November 11, 2012
John Gotti: The Teflon Don
“There was nothing that my father loved more than being a gangster. Not money, not even us. He felt that anybody that really lived this life like he did, at the end of the day you have to die or go to jail.” – John Gotti Jr. Who is John Gotti? Depending upon who you ask this question to, your answer could vary. Growing up in my neighborhood in Far Rockaway, Queens John Gotti is a legend and someone people look up to. At the same time you can ask other people about John Gotti and they will tell you that he was a ruthless thug and a menace to society. Either way you look at it John Gotti made his mark here in America and he was known all across the country for being the boss of the largest and most powerful of the five families in New York, the Gambino crime family. I will not talk about my opinions on John Gotti in this paper but I will give you his life story from his birth in the Bronx to his death in prison and let you be the judge. John Joseph Gotti was born on October 27, 1940 in the Bronx, New York. John was the fifth child of Philomena (Fannie) and Joseph Gotti, who were Italian Immigrants. Joseph and Fannie Gotti also had twelve other children; four of which who would also become made men, or members of the Mafia. John’s younger brother Gene Gotti was actually initiated before John was due to John’s incarceration at that time. During John’s time as boss of the Gambino crime family he had his brother Peter Gotti initiated despite John’s belief (and that of many others) that Peter did not have what it takes to be La Cosa Nostra. Peter earned himself the nickname “the dumbest don” after the incarceration of John Gotti, Gene Gotti, and John Gotti Jr. when he assumed the position of Boss of the Gambino crime family. The other two brothers were Richard Gotti, who would be revealed as capo in 2002, and Vincent Gotti. John Gotti spent his early years growing up in poverty. John Gotti’s father Joseph Gotti was a day laborer who never had regular work or a steady source of income. On top of Joseph Gotti’s problems with finding decent work so he would be able to provide for his family, he also had a gambling problem. This was a huge problem because he was the only earning member of the large family. John Gotti came to resent his father for not being able to provide the family. By the time Gotti reached the age of twelve, he was already an errand boy working for an underground club. This club was headed by Carmine Fatico, a capo in the Gambino crime family. Fatico was an early mentor Gotti until John was introduced to Aniello Dellacroce, who became his mentor for life. Gotti had his first run in with the law in 1954 when he was caught with friends attempting to steal a portable cement mixer that tipped over and crushed the toes of his feet. He had to be hospitalized for a while and as a result he is supposedly missing a toe or two. By 1956, Gotti had dropped out of Franklin K. Lane High School and was named the leader of the Fulton-Rockaway Boys. This gang is where he meets and befriends Angelo Ruggiero and Wilfred Johnson, who also become Made Men in the Gambino crime family. When Gotti moved with his family to Ozone Park in Queens, New York, Gotti became a key member of the Gambino hijacking crew. Along with his brother Gene and Ruggiero, Gotti began hijacking trucks at what would come to be known as John F Kennedy International Airport. This is where he was introduced to and befriended future Bonanno crime family boss Joseph Massino. It was here that they were given the nicknames of “Black John” and “Crazy Horse”. In 1968, Gotti was arrested for the hijackings. While out on bail, Gotti was arrested again for a hijacking on the New Jersey Turnpike. Gotti pleaded guilty to the Northwest Airlines hijackings but the charges were dropped on the New Jersey Turnpike cigarette hijackings. Gotti served three years in Lewisburg Federal Penitentiary for the...