursday, Carnesi asked DiLeonardo, "You never had any conversations with [Gotti] prior to 1997 about the way you were acting out in the street - with regard to your relationships with other women?" "Never. He was with me all the time," said DiLeonardo, who claims his falling out with Gotti was over business. In earlier testimony, DiLeonardo admitted that he had secretly started a second family in 2000 after years of cheating on his first wife, Toni Marie, with whom he had a son, Michael. The witness said he made a conscious decision to get his girlfriend, Madeline, pregnant and bought her and her mother attached houses eight miles from his wife's Staten Island home. The double life was exposed in 2000, when DiLeonardo's wife received an anonymous card announcing the birth of DiLeonardo's son with his girlfriend. DiLeonardo subsequently divorced his wife and married Madeline. The two are now living together in the witness-protection program with their son, Anthony.

Under cross-examination, DiLeonardo described his bitterness when he went to prison and learned he had been "put on the shelf" by the mob. This meant he no longer was included in decision-making, was no longer getting money from his crew and wasn't given the respect in jail that is normally due a "wiseguy." "I felt no good deed goes unpunished," he said. "I was befuddled that I was stripped. I was upset about it."

Meanwhile, Victoria also threatened to sue anyone who claims that the Gotti family is attempting to tamper with the jury. On Monday, a woman was asked by a court officer to leave the courtroom after he noticed her writing notes that described one of the jurors as balding and in his 50s. The U.S. Marshals Service said it was looking into the matter. But the Gotti family identified the woman as Raquel, the best friend of Angel Gotti, Junior's sister - and said she was taking notes because she's a psychic. They said the woman correctly predicted the outcome of the previous trial. Victoria Gotti was outraged at the suggestion of jury tampering. "I will sue anyone who says those things about my family," she said.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Feds Get 2nd Shot at Junior

Friends of ours: Junior Gotti, Gambino Crime Family, Michael "Mikey Scars" DiLeonardo

After narrowly ducking a conviction that could have put him away for 30 years, John "Junior" Gotti faces a fresh showdown this week with federal prosecutors, who saw their star witnesses sliced up on the stand like fine prosciutto last time around. But a rematch of Gotti vs. the government won't be a simple replay of last year's trial, when a lone holdout juror derailed the bid to nail the ex-Gambino crime king for plotting to kidnap radio host Curtis Sliwa, loan sharking and extortion in the construction trade.

This time, there's a new attorney for Junior, along with fewer witnesses against him, pared-down charges - the first jury cleared him of securities fraud - and no co-defendants. And while Gotti will take center stage by himself, at least he can walk through the front door: Judge Shira Scheindlin sprung him on $7 million bail following the mistrial.

The 42-year-old son of the late godfather John Gotti has spent the last five months of freedom with his family - and preparing hard for the new trial, say sources close to him. His mother, Victoria, sister Angela, brother Peter and other family members are all expected to be in attendance as prosecutor Michael McGovern calls at least three key turncoat witnesses, including murderous mob rat Michael "Mikey Scars" DiLeonardo. In the first trial, DiLeonardo had a staredown with Gotti, his former pal, calling him "brother" and claiming that he thought of Gotti when he gulped pills in a failed suicide bid.

Cross-examining him will be Junior's new lawyer, Charles Carnesi, who repped Gotti's co-defendant Louis "Louie Black" Mariani in the first trial. Carnesi is expected to conduct the same grilling that Gotti's first-round lawyer, Jeffrey Lichtman, gave the witnesses, using their own lies and vile connduct to hammer at their credibility. "The main advantage Gotti has now is that every witness who testified against him was blown away on the stand," said Lichtman.

Gotti will claim again that he quit the mob in 1999 after pleading guilty to unrelated fraud charges. The new jury has seven men and five women - the reverse gender makeup of the last jury. This time around, four white males, three black males, two white females, two black females and a Hispanic woman will deliberate.

One thing won't change: the name of the defendant. "The Gotti name is still a stumbling block for any criminal defense," said Lichtman. "It just intimidates so many people."

Friday, September 09, 2005

Junior Gotti's Last Jab

A federal jury is set to begin deliberating the fate of John "Junior" Gotti after hearing a last word from his lawyer who argued yesterday that the once-powerful mob leader hung up his gangster hat so long ago he can't be convicted. Defense lawyer Jeffrey Lichtman claimed Gotti renounced the mob and defied his father when he pleaded guilty to unrelated racketeering charges in April 1999 and then harkened back to the secretly taped words of the late John "Dapper Don" Gotti.

"We've heard from John's father that Gottis don't plead guilty. They fight, fight, fight," Lichtman said.

Facing a string of charges that span the 1990s including the 1992 kidnap-shooting of radio host Curtis Sliwa, Gotti has hung his hopes on convincing jurors he exited the mob prior to the five-year statute of limitations. But Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael McGovern told jurors they should disregard Gotti's claims that he's a changed man.

"The evidence in this case has shown nothing could be further from the truth," he argued. "As recently as 2002, he was continuing to stuff his pockets."

Prosecutors normally get the final word at trial, but Manhattan Federal Judge Shira Scheindlin gave Lichtman the rare chance to respond in light of Gotti's unusual defense, which requires him to actively prove he renounced the Mafia.

Gotti, 41, is facing up to 30 years behind bars if convicted. He listened sullenly from the defense table and rarely lifted his gaze as his lawyer and the prosecutor sparred and interrupted each other with constant objections. Lichtman has claimed the 1999 plea and Gotti's subsequent six years in prison show "John ended his criminal dealing with the mob and should be acquitted of these charges." The lawyer noted that the only evidence linking Gotti to mob business in recent years came from the testimony of star witness Michael "Mikey Scars" DiLeonardo a former Gambino capo and an admitted killer and liar.

"There are no tapes, there are no letters, there are no cards, there are no bugs," Lichtman said. There were also no visits from any high-ranking members of the Gambino
crime family, other than Gotti's uncle Richard.

In the prosecution team's attempt to show Gotti's ongoing involvement in the mob, they have accused him of three criminal acts between 1999 and 2002. These include allegations that he asked DiLeonardo to return some machine guns and to repay an old $50,000 loan-sharking debt. Gotti also allegedly asked for a meeting with DiLeonardo's lawyer to convince his pal to plead guilty in an unrelated case, but DiLeonardo refused to arrange it.

Thanks to Kati Cornell Smith

Monday, August 29, 2005

Turncoat details Gotti's alleged crimes on witness stand

The seeds for betrayal were sown in a secret induction ceremony on Christmas Eve 1988, when close friends John A. "Junior" Gotti and Michael "Mikey Scars" DiLeonardo swore to uphold the mob's code of silence.

Gotti's infamous father, the Dapper Don, wasn't there because he "did not want to show he's forcing his family into the life," recalled DiLeonardo. "It was a class act."

He offered that description and others about the inner workings of the Gambino crime family last week in federal court amid the Mafia equivalent of a messy divorce.

DiLeonardo, 50, broke his vow to the Gambinos by pleading guilty in 2003 and agreeing to testify against the younger Gotti at a racketeering trial. During four days on the witness stand, the admitted killer and government's star witness told jurors about Gotti's alleged crimes -- including a botched kidnapping of radio show host Curtis Sliwa -- and about his torment over becoming a turncoat. "John was very, very good to me," DiLeonardo said in one of several odes to the family scion. "I love John."

By his own account, DiLeonardo was to the 41-year-old Gotti what the most notorious Gambino cooperator, Salvatore "Sammy the Bull" Gravano, had been to Gotti's father: his confidant, his enforcer and, possibly, his undoing. The elder Gotti died in prison in 2002 after Gravano's testimony helped put him away a decade earlier.

The grandson of a gangster, DiLeonardo testified that he committed three murders and "extorted everybody I could" while rising through the Gambino ranks. Not all his lessons were learned on the street: He said he twice read "The Prince" by Niccolo Machiavelli.

DiLeonardo said he eventually became a captain charged with collecting kickbacks from the construction industry, with millions of dollars going to Gotti. As a member of a council that assumed control of the family after his father was jailed in 1992, Gotti "had it coming," but was quick to share the wealth, DiLeonardo said. "His gifts were greater than my gifts," he said. "I couldn't keep up with him."

DiLeonardo made enough money himself to build a multimillion-dollar home that featured a fence crowned with gargoyles "to keep away evil," he said. The income also helped support children he had both with his wife and girlfriend -- not an unusual burden, he said, given the "social structure" of the mob. "We don't really socialize with our wives," he explained. "When we go out and commiserate, we don't take our wives to mix among gangsters and killers -- we take our girls. ... You're an oddball if you didn't do it."

DiLeonardo testified that Sliwa was targeted in June 1992 after Gotti grew tired of hearing the rant radio personality and founder of the Guardian Angels crime-fighting group bash his father on the air. "You guys are going to have to do a piece of work for the family," DiLeonardo quoted Gotti as saying at a meeting with his crew.

The witness said Gotti ordered a "severe hospital beating." Instead Sliwa was shot during a struggle in a stolen cab; he survived, and testified last week against Gotti.

With Gotti in prison on a 1999 racketeering conviction, DiLeonardo was arrested and jailed in 2002. He was soon shocked to learn the Gambinos cut off his income and stripped him of his rank as captain. "They made me a nonentity ... and, above all, broke my heart," he said.

He eventually agreed to cooperate. But he testified that once he pleaded guilty and was released into the witness protection program, he became so distraught by the thought of betraying his "brother John" that he tried to kill himself by overdosing on sleeping pills. "John and I had a special bond in this life, and I always said I'd have undying loyalty to that man," he said. "I love that guy."

DiLeonardo emerged as a key witness last year in a case charging Gotti's uncle with being the acting boss of the Gambinos and with ordering a failed hit on Gravano; the uncle was convicted in 2004 and sentenced last month to 25 years in prison.

While awaiting Gotti's trial, DiLeonardo said, he anxiously scanned newspaper and Web sites for news about his old friend and partner in organized crime. "I has hoping John Jr. may have flipped and I wouldn't have to take the stand," he said. "I was rooting for him to flip."

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