John Gotti -- the Teflon Don But on those tapes (from discussions in the hallway) "…the three men are heard discussing killings and ways to beat the judicial system in such clear fashion that a relatively liberal judge" branded the three as "dangers to the community who are likely to obstruct justice if out on the streets" (Capeci).
John Gotti, whose reputation for evading long prison sentences notwithstanding his mob-related crimes (including implication in the murders of a number of people), was finally convicted of thirteen crimes on April 2, 1992. His story is a fascinating one as he ascended from a lowly street criminal to the head of the Gambino crime family; this paper provides some biographical details of Gotti but in the main this paper focuses on the evidence and witness testimony that finally put Gotti away for good.
A Brief look at Gotti's Life
Gotti was born on October 27, 1940, the fifth of thirteen children that were born to an Italian immigrant father and mother -- according to FBI files. Gotti was a street gang participant at the age of 12 and was known to be missing toes. The cause of his missing toes? He reportedly was attempting to steal a cement mixer from a construction site and the mixer fell on his foot, causing him to lose a pair of toes (FBI files). Gotti continued his petty street crime activities but was married in 1962; he and his wife had five children. He was drafted by the U.S. Army in 1963 but failed to report for induction. The FBI searched for him for two years and eventually caught up with him in November, 1965, as he appeared for a hearing before the Kings County authorities regarding a grand larceny crime. He did eventually report to the draft board but was disqualified for military service due to his criminal record. He also worked as a truck driver and as a presser in a coat factory and was arrested in 1965 and 1966 for truck hijackings and served time but was paroled in 1972.
He later was arrested for murder and served two years for "attempted manslaughter" (released in 1977); he went on trial for racketeering and was acquitted albeit later the FBI learned that the jury foreman had been bribed (FBI). The "Teflon Don" was implicated in several murders before and during his service as boss of the Gambino crime family. His fate was sealed when his "underboss," Sammy "the bull" Gravano became the star witness for the prosecution and other evidence was admitted that put Gotti away until he died of throat cancer in June, 2002.
Gotti's criminal record leading up to his conviction
Cindi Ernst of the University of Missouri at Kansas City provides a time line of actions that lead up to his last gasp as a man who seemed to squirm out of long prison sentences. He was convicted of murder in 1973 and served two years; he was part of the murder of the Gambino family boss Paul Castellano which led to Gotti becoming the Godfather of the Gambino mob. In 1986 Gotti was charged with racketeering but somehow evaded prosecution and at that time Gotti became a "media hound," parading around New York City in "expensive suits and always ready to be photographed by the media" (Ernst, 1993). Part of the reason Gotti and associates were arrested in 1990 is the fact that the FBI bugged Gotti's hangout spot, the Ravenite Social Club.
The FBI has a "mother lode" of tape-recorded evidence
Author Jerry Capeci reported before the 1992 trial of Gotti that the FBI had obtained "mountains of evidence" against Gotti, including taped conversations linking Gotti to the murder in 1985 of Paul Castellano, according to the New York Daily News (Capeci, 44). So clearly Gotti and his lawyer and his associates knew they were up against some very dramatic and likely wholly incriminating tapes. The sources that informed the Daily News of the FBI's incriminating tapes were not revealed, but the Daily News clearly trusted those sources, and it turned out that the Daily News had it right.
The Daily News (quoted by author Capeci) had reported that after Gotti and Cutler beat the federal racketeering case on March 13, 1987, the FBI "Organized Crime Strike Force" in Brooklyn "…immediately began another racketeering investigation of Gotti" (Capeci). Once Gotti was acquitted in the 1987 case, Jules Bonavolonta (the FBI's supervisor of the strike force) told reporters, "He knows we haven't brought a case against him, and he also knows that when we do, he's finished" (Capeci). In tapes that were seen by the Daily News, Gotti reportedly told one of his attorneys (not Cutler) to "shut up or suffer the consequences -- such as a trip down an elevator shaft," the FBI's tapes revealed (Capeci).
In Capeci's ...
Jerry Capeci, by the way, was a New York Daily News reporter, and his book is a follow-up to everything he knew and found out through his investigative skills. Capeci was "…Blunt, tough and plain-spoken…the city's most respected mob reporter" (Getlin, 1992). In one of the Gotti wire-tapped conservations that were made available to the media, Gotti said, "Why don't you punch him (Capeci) in the (expletive) mouth? Make an appointment, I'll punch him in the (expletive) mouth for you, that rat (expletive)" (Getlin, p. 1).
Capeci was known to "rub shoulders with underworld crooks" to get his stories rather than wait for law enforcement to issue a press release (Getlin, p. 1). When Getlin was attacked by members of the major media for quoting mobsters and printing their side of the story, he responded by saying:
"You have to track these guys down like anyone else. John Gotti may be guilty of terrible crimes…but he has a right to get his point-of-view in the papers like anyone else, to complain about unfair treatment and to have it printed. As a reporter, you have to be fair to everybody" (Getlin, p. 1).
In fact Getlin was the first journalist to "…present the theory -- now accepted by prosecutors as gospel -- that Gotti arranged the hit [on Castellano] to head off an embarrassing probe by Castellano of drug dealing among Gotti's associates. It was a matter of kill or be killed" (Getlin, p. 2). In the section of this research a conversation between Gotti and Gravano reveals the background to the reason for murdering Castellano.
Clips from the FBI bugging of the Ravenite Social Club
In his book The Gotti Tapes Ralph Blumenthal provides evidence of the corruption of Gotti and his underboss Sammy Gravano that was part of the ongoing FBI investigations that the government hoped would finally put Gotti away for good. A conversation that Gotti had with Gravano (in an apartment above the Ravenite Social Club at 247 Mulberry Street in Little Italy, Manhattan) over the possession of FBI tapes was recorded by the FBI.
Neil Dellacroce was an underboss to Godfather Paul Castellano, and Castellano had demanded that Dellacroce get heavy with Gotti to get certain tapes (which were in the hands of an attorney representing Gotti's associate Angelo Ruggiero) that would be incriminating to Castellano. The relationships represented in this phone dialogue are those that were in existence prior to Gotti's group's killing of Castellano.
Gotti and his underboss Gravano are on the phone, fearing that Neil Dellacroce was to be sent by Castellano to kill Gotti and Gravano.
Gotti: "He couldn't succeed but… He felt he hadda hit me first… Let's kill all the cocksuckers that (inaudible), in the whole 'family.' Every fuckin Gambino. Every fucking Castellano…Get rid of the cocksucker!"
Gravano: "I think he [Dellacroce] was stark raving fuckin' (tap sound) nuts…"
Gotti: "Ah, he was a jerkoff!" "Using hindsight now, ourselves -- he deserved to have his tongue cut out. If nothing else, his fucking tongue cut out…"
Gravano: "And it's part of life."
Gotti: [advising Gravano how to act in court] "Talk with certain parameters, and we'll win, we'll win. We'll win, Sammy. We'll win these fuckin' cases. And we'll be out a year from not, somewhere, a year and a half from now, somewhere, laughing a little bit. Probably have new developments but we will be laughing at the… (inaudible). Believe me. Jimmy La Rossa, I already thought about that. But I'm gonna send him a feeler ahead of time. And I ask him -- if he says 'no,' I'll kill him…My pride…" (Blumenthal).
But on those tapes (from discussions in the hallway) "…the three men are heard discussing killings and ways to beat the judicial system in such clear fashion that a relatively liberal judge" branded the three as "dangers to the community who are likely to obstruct justice if out on the streets" (Capeci).
Jesus' Teachings, Prayer, & Christian Life "He (Jesus) Took the Bread. Giving Thanks Broke it. And gave it to his Disciples, saying, 'This is my Body, which is given to you.'" At Elevation time, during Catholic Mass, the priest establishes a mandate for Christian Living. Historically, at the Last Supper, Christ used bread and wine as a supreme metaphor for the rest of our lives. Jesus was in turmoil. He was