The John Gotti Trial (1992): Selected Links & Bibliography
by Cindi Ernst


JOHN GOTTI JR.:  John Gotti Jr. was born October 27, 1940 in Brooklyn, New York.  His days of crime started when he joined street gangs and committed petty thefts as a young kid.  Gotti’s first arrest was at the age of 14 when he was caught trying to steal a cement mixer.  He was able to talk his way out of trouble by attributing the thief to a boyhood prank.  Perhaps this incident served as a catalyst to his negotiating skills in the face of trouble with the law and the development of his charm that would serve him throughout his life.

The underworld became Gotti’s playground after dropping out of school in the eighth grade.  In 1966 one could find Gotti hijacking trucks at the JFK airport for the Gambino family. After being released from prison in 1969 for hijacking trucks, John Gotti earned the respect of Gambino boss Carlo Gambino when he was instrumental in aiding in avenging the death of Gambino’s nephew.  The nephew had allegedly been kidnapped and murdered by an Irish mobster named James McBratney.  Two eyewitnesses saw the murder of McBratney and Gotti was charged with first-degree murder.  The first-degree murder charge was reduced to second-degree manslaughter.  Gotti only served two years for this crime.   His charm had once again played an instrumental role in his interactions with the law.   

CRIMINAL CAREER:  He was slippery, yes, but even the “Teflon Don” couldn’t escape justice forever.  Despite the nickname of “Teflon Don”, his luck would eventually run out. In 1968 he was arrested for his role in a plot to steal thousands of dollars worth of merchandise and sent to prison.  He was released in 1972.

By the early 1980’s, using Title III wiretaps, mob informants, and undercover agents the FBI was beginning to get clear insights into the Gambino family’s hierarchy and activities. Strong cases were being made against the criminal activities taking place.  In late 1985 as mob violence spilled out on to the streets of Manhattan it was becoming clear that Gotti’s charm and criminal activities were about to come to an end.

On the evening of December 16, 1985, 70-year-old-mafioso Paul Castellano—the  successor of recently deceased Gambino boss Aniello Dellacroce—was gunned down along with his number two in command, Thomas Bilotti, in front of Spark’s Steak House, a popular hangout for major criminals. Gotti, who’d been watching from a car at a safe distance, had one of his men drive him by the scene to make sure his deadly orders had been carried out.

Within two years, Gotti was once again arrested for murder. Same story: he went to prison and was out in a few years. Soon after, he became a “made man” for the Gambino family, one of the five most powerful syndicates in the Big Apple. Gambling, loan sharking, and narcotics trafficking were his stocks in trade.

In December 1990, FBI agents and NYPD detectives arrested Gotti, and he was charged with multiple counts of racketeering, extortion, jury tampering, and other crimes.  The judge ordered that the jurors remain anonymous, identified only by number, so no one could pressure them.

On April 2, 1992, after 13 hours of deliberation, the jury found Gotti guilty on 13 counts, including the ordering of the murders of Paul Castellano and Thomas Bilotti.  On June 23, 1992, Judge I. Leo Glasser sentenced Gotti to life imprisonment without possibility of parole. He was sent to the United States Penitentiary at Marion, Illinois, where he was kept in a cell 23 hours a day.  While in prison Gotti paid the Aryan Brotherhood $50,000 a year for protection.  Gotti later offered $1000, 000 to the Aryan Brotherhood to kill Walter Johnson, a black inmate who had brutally beaten him.  The Aryan Brotherhood accepted Gotti’s offer.

On June 10, 2002 at 12:45 p.m. at the United States Medical Center for Federal Prisoners in Springfield, Missouri Gotti died of throat cancer.  The Roman Catholic Diocese of Brooklyn announced that Gotti’s family would not be permitted to have a Mass of Christian Burial but allowed Gotti’s family to have a Requiem after burial.


Born- October 27, 1940 in Bronx, New York


  • Became associated with the Gambino Family and became close to Underboss Aneillo Dellacroce.
  • On March 6, 1962 married Victoria DiGiorgion, by whom he had five children.
  • In 1969 he was sentenced to three years in prison for hijacking.


  • In 1973, he participated in the killing of James McBratney.  McBratney was one of three kidnappers and murderers of Manny Gambino, nephew to Carlo Gambino.
  • Gotti was convicted of the murder and sentenced to seven years in prison.  He only served two years.
  • Dying Carlo Gambino boss of the Gambino family appointed Paul Castellano as his successor.  It was well known that Gotti felt that Gambino should have appointed Dellacroces as his successor and not Castellano.
  • Around 1978, Gotti was named a capo and continued to work in top ranks under Neil Dellacroce.


  • John Favara, a friend and neighbor of Gotti ran over and killed Gotti’s 12-year old son, Frank.  The incident was deemed an accident; however, four months later, Favara vanished and was never seen again.
  • In February 1985, Castelano and five Family bosses were indicted in the Commission Case.  During this same time, Castellano gave Thomas Bilotti the capo position, which would put him and Gotti on the same level.
  • In December 1985, Dellacroce died of cancer.  Two weeks later Castellano and Bilotti were shot to death in Manhattan.
  • Gotti becomes the Godfather of the Gambino Family, the largest Mafia family in the nation.  Gotti sets up his headquarters in the Ravenite Social Club.
  • In 1986 Gotti is charged with racketeering but manages to elude prosecution.
  • Gotti becomes a media hound.  He parades around in expensive suites and is always ready to be photographed by the media.
  • The press nicknamed Gotti “Dapper Don” because of his charismatic charm and good looks.  He is also named “Teflon Don” because charges against him never seem to stick.
  • The FBI manages to get RICO (Racketeer-Influenced Corrupt Organization Act of 1970).
  • The FBI bugs the Ravenite Social Club which eventually leads to a case against Gotti on racketeering schemes. 
  • Gotti and several associates were arrested in 1990 and convicted by a jury in the United States District Court in New York on April 2, 1992 for 13 counts of murder, loan sharking, racketeering, obstruction of justice, illegal gambling, and tax evasion.
  • June 2, 2002, Gotti dies of throat cancer at the United States Medical Center for Federal Prisoners in Springfield, Missouri.

Further reading

  • Capeci, Jerry. The Complete Idiot's Guide to the Mafia. Indianapolis: Alpha Books, 2002. ISBN 0-02-864225-2
  • Davis, John H. Mafia Dynasty: The Rise and Fall of the Gambino Crime Family. New York: HarperCollins, 1993. ISBN 0-06-016357-7
  • Jacobs, James B., Christopher Panarella and Jay Worthington. Busting the Mob: The United States Vs. Cosa Nostra. New York: NYU Press, 1994. ISBN 0-8147-4230-0
  • Maas, Peter. Underboss: Sammy the Bull Gravano's Story of Life in the Mafia. New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 1997. ISBN 0-06-093096-9
  • Raab, Selwyn. Five Families: The Rise, Decline, and Resurgence of America's Most Powerful Mafia Empires. New York: St. Martin Press, 2005. ISBN 0-312-30094-8

YouTube Links

External Link

Seize The Night: Gambino Crime Family

Famous Trials Website