John Gotti was the Boss of the Gambino crime family in New York City. Gotti spent the late 1960's and early 1970's in and out of prison and doing street level mob work that lead to him becoming a made man. Gotti's future in the Gambino Family was in danger due to members of his crew being indicted for selling narcotics, which was being done without approval of family leadership. Gotti could see both a way out of his predicament and a way to ascend higher in the Gambino Family, because of growing dissent over the leadership of the crime family.
On the evening of December 16, 1985, Gambino Family Boss Paul Castellano was gunned down along with his number two in command, Thomas Bilotti, in front of Spark's Steak House. Gotti, who'd been watching from a car at a safe distance with Sammy Gravano, had one of his men drive the car past the scene to make sure his deadly orders had been carried out. Gotti soon took over as head of the Gambino Family.
Because of his expensive suits and lavish lifestyle, the press nicknamed him the "Dapper Don." The difficulty the government had in the following years in getting a conviction in the cases brought against Gotti resulted in the press nicknaming him the "Teflon Don." The FBI and the New York Police Department had been ramping up its assault on the Gambino Family since the early 1980's. The use of Title III wiretaps, mob informants, and undercover agents was slowly eroding away the base of the Family.
In December 1990, Gotti was arrested and charged with multiple counts of racketeering, extortion, jury tampering, and other crimes. Gotti's underboss Salvatore "Sammy the Bull" Gravano agreed in 1991 to become a cooperating witness and to testify against Gotti. On April 2, 1992 Gotti was convicted on 13 counts, including ordering the murders of Castellano and Bilotti.
Highlights from the files include:
Gotti was drafted in 1963 and was suppose to report to a local selective service bureau in Brooklyn for induction on November 22, 1963, but he did not appear. Records show that the FBI searched for Gotti for two years and could not find him. Finally the FBI located and made contact with him on November 10, 1965, when he had to appear at the Kings County Court House for a hearing regarding his arrest for grand larceny auto a month earlier. Gotti informed the FBI that he did not know that he was delinquent with the draft board. Gotti mentioned that he was married and had two children. He said that he felt because of this and the fact he had been previously arrested, that he was not eligible for the Armed Forces. Gotti said he was willing to abide by Selective Service regulations and serve in the armed forces of the United States. Gotti reported to the selective service board the next day. Gotti was correct about what his induction status would be.
Files contain information concerning a 1986 attempt on the life of John Gotti and what is believed to have happened to the failed hit man.
Files cover the administrative and technical aspects of the bugging of the Ravenite Social Club.
Sammy "The Bull" Gravano became a cooperating witness in the Gotti investigation in November 1991. An FBI report, which refers to Gravano as "Cooperating Witness (CW)," compiles the information given by him on the Paul Castellano murder. Gravano said he was in the front passenger seat of Gotti's car as he watched the hit. According to the report, "Gotti then drove past Sparks Steak House, at which time, CW observed Bilotti lying flat on the ground." Gravano later describes the process by which Gambino Family leadership selected Gotti to succeed Castellano. Other memos convey the information provided by Gravano. They cover the murders of Robert DiBernardo, Michael DeBatt, and other events.
Sammy Gravano Cooperating Witness Statements FBI Memos. After becoming an informant Gravano had many debriefing sessions with FBI agents. Some of the memos from these meetings summarizes information given by Gravano concerning: Gambino Family hierarchy; Genovese Family hierarchy; Colombo Family hierarchy; jury tampering; mob infiltration of companies and industries; police corruption; union corruption; and John Gotti's son John Gotti Jr.
Gravano gives details about the murders of:
John James Simone
A section of FBI files from 1992 pertain to an internal FBI administrative investigation, which was searching for the source of a leak of information to the media concerning the John Gotti investigation. The primary focus was on two New York Daily News articles concerning information being provided by a cooperating Sammy Gravano to the FBI, one titled "GRAVANO; GOTTI AND I IN CAR AT RUB OUT," dated January 31, 1992 and a second, "THE GANGLAND COLUMN OF JERRY CAPECI" of January 21, 1992. The files indicate that at least 140 FBI agents were interviewed and provided sworn statements.
One statement made by a Special Agent in Charge in New York City states, "I did not provide this information to anyone not entitled to receive it, including the Daily News, with the possible exception of my wife. I do not recall discussing this with my wife, but I may have."
A second investigation involved a leak provided to a New York television station. On January 23, 1992, WNBC-TV New York Channel 4 ran a story about a $75,000 bribe offer made to a juror in the 1987 trial of John Gotti. That trial resulted in Gotti's acquittal. The Channel 4 reporter, John Miller, reported that the offer was made to juror George Pape. The bribe was reportedly in two parts, $60,000 from Gotti and $15,000 from a Gambino associate. The FBI noted that Mr. Miller was known to have a large number of sources in New York law enforcement.
One file includes 70 sworn statements made by FBI agents. According to the file that although almost 200 signed, sworn statements were taken during the inquiry; no one was identified as being the source of the leaks. However, the investigation resulted in three suspects. Three non-FBI employees were identified as suspects warranting polygraph examinations based on information furnished by others who had been interviewed, or because of their historical proclivity to discuss privileged matters with the press. One person took and passed a polygraph examination. One refused to take a polygraph. The third at first agreed to a polygraph, then withdrew their consent.
A series of FBI memos document the string of Gambino LCN Family convictions that followed Gotti's conviction.
The file sections on this disc are:
John Gotti FBI File NY 25-100769 - Search for Gotti after failure to appear at Selective Service Board after being drafted
John Gotti FBI File NY 72-437 - Jury tampering investigation memos during Gotti's 1986 racketeering trial
John Gotti FBI File 62A-HQ-1013466 Part 1 - FBI Administrative investigation into leaks about the Gotti case to the media.
John Gotti FBI File 62A-HQ-1013466 Part 2 - FBI Administrative investigation into leaks about the Gotti case to the media.
John Gotti FBI File Extract Castellano Hit - Information provided by Sammy Gravano on the Castellano hit
John Gotti FBI File BQ 183A-3507 Part 1 - Investigative File - Administration of Electronic Surveillance
John Gotti FBI File BQ 183A-3507 Part 2 - Electronic Surveillance & Gotti Investigation
John Gotti FBI File BQ 183A-3507 Part 3 - Gotti Investigation
John Gotti FBI File BQ 183A-3507 Part 4 - Gotti Investigation & Post Conviction Activity
Sammy Gravano Cooperating Witness Statements FBI Memos - Memos of debriefings of Sammy Gravano after he became a cooperating witness
John Gotti FBI File BQ 183A-3507 Sub Q - Francesco Oliveri homicide FBI Lab Ammunition Report
John Gotti FBI File 281A-NY-233047 - Investigations into the Gambino LCN Family following Gotti's 1992 conviction.
John Gotti FBI File Miami 183A-2244 - mid 1980's Narcotics investigation (heavy redacted)
John Gotti FBI File MISC - Miscellaneous Memos 1974 to 1991, 1974 unlawful flight to avoid prosecution investigation, 1975 manslaughter conviction
About John Gotti
John Joseph Gotti Jr. was born on October 27, 1940. He was the fifth of thirteen children born to his Italian immigrant parents. Jerry Capeci and Gene Mustain wrote in their book, "Gotti: Rise and Fall," that he began running with mob associated street gangs at the age of 12. FBI files that give a physical description of Gotti often mention missing toes. The cause of his missing toes was an injury he sustained at the age of 14 when a cement mixer he was trying to steal from a construction site fell on his foot. After dropping out of school, Gotti devoted more time to his gang the Fulton-Rockaway Boys. John H. Davis wrote in his book, "Mafia Dynasty: The Rise and Fall of the Gambino Crime Family," that this is where he meet long time associates and future Gambino Family mobsters Angelo Ruggiero and Wilfred "Willie Boy" Johnson.
Gotti was married in 1962. Gotti and wife had five children. After marrying, Gotti attempted to make a legitimate living by working as a presser in a coat factory and as a truck driver. He eventually went astray and was arrested in 1965 and 1966. Selwyn Raab wrote in his book, "Five Families: The Rise, Decline, and Resurgence of America's Most Powerful Mafia Empires," that Gotti became a Gambino associate after joining Carmine Fatico's crew. Gotti was arrested for three truck hijacking and was convicted on two counts. He was sentenced to three years and was paroled in 1972.
He returned to Fatico's crew which worked out of the Bergin Hunt and Fish Club. His performance impressed Fatico who made him acting capo of the crew after Fatico was indicted on loansharking charges. At this position Gotti reported to Carlo Gambino's underboss, Aniello Dellacroce.
After Gambino's nephew was kidnapped and murdered, John Gotti was assigned to the hit team that would seek revenge. The person believed to be responsible for the murder was Irish-American gangster James McBratney. McBratney was shot by a member of the team at a Staten Island bar. An eyewitness was able to identify Gotti and he was arrested for the murder. Gotti's lawyer was the famed attorney Roy Cohn. Cohn was able to make a plea deal with prosecutors and Gotti received a four year sentence for attempted manslaughter.
Gotti severed two years and was released in July 1977. Thereafter he was soon initiated as a made-man in the Gambino Family. According to John H. Davis, under Gotti's leadership the Bergin crew became the biggest money producer among the Gambino crews.
On March 18, 1980, Gotti's youngest son, at the age of 12-year-old was struck and killed by a car driven by Gotti's backyard neighbor, John Favara. While riding a borrowed mini-bike he darted into the street from behind a dumpster where he was struck by Favara's car. The death was ruled an accident.
Favara failed to heed repeated warnings to move out of the area and he continued to drive the car that struck Gotti's son. Favara finally put his home up for sale in late July. It sold very quickly. Favara was finishing the details to close the sale so he could move away.
On July 26, 1980 the Gotti family went to Florida on vacation. On July 28, 1980 Favara was abducted near his place of work by several men and thrown into the back of a van. What happened next has become mob folklore. Different stories have differing tales of a gory ending for Favara. Police long suspected that mob hit man Charles Carneglia was involved.
On January 6, 2009 Assistant Brooklyn U.S. Attorney Roger Burlingame filed papers that indicated that a mob informant, a Gambino family associate, gave information about Carneglia's involvement in the murder of Favara. The informant was later identified as Kevin McMahon. Ironically it was McMahon's mini-bike Gotti's son was riding when he was killed. McMahon told authorities that Carneglia told him that Gotti ordered the hit. The papers accused the then indicted and latter convicted mob killer as being part of a seven-man hit squad that targeted Favara on July 28, 1980. The court filings said that Carneglia disposed of the body by putting it in a barrel of acid.
In September 1984, Gotti got into an altercation with a refrigerator repairman named Romual Piecyk. After becoming Boss, Gotti was charged with assault and robbery. After learning who Gotti was, Piecyk was no longer able to remember the identity of the man who assaulted him. A newspaper ran the headline "FORGOTTI."
In 1985, Gotti and Gambino family underboss Aniello Dellacroce, who was dying from cancer, were indicted on racketeering charges. Members of Gotti's crew were also indicted on drug charges. Gambino Boss Paul Castellano did not allow drug dealing. A family member or associate in violation of Castellano's policy on drugs could face death. Castellano had previously voiced dissatisfaction with Gotti.
Gotti knew that Castellano would hold him responsible for the actions of his crew. Gotti asked Dellacroce to speak to Castellano on his behalf. However, Dellacroce died from cancer before he could intervene.
Gotti was upset that Castellano's refused to visit Dellacroce when he was dying, or attend his funeral. After Dellacroce died, Gotti and his supporters no longer felt constrained against attacking Castellano. Two weeks after Dellacroce died, on December 16, 1985, gunmen killed Castellano and his new underboss Thomas Bilotti outside Sparks Steak House. Within weeks Gotti was the new Boss of the Gambino Family.
In 1986, Gotti went to trial on the earlier racketeering indictment. The trial ended in acquittals for all defendants. The FBI later learned that the jury foreman had been bribed.
On December 11, 1990, FBI agents and New York City Police Department detectives raided the Ravenite Social Club, arresting Gotti, Sammy Gravano and Frank Locascio. Gotti was charged with the murders of Castellano and Bilotti, Robert DiBernardo, Liborio Milito and Louis Dibono, conspiracy to murder Gaetano "Corky" Vastola, loansharking, illegal gambling, obstruction of justice, bribery and tax evasion.
In pre-trial hearings prosecutors were successful at getting Gotti held without bail. Gotti was denied the counsel of his two lawyers Bruce Cutler and Gerald Shargel. The government argued that they were both deeply involved in Gambino Family activity, acting as their "in-house counsel."
The FBI meet with Gravano and played for him surreptitiously made recordings in which Gotti said negative things about Gravano. Fearing life in prison and the possibility of being on the wrong side of a hit ordered by Gotti, Gravano decided to turn state's evidence and testify against Gotti.
During jury selection and the trial, the identities of the jurors were kept a complete secret. During the trial the jury was sequestered.
Gravano was the star prosecution witness. During his defense, Gotti was denied the ability to call five of the six witnesses his lawyers planned to put on the stand. The court ruled that the witnesses were irrelevant. Only his tax attorney testified on his behalf. As the trial progressed Gotti became hostile. When prosecutors sought to discuss Gravano's past steroid use, Gotti called him a junkie. When a juror was dismissed Gotti compared it to the fixing of the 1919 World Series "Black Sox" scandal.
On April 2, 1992, after 14 hours of deliberation the jury returned a guilty verdict on all charges. On June 23, 1992, Judge I. Leo Glasser sentenced Gotti to life imprisonment without the possibility of parole and a $250,000 fine. Frank Locascio received the same punishment.
Gotti was sent to the United States Penitentiary at Marion, Illinois to serve his sentence. This prison was built in the early 1960's to replace Alcatraz.
In 1998, Gotti was diagnosed with throat cancer. On June 10, 2002 John Gotti died at the age of 61.