John Joseph Gotti Jr. was an Italian-American gangster who became boss of the Gambino crime family in New York City. Gotti and his brothers grew up in poverty and turned to a life of crime at an early age. Take a look below for 30 more interesting and scary facts about John Gotti.
1. Gotti quickly rose to prominence, becoming one of the crime family’s biggest earners and a protege of Gambino family underboss Aniello Dellacroce, operating out of the Ozone Park neighborhood of Queens.
2. Early in his crime career, following the FBI’s indictment of members of Gotti’s crew for selling narcotics, Gotti began to fear that he and his brother would be killed by Gambino boss Paul Castellano for selling drugs.
3. As the fear continued to grow, and amidst growing dissent over the leadership of the crime family, Gotti organized the murder of Castellano in December, 1985, and took over the family shortly thereafter, leaving Gotti as the boss of what has been described as America’s most powerful crime syndicate, and one that made hundreds of millions of dollars a year from racketeering, hijacking, loan sharking, drug trafficking, bookmaking, prostitution, extortion, pornography, illegal gambling and other criminal activities.
4. At his peak, Gotti was one of the most powerful and dangerous crime bosses in the country.
5. During his era, he became widely known for his outspoken personality and flamboyant style, which gained him favor with some of the general public.
6. While his peers avoided attracting attention, especially from the media, Gotti became known as “The Dapper Don,” for his expensive clothes and personality in front of news cameras.
7. He was later given the nickname “The Teflon Don” after three high-profile trials in the 1980s resulted in his acquittal, though it was later revealed that the trials had been tainted by jury tampering, juror misconduct, and witness intimidation.
8. Law enforcement authorities continued gathering evidence against Gotti that helped lead to his downfall.
9. According to Sammy Gravano, Gotti earned between $5 and $20 million per year during his tenure as Gambino boss.
10. Gotti’s underboss Salvatore “Sammy the Bull” Gravano is credited with the FBI’s success in finally convicting Gotti.
11. In 1991, Gravano agreed to turn state’s evidence and testify for the prosecution against Gotti after hearing the boss making several disparaging remarks about Gravano on a wiretap that implicated them both in several murders.
12. In 1992, Gotti was convicted of five murders, conspiracy to commit murder, racketeering, obstruction of justice, tax evasion, illegal gambling, extortion, and loansharking.
13. He was sentenced to life in prison without parole and was transferred to the United States Penitentiary, Marion in southern Illinois.
14. While in prison, Gotti died of throat cancer on June 10, 2002, at the United States Medical Center for Federal Prisoners in Springfield, Missouri.
15. According to former Lucchese crime family boss Anthony “Gaspipe” Casso, “What John Gotti did was the beginning of the end of Cosa Nostra.”
16. Gotti was so interested in maintaining his “Dapper Don” image that he kept an extra suit on hand at the trial to change into after lunch.
17. Gotti committed his first murder in 1974 when he killed James McBratney outside a bar. The killing was payback because the Irish mobster had kidnapped and murdered a member of the Gambino crime family.
18. The hit didn’t go unnoticed as Gotti was easily identified by bystanders in a photo lineup. However, at his trial, he cut a deal for attempted manslaughter and only served four years.
19. In 1980, Gotti’s son was hit by a car while riding a friend’s motorbike. Despite police listing it as an accident, the driver of the car, John Favara, was kidnapped near his home and never seen again.
20. After the accident, witnesses said that Gotti’s wife attacked Favara with a metal baseball bat. He declined to press charges. Rumors about Favara’s demise suggest that he may have been encased in cement or dissolved in a vat of acid.
21. Gotti once sent a henchman to threaten Frank Sinatra after the crooner lied about being sick to get out of dinner with him.
22. Gotti loved to gamble, to the tune of $30,000 a night, and was considered a drain on the family’s profits. He once lost $60,000 in a dice game.
23. He was so popular in his Queens neighborhood that supporters decorated the trees with yellow ribbons after he was acquitted at trial.
24. Gotti reportedly executed mobster Tommy DeSimone, the inspiration for the character played by Joe Pesci in “Goodfellas”, became DeSimone had assaulted another gangster’s wife.
25. In 1986, Gotti narrowly escaped death when conspirators detonated a car they thought he was riding in, only to find that they had mistaken another man for him.
26. John Gotti was once asked if he disliked being called the “Dapper Don,” to which he replied, “No. This is my public, they love me.”
27. He was left with a permanent limp after he tried to steal a cement mixer at the age of 14 and part of the machinery fell on his toes.
28. One of his first jobs within the Gambino crime family was stealing shipment of goods from JFK airport.
29. At one point during Gotti’s 1992 trial, between 800 and 1,000 supporters gathered outside the courthouse to show support for him.
30. During his final stint in prison, Gotti offered $100,000 to members of the Aryan Brotherhood to kill several former mob associated who had betrayed him. However, Gotti was ratted out to law enforcement.