Updated news on the Gambino, Genovese, Bonanno, Lucchese and Colombo Organized Crime Families of New York City.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Gotti witness ties 'Junior' to seven murders

John "Junior" Gotti's former close friend and mob lieutenant tied his boss to seven murders and estimated that the two split more than $50 million in profits from a decade of often violent lawbreaking as the government's star informant spent his first day testifying in the Gambino family heir's racketeering trial.

John Alite, appearing in Manhattan federal court, testified that he had firsthand knowledge of Gotti's role in the drug-related murders of George Grosso and Bruce Gotterup, which are charged as separate counts, and the killing of Louis DiBono, who was slain for defying orders from his father. But Alite said Gotti also bragged about a role in four other killings.

Gotti, he said, took credit for the stabbing of Danny Silva in a Queens bar fight in 1983 and said he had a role in the 1984 hanging of a witness to that stabbing who fingered Gotti. Gotti also said he drove a getaway car in a hit on mobster "Willie Boy" Johnson, who was believed to be an informant, and discussed the killing of an unnamed victim at brother-in-law Carmine Agnello's junkyard.

"He told me they crushed him in the car chopper," testified Alite, dressed in a gray sweatshirt and sporting a cross-like tattoo on his thick neck.

Gotti, 45, of Oyster Bay, was tried three times for racketeering in 2005 and 2006, but each trial ended in a hung jury. Alite, however, was on the lam from a racketeering indictment in Tampa at that time and did not begun cooperating until 2008. Trial observers say his testimony is one reason prosecutors may have a chance for a different result this year.

Alite said he grew up poor, the son of a taxi driver, and had never become a made mobster because he is Albanian, not Italian. But he had been both best friends and a top criminal associate to Gotti, he said, from 1983 to 1994, when the friendship cooled and he began answering to underlings.

Alite said that during 10 years as a family intimate he helped Gotti's sister, Victoria, shop for her wedding dress, counted out a $100,000 cut from a heroin deal for the late Gambino boss John J. Gotti, blew $50,000 gambling with Gotti Jr. in Las Vegas, and was able to live the good life in return for doing whatever he was told. "We got treated like we were celebrities," he said. "I loved it."

During the early years, Alite testified, he committed a laundry list of crimes on orders from Gotti - more than three dozen shootings, beatings, burglaries and robberies, shakedowns and other crimes. "I did everything for him," Alite testified.

He estimated his activities grossed $50 million to $75 million. Most of that went to accomplices, and he and Gotti were supposed to split the profit. But he always shorted his boss - keeping about $10 million, and giving Gotti $7 million. "We cheat each other," he said. "That's the life. It's treacherous."

Gotti's mother and two of his sisters, Angel and Victoria - who Alite, in previous testimony, claimed he had an affair with - were all in attendance for Alite's appearance.

There were no outbursts or verbal sparks, although there was derisive eye-rolling from the lawyers at the defense table when Alite compared himself to some well-known gangland tough guys, which caused Alite to interject, "I don't know what's so funny about that."

Earlier Tuesday, a crooked former NYPD detective testified that he was present in the car when Alite committed one of the murders prosecutors allege Gotti ordered - shooting cocaine dealer Grosso in the head in 1988.

Former detective Phil Baroni, who had been implicated by Alite at an earlier trial, worked for the NYPD from 1973 until 1986 and fell in with Alite in 1987. He said that he didn't know a hit was planned when he and Alite met Grosso at a bar, and then got into the backseat of a car behind the dealer.

"I looked to the left, and just when I turned back, I heard three shots," said Baroni, who has pleaded guilty to committing a violent act in pursuit of racketeering and is awaiting sentencing. He said Alite spat on Grosso and called him an expletive after the killing.


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