Allan May, Crime Historian
Allan May is an organized crime historian, writer and lecturer. He teaches classes on the history of organized crime at Cuyahoga Community College. Contact him at AllanMay@AmericanMafia.com
7/12/00 note from Allan R. May
I regret that I have incorrectly identified Robert "Bobby" Farish as the
owner of the John Gotti website. The correct owner is Mr. Santo Francesco
Montagna. I sincerely apologize for any inconvenience this mistake may have
caused Mr. Montagna and his website patrons.
A Cry for Justice Commentary
By Allan May
Too many times on our AmericanMafia.com Forum we get posters who implore the virtues of John Gotti and berate the lengths that our government went through to put him away. While many feel that some of the posts are the work of someone immature, a mob wannabe, or even a lunatic, there are legitimate efforts underway to bring Gotti’s plight to the public’s attention.
Robert “Bobby” Farish of Washington, North Carolina is spearheading one of these efforts. At the age of 48 Farish is not immature. Battling a condition called Congestive Heart Failure (CHF) and not being of Italian decent, Farish is hardly a mob wannabe. And after speaking with him on the phone and listening to him explain his cause I have determined, even without a medical background, that he is no lunatic.
Farish has created a website:
Here Gotti supporters from around the world can post to a support forum for the Dapper Don. Posters to the site come from Australia, Canada, France, Mexico, New Zealand, Scotland, South America and Sweden. One of the major supporters of this site is Nanci Meek, who our own Forum posters know as the unflappable “Molly from Palm Springs.”
On his site, Farish is not advocating the release of John Gotti, but rather fair treatment for the former Gambino Family boss, especially in the wake of his being diagnosed with throat cancer. Farish points out that the average stay in lockdown (where he is allowed outside his cell for just a couple hours a day) for a prisoner, is 30 months. Except for the times when Gotti has been in a medical facility, he has been in lockdown at Marion for nearly nine years.
Farish, who has been communicating with John Gotti and has received four letters from him, sends the ex-mob boss books, cards, and other “allowable” items. Farish leads a letter-writing crusade of what he calls “the good people of the Gotti Forum” sending memos to “hundreds of different sources” including President Clinton, Hillary Rodham Clinton, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), 48 Hours, 60 Minutes, and a multitude of newspapers. In addition, this group, most likely with the help of Nanci Meek, has contacted actors, actresses and activists to pursue their cause. We already know that performers such as John Amos, Mickey Rourke and Anthony Quinn have been in Gotti’s corner for some time.
In a recent letter to the ACLU in New York, Farish points out many of the prejudicial and unethical tactics that he feels were committed by Judge Leo I. Glasser during the case back in 1991-92. In discussing the treatment that Gotti receives for his illness, Farish states, “My golden retriever gets better treatment at the veterinarian’s office.”
Of course, the big thorn in every Gotti supporter’s side is Sammy Gravano. “The Bull,” who left the Witness Protection Program, served just five years for his confessed involvement in 19 murders. His recent arrest for involvement in a drug distribution ring has left the FBI and the justice department with egg on their face. In addition, guns were found at Gravano’s home – a no-no for a convicted felon – and it recently came to light that he was planning to murder attorney/activist Ron Kuby, an ex-junior high school chum of yours truly. Kuby represents several of the families of Gravano’s victims.
Among the concessions Farish is asking for Gotti is for him to be placed in a federal prison facility closer to his wife and family, and that he have access to better medical care. He also feels that Gotti is warranted a new trial where he should be allowed counsel of his own choosing, and that Gravano, in view of his recent arrest and the doubts about his honest testimony, not be allowed as a prosecution witness.
As self described “pro-Gotti,” Farish did not present much of an argument when I questioned him about Gotti’s participation in the murder of Jimmy McBratney, other than to say that he had “done his time.” Farish called the panel that convicted the Teflon Don, a “blue ribbon jury.” However, he didn’t offer much defense when I questioned him about Gotti’s three previous trials. In the first one, Romual Piecyk was in fear of being killed and refused to identify Gotti. The second trial featured a corrupt juror, George Pape, who was subsequently sentenced to prison for accepting $60,000 to prevent conviction. In the third trial a carpenter’s union business agent, John O’Connor, was warned not to testify against Gotti. Hmmm…apparently it’s okay for the Mob to use dirty tricks to win cases, but everyone cries foul if the government resorts to the same thing.
Still Farish is not a Gotti fanatic whose only passion is to see justice for the imprisoned mob boss. Farish is involved in a number of other organizations and has received awards for his contributions. Among these organizations are Rotary International, Chamber of Commerce, Meals on Wheels, and Lights of Love – a fundraising effort that helps purchase new medical equipment for the Beaufort County Hospital in North Carolina.
In addition to the Gotti forum website, Nanci Meek has several websites that she runs including:
The talented Meek has several pictures of herself superimposed with John Gotti on the sites. Meek, like Farish, is against the RICO statute. She calls the anti-racketeering law a “witch hunt” and compares it to McCarthyism of the 1950s. She also feels Gotti should be transferred to a lower security prison closer to his family.
When we spoke on the telephone I questioned her about Gotti’s involvement in the murder of McBratney. When asked how she would have felt if it were her own father, a lawyer, instead of McBratney there was silence at the other end of the line.
Farish discussed other people who were regulars on the Gotti forum pointing out the diverse background of the group. Mandy Shirley, a new poster to the AM.com Forum who uses the name Sophia, is the daughter of a police chief in Georgia. Des Schollum is a businessman from New Zealand. The group also includes a nurse from Illinois, a pediatric assistant from Brooklyn, the wife of a newspaperman from Georgia, and a recent graduate from Duke University.
The protests about Gotti’s unfair trial and treatment cause me to reflect on another trial involving a Cleveland resident. John Demjanjuk was accused of being a former Nazi prison camp guard by the name of “Ivan the Terrible.” After a lengthy legal battle Demjanjuk was sent to Israel, stood trial, and was found guilty. In a later appeal the decision was reversed. A local commentator said he doubted that Demjanjuk was “Ivan the Terrible,” but claimed, “he probably was a terrible Ivan.” I feel the same about Gotti. Maybe in the last trail Farish is correct and perhaps the government got a “blue ribbon” jury. But, if the courtroom playing fields had been level – meaning Gotti didn’t try to threaten any witnesses and they could testify honestly, and there were no bribed jurors – I’m sure Gotti would have been convicted, and convicted fairly, in all three previous trials.
Good luck to the group if their efforts are truly to get Gotti decent medical treatment, out of lockdown, and closer to his family. But please – no more calls of “Free John Gotti!”
Copyright A. R. May 2000