Allan May, Crime Historian
Allan May is an organized crime historian, writer and lecturer. He also writes a monthly column for the Cleveland Plain Dealer. Contact him at AllanMay@AmericanMafia.com
Like Father, Like Son…Like Son-In-Law
A Gotti Family Commentary
By Allan May
What is it with the men in the Gotti family that makes them want to spend large parts of their lives behind prison walls? Three members of the family are currently serving long sentences. John “Dapper Don” Gotti was jailed for life back in 1992. His brother Gene was slapped with a 50 year sentence for drug trafficking, while John’s son “Junior” was sent away last year for a six and a half year stretch.
Joining them soon will be Carmine Agnello who is married to the Dapper Don’s daughter, Victoria. Agnello was arrested in late January and charged with coercion, conspiracy, grand larceny, and arson for attempting to scare a Queens, New York competitor. If convicted Agnello is looking at 25 years in prison.
One prosecutor suggested it was like an episode from “The Sopranos.” What mob-related incident isn’t these days. First everything was compared to the “Godfather,” then it was “Goodfellas,” today it’s “The Sopranos.” Agnello was initially held on a $10 million dollar bail, to which his lawyer Marvyn Kornberg replied, “That’s not bail, it’s a telephone number.” Great line, Marv. Don’t be surprised to hear that used in an upcoming “Sopranos” episode.
Victoria Gotti, perhaps the only “earner” left in the family, was quick to point out that Carmine was targeted because of his “infamous in-laws.” Police officials point out that Agnello wasn’t targeted at all, he simply walked into a police sting operation that was set up to catch car thieves. How bright was that?
In the classes I teach about organized crime I always point out that Mafia = Greed. Agnello is described as a self-made millionaire whose South Bronx business, New York Shredding Corp, makes $30 million a year. He lives in a white columned mansion in Old Westbury, Long Island that is worth $4 to $5.5 million, depending on which newspaper account you read. In addition, he is married to the incredibly beautiful Victoria Gotti, the talented and best-selling mystery writer and arguably the most intelligent member of the first family of organized crime. Having this kind of lifestyle would seem to satisfy 99.9% of the male population of this world, but some how it was not enough for the barrel-chested Agnello. He may have a couple of decades to re-think his apparent avocation as a member of organized crime.
Meanwhile, who couldn’t feel some compassion for Victoria in this situation? As a young girl she lost one brother in a tragic accident. Her father spent time in prison while she was growing up. Last year it was brother “Junior” who caused her to put up the mansion as bail. Now if Agnello is convicted authorities may seize her home altogether claiming it was purchased through “ill-gotten” gains. Victoria recently shelled out $120,000 from her own book advance to get Carmine out of jail after a sympathetic judge reduced the bail.
The glamorous blonde daughter of the once “Teflon Don” already has to take time away from her own young family and pay the travel expenses to see her father and brother. Soon she will be doing the same thing to see her husband too. In addition to this she gets to listen to her father berate Agnello on each visit. Gotti has been taped calling his son-in-law a moron and an imbecile. During taped visits at the Marion facility Gotti was recorded saying to Victoria, “So what’s the story with Carmine? Does he get in the backseat of the car and think someone has stolen the steering wheel?”
The jailed for life Gotti, who somehow doesn’t think that his habit of constantly being picked up on FBI bugs compares to the mistakes of his son and son-in-law, was also recorded putting down Junior to Victoria and his brother Peter.
Still Victoria seems to live in denial as was apparent in her last interview on the Larry King Show. She contends that her father was falsely imprisoned and that he is not the Mafia boss the government and the media have made him out to be. It will now be interesting to hear her comments about her husband.
With Agnello out of the Gambino Crime Family plans for the time being this further leaves Peter Gotti on shaky ground. The 61-year-old acting boss has been accused of not being the smartest Gotti. However, he has been smart enough to keep his mouth shut and stay out of jail. The Gotti leadership of the Gambino Family is in more peril now than ever before. With John still thinking he can run the family from prison, if some ambitious crew-member wants to make a name for himself Peter Gotti would be an easy target.
If the Gottis want to continue to run the crime family maybe they would be better off putting Victoria in charge. She obviously has the brains, the talent, the earning capability, and the ability to avoid jail time. They are running out of potential leaders fast. An article in the New York Post stated Victoria was the “only daughter” of John Gotti. I thought it was an obvious mistake, but who knows, maybe Angela has disowned the dysfunctional Gotti family.
At the rate things are going the next boss may be “Sigmund the Sea Monster!”