Notorious mobster John Gotti’s first arrest was at the age of 14 when he was caught trying to steal a cement mixer. At the time, the law-breaking teen, who eventually ascended to the top of the Gambino crime family, talked himself out of trouble by blaming the incident on a mere boyhood prank. Gotti’s ability to talk his way out run-ins with the law got him out of many scrapes throughout his life, however, the career criminal eventually landed in jail, where he died.
In the 1980s, the “Dapper Don” went through three high-profile trials, each of which resulted in his acquittal. It was later revealed that the trials had been tainted by jury tampering, juror misconduct, and witness intimidation. His ability to walk off scot-free earned him the nickname “Teflon Don.” Despite going free previously, law enforcement continued to follow the mob man, which eventually led to his downfall.
On December 11, 1990, FBI agents and NYPD detectives raided the Ravenite Social Club in New York City. Gotti and his associates Salvatore “Sammy the Bull” Gravano and Frank Locascio were arrested. Subsequently, federal prosecutors charged Gotti with five murders, racketeering, conspiracy to murder Gaetano “Corky” Vastola, loansharking, illegal gambling, obstruction of justice, bribery and tax evasion. A judge disqualified Gotti’s attorneys Cutler and Gerald Shargel from defending their client after prosecutors successfully argued that they were “part of the evidence” and thus liable to be called as witnesses as they were likely “in-counsel” for the Gambino family. Gotti subsequently hired Albert Krieger, a Miami attorney.
Everything changed for the slippery Gotti in 1991, when Gravano, who was Gotti’s underboss, agreed to turn state’s evidence and testify his boss. The mobster heard Gotti make disparaging remarks about him on a wiretap that implicated them both in several murders.
Jury selection began in January 1992 with the judge ordering an anonymous jury, which was fully sequestered during the trial due to Gotti’s history of jury tampering.
The prosecution, led by Andrew Maloney and John Gleeson, began opening statements on February 12, 1992. Gravano took the stand at the trial and confirmed Gotti as head of the Gambino family. Additionally, the witness detailed the 1986 assassination of former Gambino crime boss Paul Castellano, giving a full description of the hit.
After 13 hours of deliberation, the anonymous jury found Gotti guilty on 13 counts, including ordering of the murders of Paul Castellano and Thomas Bilotti, on April 2, 1992. He was also convicted of conspiracy to commit murder, racketeering, obstruction of justice, tax evasion, illegal gambling, extortion, and loansharking. On June 23, 1992, Judge I. Leo Glasser sentenced Gotti to life imprisonment without possibility of parole. The crime don was United States Penitentiary at Marion, Illinois. He was kept in a cell 23 hours a day.
On June 10, 2002, Gotti died of throat cancer at the United States Medical Center for Federal Prisoners in Springfield, Missouri.
Following the notorious criminal’s death, the Roman Catholic Diocese of Brooklyn announced that Gotti’s family would not be permitted to have a Mass of Christian Burial but did allow the Gottis to have a Requiem after burial.