The "Thanks John" hats were given away at a Gotti July 4th block party, but found their way to Judge John Gleeson after he put the mob boss away.
From the courthouse chambers of outgoing Brooklyn Federal Judge John Gleeson has emerged an authentic relic of Gambino boss John Gotti.
It’s a red and white baseball cap with the words “Thanks John” printed across the front and an illustration of a Roman Candle fireworks rocket.
In the early 1990s, the hats were handed out to neighborhood revelers at Gotti’s July 4th block party and fireworks show outside the gangster’s Bergin Hunt and Fish Club in Ozone Park.
The annual event helped create Gotti’s image as a Robin Hood figure who gave out free food and entertainment to the community while he was being persecuted by law enforcement.
The cap, in pristine condition, was bestowed to Gleeson as a gift by an FBI agent who apparently obtained it while working undercover at the party.
Gleeson did not doff the hat at courthouse party in his honor, but Magistrate Judge Steven Gold did and said the “Thanks John” message showed how everyone felt about their colleague who is resigning to join a top Manhattan law firm.
Judge Gleeson is resigning from the bench to work for a Manhattan law firm, but still has a momento from one of his greatest achievements.
But mob scion John A. "Junior" Gotti, the former acting boss of the Gambino family after his father went away to prison, had a different take on the hat’s meaning.
“That hat is to ‘Thank John’ just like the people who wore it back in the day to thank him for the July 4 celebrations, except Gleeson wore it to thank John (Gotti) for giving him his career,” Gotti Jr., told The Daily News.
Gleeson was the federal prosecutor who put Gotti away for racketeering and murder, shattering the legend of a “Teflon Don” who couldn’t be convicted.
He rose to greater heights in the Justice Department, and was named a federal judge in 1994 by President Bill Clinton.
Former Gambino associate John Alite recalled that the hats were provided by a neighborhood guy named “Steve.”
But Gotti didn’t deserve any thanks for the block party, said Alite, who left the mob to cooperate with the feds against other Gambinos.
The Daily News recounted the Teflon Don's July 4th bash in 1990.
“We all had to reach in our pockets to buy the food and the fireworks, not John,” Alite recalled.
A spokeswoman for the Mob Museum in Las Vegas said there are some Gotti artifacts in the permanent collection, including a white linen suit he wore to court, and a Jaguar sports car given to him by capo Greg DePalma.
The items were donated to the museum by Gotti’s family, she said.
The museum said they would gladly accept the “Thanks John” cap if the judge ever decides to part with it.
Gleeson was unavailable for comment.
Last week, though, Gleeson sounded a little bit like a Gotti when he described how graciously his law clerks had received the news that he was bailing out on them.
“If that was me, I would have been waiting in the park outside with a baseball bat,” Gleeson quipped.