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

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Wiretaps reveal Colombo family authorized hit on Junior Gotti

NYPD mugshot of John FranzeseColombo Underboss John Franzese via Wikipedia
In a significant victory for the defense, the judge in the John "Junior" Gotti racketeering trial ruled Wednesday morning that Gotti will be allowed to present evidence that another top mobster approved killing him after Gotti used the defense that he had withdrawn from the mob in his second trial in 2006.
If U.S. District Judge Kevin Castel sticks by his ruling Wednesday afternoon, the jury in federal court in Manhattan hearing Gotti's latest racketeering trial will be the first to hear that he received a death threat, which could make his claim that he quit the mob in 1999 seem more genuine.
According to descriptions by Castel and defense lawyer Charles Carnesi Wednesday, a recording and FBI reports from April 2006 indicate that John "Sonny" Franzese, identified as a captain and acting underboss of the Colombo family, told a confidential informant that the "Howard Beach crew," a contingent of the Gambino family, had asked for permission to kill Gotti.
"They were very upset with John Gotti's behavior and said there's no such thing as quitting the mob," said Carnesi, who was provided with the FBI report Wednesday morning after Castel reviewed it.
Franzese, he said, told the cooperator "that he gives consent to kill John Junior . . . if necessary."
According to gangland rules, mobsters are supposed to get permission from other families before killing other mobsters - particularly those of the stature of Gotti.
Brushing aside prosecution objections that the testimony would be hearsay and had limited relevance to the question of whether Gotti actually withdrew, Castel ruled that the government had to produce either the informant or Joon Kim, the federal prosecutor responsible for Gotti at the time, to testify about the conversation.
Aside from its implication that Gotti's withdrawal was for real, the death threat contradicts a key piece of the prosecutors' case. Two prosecution informants testified that Gotti, while jailed in 2004, got clearance from other top jailed mobsters - including Colombo boss Alphonse "Allie Boy" Persico - to use the withdrawal claim in court.
The evidence about Franzese raises questions about the credibility of those witnesses. It could also, however, be a double-edged sword. Prosecutor Elie Honig pointed out to Castel that Gotti claims to have withdrawn from the mob in 1999. If the withdrawal was genuine, he said, it was surprising that other top mobsters were only learning about in 2006 - after Gotti had used it in court for his defense.

Gotti, 45, of Oyster Bay, is charged with racketeering and two murder counts. He was tried three times on racketeering charges in 2005 and 2006, but each case ended in a hung jury after the defense argued that he had quit the mob before the five-year statute of limitations on racketeering.



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