Time Magazine had him on its cover, but the law seemed totally incapable of putting him in jail, where he belonged, until…
Folks meet John Gotti, the last of the great Godfathers, arguably of Little Italy in New York’s borough of Brooklyn and Cosa Nostra’s boss there and southern Italy’s and Sicily’s perpetuated nation, which, unlike such Italian terms as gorgonzola, pasta, malocchio, parmiggiano and, of course, the great Rudolfo Valentino, is now upstaged into the ‘American’ vernacular with minchia, caporegime, decina, consigliere, cosa nostra and, of course, mafia not forgetting Chicago’s Al Capone.
According to two biographers, Terry Capeci and Gene Mustaint, the prologue of their latest lurid chef d’oeuvre, Gotti – The Rise And Fall, (Random House Group ISBN 9780091943172UK), of the most feared and celebrated hoodlum since Al Capone, quotes the dramatis persona with some pseudo comments, thus, “people loved me, I coulda been President if I wasn’t having so much fun doin’ what I was doin’. I didn’t dodge the draft, as President Clinton did, ha ha! Smoke pot, and didn’t poke girls that wasn’t married, went to Cambridge, was it Massachusetts somewhere (I left at 7th Grade, I went to Green Raven, takes balls to get there, that’s for sure), … yeah I was even on Time cover like Roosevelt, or was it Churchill or maybe somebody equally famous, so there … “
Back in post-war America Cosa Nostra had already reared its ugly head in Organised Crime the length and breadth of Continental United States, as did indeed the nefarious shenanigans of the Teamsters Unions headed by one Jimmy Hoffa, who ultimately wound up embedded in the bottom of New York’s East River. But John Gotti’s realm was Besonhurst, just as if Palermo had been transplanted lock, stock and fig tree to Brooklyn, initially that Broken-Land of an old Dutch colony, to eventually become an integral unit of one of New York’s residential boroughs.
This John Gotti Biography is essentially a criminal’s ‘balance sheet’, wherein both Capeci and Mustain record in consummate detail Gotti’ s mercurial rise, (and, ultimately, fall), to the backdrop of suffused automatic fire, auto bombings, of somebody’s throat gasp and gurgle as the victim’s life is terminated. Also included are innumerable playbacks of both Police and FBI hidden spy tapes in Gotti’s headquarters/lair, and mitigated by Gotti’s, (and et als), dexterity and temerity in rigging (and bribing) scared jurors to return a NOT GUILTY plea for the prosecution, and an equally embittered judge, to such sweet-sounding “expletive” the ‘Teflon Don’, an urban Robin Hood and a Lothario ladies’ man par excellence.
This was notably so when instituted by a clever young criminal attorney Deanne Ciacalone. Not a very fortunate lady, she was visibly ‘mentally’ tormented by the modus operandi the likes of the personae of thugs adopted by John Gotti, which leading case she lost through juror bribery and collusion with a very corrupt defence. Eventually, Counsel Bruce Cutler would be charged with criminal contempt of Court for violating the learned Judge’s prohibition against out-of-court statements that tended to prejudice a fair trial, tantamount to the end of his legal ‘career’. Indeed, on September 26, 1994, in the same Courtroom, Sammy, one of Gotti’s turncoats and FBI informer, pointed a damning finger where Gotti’s last piece of criminal business in the United States was made final.
Despite his conviction and, (this time), being jailed for life in New York’s maximum security prison, Gotti still retained his words in his customary crude and gruff manner. But as time went by, his phraseology began to reveal an increasingly bitter sound full of doom and delusion.
In 1998, six years after his conviction and with no chance of parole, he was heard saying, “Right now, I feel cursed. I’m stuck in this joint and that’s the end of it”. He was now confined to 23 hours a day in a closed-sized cell with just a 13 inch black and white television set for company.
More retribution was to follow as his health deteriorated. After that draconian conversation he had with his visiting relatives in June of 1998, he was diagnosed with malignant throat cancer and underwent treatment which included surgery and post-surgical chemotherapy. However, by the new millennium his prognosis deteriorated further, which demanded additional surgery, leaving him – horror of horrors – speechless, and in June 2002 Gotti died at the age of 61.
Sic Gloria Transit Mundi AMEN