The John Gotti tapes sleep with the fishes.
The feds have disclosed for the first time that two original reel-to-reel recordings of the late Gambino boss conspiring to murder an underling were destroyed by Hurricane Sandy.
The tapes were stored in the bowels of 26 Federal Plaza in lower Manhattan where the New York City division of the FBI is based. An FBI bug planted in an elderly woman's apartment above Gotti's Ravenite Social Club, picked up a damning conversation in 1989 between the late Gambino crime boss and his consigliere, Frank "Frankie Loc" Locascio.
On the tape, Gotti had expressed his plan to whack mobster Louis DiBono for disrespecting the Dapper Don — a gangland killing that was carried out in October 1990 in the garage of the World Trade Center. Locascio was convicted of the murder and is serving a life sentence.
But Locascio's attempts to get a hold of the original recordings, which he claims contain inaudible sections that will exonerate him, may be a washout.
Federal prosecutors are now saying that conversations recorded on Nov. 30, 1989 and Dec. 12, 1989 at the Ravenite were "destroyed beyond remediation," according to court papers.
"I know there was water damage in the basement and it is very possible there were tapes in the vault," Locascio's appellate lawyer Ruth Liebesman told The Daily News. "It's a little disturbing that the government would go to all the trouble of making copies and then put them all in the same place for safekeeping."
The FBI could not locate a copy of the November tape, but there is a copy of the December reel-to-reel which were converted to cassette format, and later to DVD, according to court papers.
In another twist, the FBI handed over the DVD to Liebesman, but is now claiming that was done in error and the feds are demanding the return of the DVD.
Liebesman said the DVD containing the conversation is already in the hands of her audio expert who is trying to clean up the distortion and the background noise to reveal the words that will set Locascio free. The elderly mobster claims he talked Gotti out of his desire to kill DiBono the next day.
"I'm hoping that even with a copy we can do something to enhance what was inaudible," Liebesman said.
But the feds claim the Dec. 12, 1989 conversation is subject to withholding under the Freedom of Information act because the tapes were sealed in 1998 by a judge due to the ongoing investigation.