Judge declares mistrial in John Gotti Jr case

Teflon mantle passes between generations after jury fails to reach a verdict for the fourth time in five years

The Teflon mantle has been passed between generations of the Gambino crime family after the judge at the trial of John Angelo Gotti III declared a fourth mistrial, proving the younger Gotti’s skill at evading convictions to be even more accomplished than that of his father, John Joseph Gotti, Jr. (Teflon Don).

Junior Gotti walked free from a New York court yesterday after a jury failed to reach a verdict for the fourth time in five years. He had been accused of several mob murders over a career in organized crime spanning 30 years.

But the jury was split down the middle. Several were unconvinced by the prosecution case that relied on the increasingly controversial use of mob informants.

Gotti’s release on $2m (£1.2m) bail means that his record for foiling federal attempts to put him away for life surpasses even that of his father, “Dapper Don” Gotti.

The elder Gotti, the undisputed head of the Gambino mob family known for his bespoke suits, was sentenced to life at his fourth trial in 1992 and died in jail 10 years later of throat cancer.

There were scenes of jubilation outside the New York court. Gotti’s mother, Victoria Gotti, shouted: “We’re going to Disney World!”

Gotti addressed reporters outside the court, inviting them to spend Christmas at his house, and telling them that he planned to celebrate with a steak dinner with his children. “It was difficult for me. I can only imagine what it was like for them.”

He thanked the jury for being fair and open-minded, which he said was “a hard thing to do.”

The New York Daily News reported that Gotti also expressed his belief that his dead father had been looking over him in court.

For the five nights leading up to yesterday’s ruling, he had heard a premonition through the radio in his cell – a favorite classic pop song had been played at precisely 10.27 pm each night – which he took to be a sign as Dapper Don’s birthday was 27 October.

Federal prosecutors now have the difficult task of working out what to do next. They could drop all charges against Gotti, though that would be embarrassing considering the amount of investigative time and money spent on him already.

The prosecution has also always argued that Gotti remains an active mob leader, in contradiction to Gotti’s own insistence that he renounced a life of crime when he came out of jail on an earlier conviction in 1999.

Alternatively, they could launch a fifth trial. But that would risk provoking renewed criticism that the federal authorities were running a vendetta against the Gottis.

The other soul-searching that the prosecution must now do is over the use of turncoats in huge mob trials such as this. The prosecution’s key witness was John Alite, who admitted to being a mob associate of Gotti’s, helping him run a cocaine business between 1984 and 1994.

Alite told the jury he had killed a cocaine dealer, George Grosso, in 1988 on Gotti’s orders. But some jurors said after the trial ended that they did not find a self-confessed multiple murderer a convincing witness.


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