John Gotti was one of the most notorious names in organized crime history. With an estimated net worth that reached $30 million at its height, Gotti lived an exhilarating life that saw wealth, power and ultimately its downfall.
Who Was John Gotti?
John Joseph Gotti Jr. was born October 27th 1940 in Bronx, New York City and rose from an impoverished youth to become one of America’s most powerful crime bosses. Although fifth among ten siblings with family struggling financially, Gotti used ambition and ruthlessness as his driving forces towards mafia power and success.
What Led Gotti to the World of Crime?
From a young age, Gotti showed a proclivity towards delinquency. School was never his priority, with absenteeism and bullying marking his academic life. By the age of twelve, Gotti was already involved in criminal activities, aligning himself with local street gangs. A failed attempt at stealing a cement mixer at 14 left him with a permanent limp, but this didn’t deter him. By 16, he was fully immersed in the world of the mafia, joining the Fulton-Rockaway Boys gang, rubbing shoulders with future mobsters.
How Did Gotti Rise Through the Ranks of the Mob?
During his teen years, Gotti began running errands for Carmine Fatico, a capo in the Gambino family, setting the foundation for his future ascension. Gotti became involved with various illegal activities – such as hijackings at JFK Airport – leading him to his first significant imprisonment in 1968; upon release in 1972 however, Gotti was prepared for greater responsibilities. He was made acting Capo and later participated in high-profile operations like the Lufthansa Heist.
What Events Led to Gotti Taking Control of the Gambino Family?
When Gambino boss Carlo died in 1976, he surprisingly named Paul Castellano as his successor, overlooking the then-imprisoned underboss, Dellacroce. Upon Gotti’s release in 1977, he was made a capo and quickly became a significant figure under Dellacroce’s guidance. However, differences between Castellano and Gotti grew, and after Dellacroce’s death, Gotti resolved to eliminate Castellano. By early 1986, after a well-executed hit, Gotti was the new Boss of the Gambino family.
Why Was Gotti Termed the “Teflon Don”?
The mid-80s saw Gotti facing multiple RICO charges. But time and again, due to paid jurors, tactical legal defense, or other means, charges against him were either dropped or led to acquittals. This seeming invincibility earned him the media nickname, “Teflon Don”, as charges just wouldn’t stick to him.
How Did the Reign of the Teflon Don End?
Gotti’s penchant for holding meetings at the Ravenite Social Club proved to be a significant mistake. The FBI had bugged the location, gathering evidence against him. Arrested in 1990, Gotti faced a barrage of charges, from racketeering to murder. This time, the evidence was overwhelming, and with his underboss Gravano testifying against him, Gotti was convicted in 1992 on all counts.
What Was Gotti’s Life Like in Prison and How Did He Die?
Gotti’s prison life was marked by incidents, including an assault by an inmate in 1996. To retaliate, Gotti allegedly paid members of the Arian Brotherhood for revenge, though it remains speculative if they ever intended to execute the hit. While incarcerated at the US Penitentiary, Marion, Gotti’s health deteriorated, leading to his eventual death.
How Did Gotti’s Legacy Impact His Family?
Despite the dark shadow of his criminal activities, Gotti’s family was no stranger to the limelight. Marrying Victoria in 1958 and having five children, some of them later became reality TV stars. Shows like “Mob Wives,” “The Real Housewives of New Jersey,” and “Growing Up Gotti” showcased the Gotti family in a new light, blending infamy with entertainment.
In conclusion, John Gotti’s life is a testament to the allure and perils of the underworld. From humble beginnings to being the head of a criminal empire and finally to his incarceration and death, Gotti’s life remains a pivotal chapter in the annals of organized crime in America.