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

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Prospective jurors don't want any part of Junior Gotti's upcoming trial

The Dapper Don is long dead and three of his brothers are in jail forever - but the name "Gotti" still inspires fear.

That's the long and short of comments from the more than 300 men and women in the pool of prospective jurors for next week's murder/conspiracy trial of John A. (Junior) Gotti, the son of the late mob boss John Gotti.

"I don't want to mess with John Gotti," one prospective juror said.

"People involved with John Gotti have mysteriously 'disappeared,'" said another. Both were later bounced.

"I do have a fear of the Mafia looking me up if the jury found him guilty," a third offered.

These are just some of the excuses prospective jurors have floated to try to get out of serving on the jury in Gotti's fourth federal trial.

The best one: "My brother-in-law chose to 'turn states (sic) evidence' against (the elder) Gotti and is currently in witness protection."

Aside from fear and family business, some of the potential jurors said they simply had no doubts about Gotti's guilt.

"His fat family members are murders (sic)," said one prospective juror, apparently trying hard to get tossed from the panel. "I feel he is guilty, I have heard about the Gotti family."

"Once a member of the mob, always a member," another opined.

Gotti, 45, faces life in prison for taking part in a racketeering conspiracy dating back to the 1980s that includes three gangland murders.

When Gotti goes on trial Monday, prosecutors will tell jurors he was a vicious killer who still pulls strings in the crime family.

He contends he's quit the mob, a strategy that seemed to work in three previous mistrials.

Prospective jurors were asked 49 questions to see if they could be impartial in the trial, expected to last eight weeks in Manhattan Federal Court.

In the 29-page questionnaire, jurors were asked if they'd been a crime victim, could accept the word of a mob rat or had ties to law enforcement. They even were asked their favorite TV show.

The key questions centered on whether they'd made up their minds before entering Judge Kevin Castel's courtroom.

"I have set in my mind that he is guilty. How could he not be?" one juror noted.

Prosecutors and defense lawyers agreed to eliminate roughly 92 Gotti haters; the judge cut another 183.

Those who said they could keep an open mind were dubious about the huge time commitment and explained, often in excruciating details, how their lives would be disrupted.

Many cited aging parents, disabled children or chronic diseases as reasons they could not serve.

One cited financial pressures and noted he is being treated for hepatitis C and must see a doctor regularly.

For good measure, the prospective juror added: "I have little doubt that Gotti has blood on his hands." It worked: That juror didn't make the cut.



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