August 5, 2008 -- John Gotti Jr., whom a jury three times failed to convict on charges of attempting to kidnap New York's colorful radio personality Curtis Sliwa, was arrested early this morning on federal racketeering and murder conspiracy charges, according to a federal indictment unsealed in Tampa, Fla.
The hapless son of the now deceased dapper don, Junior Gotti, 44, was arrested at his home in posh Oyster Bay, New York, on conspiracy charges that tied him to three New York area mob murders, and a major Gambino Crime Family drug dealing operation, according to that indictment.
One of the murders Junior is charged with was the 1990 hit on mobster Louis DiBono, which the elder Gotti, who in 2002 died of cancer at age 61 while serving life in prison, admitted to at trial. DiBono was found slumped down in his Cadillac, four bullets in his head and three in his body, inside a parking garage at the World Trade Center.
That hit that has gone down in mob lore because of the rationale for it offered by the former head of the Gambino crime family.
"He didn't rob nothin'. You know why he's dying? He's gonna die because he refused to come in when I called. He didn't do nothing else wrong, " the elder Gotti said in a conversation recorded by a federal eavesdropping device.
In addition to the murders, federal prosecutors who brought the Racketeering Influenced Corrupt Organizations (RICO) indictment allege that they have linked Junior Gotti to a former Gambino drug ring that operated in New York, New Jersey and Florida. The indictment also states that Gotti acted at times as the de facto head of the crime family, communicating on mob matters with his incarcerated father.
Following his arrest at about 6 a.m. Gotti was handcuffed and brought to the FBI offices in Melville, New York, where he was fingerprinted and photographed. He was then transported to the federal court house on Pearl St. in Manhattan.
The government has three times sought to prosecute Gotti for the kidnapping of New York personality Curtis Sliwa. In September 2005, a six-week federal trial ended when a divided jury failed to reach verdicts on three charges — kidnapping, racketeering and extortion and conspiracy — and voted not guilty on a fourth charge of securities fraud. In March 2006, a retrial on the three unresolved charges ended in a mistrial. In September 2006, prosecutors made a third attempt, but a six-week trial ended when jurors again failed to reach a verdict, although they said they believed Gotti to be guilty of organizing the kidnapping of Sliwa. During each of those trials Junior Gotti said he had renounced the mob.
His lawyer, Seth Ginsberg, said prior to his client's initial court appearance Tuesday:
"We didn't think that the government would stoop to this level after having shown that Mr. Gotti had left this life behind many years ago."
But the government disagrees with these pronouncements of civilian status. The current indictment offers this resume of Junior's mob career, "John A. Gotti, or Junior Gotti, the defendant, and the son of John J. Gotti, was an associate, soldier, captain, and de facto boss in the Gambino Crime Family, as well as a member of the committee of captains formed in the early 1990s to assist in the administration of the Gambino Crime Family."
Gotti's attorney denied these and the other allegations in the indictment. The federal magistrate who presided over the hearing ordered Gotti held without bail. He will remain in custody until his removal to Florida where he will be arraigned.
This morning, Sliwa said, "I can't wait for the day until he gets three hots and a cot and I'll pay for that expense. The third time that he walked out, he gave me a sly grin as he was able to go home to his family in Oyster Bay, his Ponderosa. But I swore then that until the ends of time that until he goes to hell without an asbestos suit that I'd see him in court again and that wish has come true."
A colorful figure with a loud mouthed style, Sliwa was the one-time youthful leader of the vigilante justice group the Guardian Angels. Over time he morphed into a talk radio personality and became something of a folk hero. But he still wore the cocky red beret emblematic of the days when crime in New York was high.
The racketeering conspiracy indictment against Junior Gotti and his codefendants lists a pattern of racketeering activity that includes murder, attempted murder, conspiracy to commit murder, kidnapping, extortion, bribery, drug sales and the collection of unlawful debt, a practice commonly known as loan sharking. Gotti has previously served a 77-month sentence for racketeering crimes, including bribery, extortion, gambling and fraud. He was released from prison in 2005.