Last Days of the Gotti GangPart Six: Homecoming for Junior Gotti
By J. R. de Szigethy and Lou Eppolito Jr.
In one of the most riveting and suspenseful trials in recent Mafia history, John "Junior" Gotti has beaten a Federal Prosecution - for the time being - and will be reunited with his wife and 5 kids for the first time since accepting a plea bargain with the same Prosecutor’s office back in 1999. After 8 days of deliberations, the jury acquitted Junior of one charge relating to securities fraud and deadlocked on three other counts of the indictment.
Shooting victim Curtis Sliwa was stunned by the verdict, and compared the jury’s decision to that of the O. J. Simpson murder trial. Speaking outside the Courthouse in downtown Manhattan, Sliwa, flanked by members of his citizen’s crime patrol ‘Guardian Angels,’ the outspoken talk show host announced that Federal Prosecutors had assured him they would retry Gotti on the three Counts that resulted in a hung jury, including the pivotal conspiracy count relating to the government’s allegation that Junior Gotti ordered Sliwa to be kidnapped and beaten for making remarks against his father on his popular talk show.
Gotti appeared to be the beneficiary of both the skilled legal defense by his attorneys Jeffrey Lichtman and Marc Fernich, and by confusion on the part of the jurors. With three Defendants facing multiple charges, ranging from kidnapping and murder, to stock fraud and extortion, coupled with Junior’s ‘withdrawal Defense,’ in which it was claimed the son of the former Gambino Godfather John Gotti had quit the Mob after going to prison, the jurors indicated in notes to Federal Judge Shira Scheindlin they were confused over the voluminous charge given to them to direct their deliberations. Even Judge Scheindlin, regarded as one of the most brilliant legal minds in New York, was confused as to the legalities of the case, as were also both the Prosecutors and Defense attorneys.
Members of the Gotti family, including mother Victoria and sisters Victoria and Angel, were overcome with emotion when the Judge announced the partial verdict, which indicated Junior had not been convicted. The decision was seen as a personal, defining moment by Defense Attorney Lichtman. Outside the Courtroom, speaking as much to himself as to others, Lichtman, his voice heavy with emotion, declared: "All my life people have underestimated me!"
Outside the Courthouse, the paparazzi and reporters practically ignored Victoria Gotti, star of the reality TV show "Growing Up Gotti" in favor of her mother, Victoria, who had been a daily, compelling presence during the trial. In previous trials Mrs. Gotti had remained in the background, but this time around the defiant and unapologetic mother of the Defendant embarked on a personal crusade to portray her son as a devoted husband and father who was not a danger to society. It was the co-operating witnesses, originally a ‘dirty dozen’ but half that during the trial, that Mrs. Gotti claimed were the real threats to society, roaming the streets of America with impunity, despite having committed numerous murders, having attained their freedom in exchange for agreeing to testify against a man whose surname was Gotti. Attorney Marc Fernich echoed that sentiment, telling AmericanMafia.com "The Witnesses they called were so bad you can only imagine the credibility of those they didn’t call!"
One such witness was "Mikey Scars" DiLeonardo, who tried in his testimony to present himself as someone who loved his ‘brother’ Junior Gotti, despite the fact that his testimony could send Junior away for most of the rest of his life. What the jury did not hear, as a result of a decision by the Judge in the trial, were secretly recorded conversations of Junior Gotti in prison, in which he renounced organized crime and his previous association with dangerous criminals such as DiLeonardo. The jury also did not hear the compelling words of the widow of Bobby Boriello, a close associate of Junior’s who was murdered in 1991. Mrs. Boriello told the New York Post that after her husband’s murder, she turned to DiLeonardo for financial and emotional support for her family and was rebuffed by the career criminal. Junior Gotti, however, provided financial and emotional support to Mrs. Boriello and her kids.
Mrs. Boriello had in fact offered to testify on behalf of Junior Gotti, but Junior nixed the offer, prepared to be convicted and sent to prison rather than subject Mrs. Boriello to an invasion of her family’s right to privacy by both the Federal Prosecutors and the Media.
Apparently, it was such selfless devotion to those Junior cared about most that helped motivate his defense team to reportedly work 18 hour days, seven days a week to secure his acquittal. However, the celebratory mood Gotti’s attorneys exhibited in the moments after the partial Verdict was delivered came hours before Judge Scheindlin unsealed the documents of the jury, which revealed that the jury was deadlocked 11-1 for conviction on four parts of Count One, the racketeering charge that would have sent Junior to prison for most of the rest of his life.
After the partial Verdict, Curtis Sliwa told the Media he is looking forward to ‘Round Two’ of the U.S. vs. John "Junior" Gotti. Both Junior and his mother have indicated it is Junior’s desire to relocate far away from New York and start a new life, away from the thugs who committed almost every conceivable crime, including murder, crimes they claim they committed in the name of Gotti. While out on Bail, Junior will be under severe restrictions, including House Arrest until his second trial, which could come two years or more down the line. Regardless the outcome of that trial, New York has finally seen the last days of the Gotti gang.
To be continued
Last Days of the Gotti Gang
Part Four: Curtis Sliwa Gets His Day In Court
Last Days of the Gotti Gang
Last Days of the Gotti Gang:
Last Days of the Gotti Gang
Ends of Evil: The Final Days of Sammy "The Bull" Gravano
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