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

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Gambino rat and Teflon Don adviser reveals secrets of the Gottis

John Gotti Jr. Working On A Biopic About His Mobster Father image
The bronze casket of John Gotti Sr., godfather of the Gambino crime family, was wheeled into a crypt at St. John’s Cemetery in Middle Village, Queens. It was June 2002, and the Mafia boss had spent the last decade of his life in prison, slowly dying of throat cancer while the family he ruled as the notorious Dapper Don unraveled.
He wanted his body to be placed next to that of his son, Frank, who died in a tragic accident at age 12.
Gotti left these instructions not with his widow or brothers or children but with the man who served for years as his financial consigliere, a garment executive the don considered his “Matzo Boy” son — Lewis Kasman.
This did not sit well with the Gottis.
Daughter Angela suspected Kasman had stolen millions from her father. Other family members were jealous of Kasman’s cozy relationship with the godfather. Brother Richard, who had been given $50,000 from the mob’s coffers to pay for the funeral, exploded at him.
“Look at the dirty f--king Jew,” he yelled.
Kasman, trying to position the casket so Gotti’s head would be adjacent to his son’s, ignored him.
“I ain’t paying for the funeral,” Richie continued. “You pay for it — you’re his f--king pet.”
“But what about the money Uncle Pete gave you?” Kasman asked.
“I’m keeping it.”
Kasman, who says he had been warned by Gotti about this type of treachery once he was gone, exploded.
“F--k you!” he shouted. Heated exchanges and angry insults bounced off the walls of the tomb. Finally, Kasman unleashed the most cutting words of all:
“Your brother,” he hissed, “always called you a thieving pee-pee brain.”
So began the final chapter of the once-mighty Gotti clan, according to Kasman, 55, who tells the story with a sad chuckle.
The former right-hand man to the world’s most recognizable and powerful gangster has agreed to meet in, of all places, a chapel, hours from the secret location he calls home. He’s skittish — after John Gotti was jailed in 1992, Kasman wore a wire for the feds, helping indict the Gambinos’ top echelon. A deal to put him in witness protection fell through, so he walks around in dark sunglasses, trailed by two ex-Navy SEALs he’s hired for protection.
But he’s ready to talk, having reached out to The Post to tell his story for the first time, about how he managed millions in illicit gambling, drugs and shakedown operations. The Dapper Don could be ruthless, but he was also a hopeless gambler who, rather than relying on the tough language of “Goodfellas,” used childish put-downs like “pee-pee brain.”
Kasman’s enemies now include most of the Gotti family, furious about the money they think he grabbed and his betrayal.
“He’s a piece of s--t,” said Angela Gotti.
Kasman, a Jewish kid from Merrick, LI, joined the family almost by accident. A close Gotti associate needed to make money, and Kasman’s father, who lived on the same street as the associate, happened to own a lucrative fastener company. A “no-show” fashion-supply startup for the man was formed.
Kasman, who worked for his dad, was summoned to the godfather’s private lair in 1986, shortly after Gotti rubbed out Gambino boss Paul Castellano and took over the family. Outside the notorious Bergin Hunt and Fish Club in Ozone Park, he and Gotti talked and walked — around and around the block for three hours.
Kasman told the boss that he, too, could profit from the rag trade if he cared to get involved. Gotti did.
“I knew this was the beginning of something you read about,” he recalls. He had just hit it off with the city’s most powerful mobster.
At lunch the next day with top Gambino captains, Kasman was stunned to hear Gotti announce their partnership. “Lewis represents me,” he told them.
Later, Kasman cemented his position by going to jail for nine months on a perjury rap, rather than blab about Gotti to prosecutors probing Garment Center corruption.
“I was a stand-up guy,” he says.
Kasman was used to dealing with rough customers on Fashion Avenue, but his new friends introduced him to something novel: murder.
He heard about what happened to John Favara, the Gotti neighbor in Howard Beach who accidentally ran over and killed Frank. Favara eventually vanished, presumed murdered — but Gotti didn’t think Favara deserved it.
“John didn’t want to do it — he was pushed into it,” Kasman says.
“He was devastated but knew it was an accident. But his wife, Victoria, took it very bad. Some thought [the murder] was a terrible mistake. Afterward, I think John did have regrets, though he’d never admit that.”
Gotti was also against the planned hit of radio host Curtis Sliwa, even though he despised Sliwa and two other journalists also targeted for assassination: Jerry Capeci and Gene Mustain.
“That was Junior’s idea,” he says of Gotti’s oldest son, John Jr.
“He came to his father with this in jail, and John said no, but Junior went ahead anyway. He didn’t listen.”
The botched plot on Sliwa, which left the host full of lead but capable of testifying, nearly put Junior away for life. Three times a jury failed to convict.
One person the elder Gotti was in favor of whacking was Jackie “The Nose” D’Amico, a top captain. “He wanted to kill him every day,” Kasman says.
Kasman knew he wasn’t serious, however, because Gotti had a pet name for D’Amico.
“He called him ‘Cripple’ because John would stress him out so much he couldn’t function,” Kasman says.
“If he didn’t have a nickname for you, you were in trouble.”
Other nicknames came from Gotti’s oddball imagination.
“Pee-pee brain,” for example, which wasn’t reserved just for his brother Richard.
Gotti also used the term for his not-so-secret goumada, Rosemary Connelly, with whom he had a love child, Shannon, in Staten Island, where he spent as many Sundays as his schedule allowed, Kasman says.
“Tommy Gambino he called ‘Boinky’ — he had a nervous twitch in his eye. I was ‘Matzo Boy’ or ‘Jew Boy.’ ”
The 28 capos under his command referred to Gotti simply as “Chief” and showered him with compliments on his attire.
But perhaps the most shocking nickname was the one Gotti picked for his wife: “Butch.”
Her toughness was legend, he says, after Victoria hounded her husband on Favara, and once brazenly insulted Gotti’s top deputy, “Sammy Bull” Gravano, a coldblooded hit man with 19 murders to his credit.
She opened the door to their home in the Poconos, which was undergoing a big renovation, and pretended not to recognize Bull.
“Hey, John,” she hollered. “The kitchen guy’s here.”
There was no joking around when it came to money.
Kasman says Gotti was awash in street cash — between $500,000 and $1 million per month poured in from all the usual suspects: construction and garment rackets, extortion, loans, gambling, drugs.
The problem for Gotti was he didn’t understand the basics of business, unlike his predecessor, Castellano, who was close pals with chicken mogul Frank Perdue and ran several legitimate enterprises, Kasman says.
“John had to learn how to run the family. Paul used to take all the money off the soldiers and captains. John shared. And he was generous to a fault. They’d say, ‘Hey, Chief, that’s a nice new tie.’ And that made him happy. But they probably just robbed him of $200,000.
“I said, ‘Smarten up, already. These captains are robbing you!’ ”
Kasman’s job was to launder the money through shell companies and real estate — a subject he declined to discuss.
But the money went out almost as fast as it came in, he says, thanks to Gotti’s boneheaded sports betting.
“John loved to gamble, but he was terrible. If he bet the Yankees, you should bet the Red Sox.”
The losses reached as much as $100,000 a week, debts that Gotti demanded were to be paid immediately, virtually all of it going to other families as no Gambino bookies felt comfortable taking the don’s action.
Settling the accounts was a job for the Nose.
“Jackie would get these boxes of cash and bring them around, and God help him if he was five minutes late. As you can imagine, it was very stressful for Jackie.”
The good times included seaside vacations to Montauk, where Gotti and Kasman would retreat to Gurney’s Inn Resort.
There the godfather could shed his trademark silk suits and pocket squares for clothing he preferred: shorts and sandals, with black socks to the knee.
The crew would go for dips in the ocean or pool — and John would drink martinis like they were water.
“Bombay Sapphire, straight up, ice cold. If it didn’t have shaved ice, the bartender got whacked.”
He devoured the thrillers of author John Grisham, who “used to send him all these signed copies of his books” and had a close friendship with former Canadian Prime Minister Brian Mulroney.
Then there was the time in Florida at a luxury penthouse of Kasman’s father-in-law on Williams Island when the crew hung out with Sophia Loren and Whitney Houston, who owned property in the same building.
“Sophia always wanted to talk to John at the pool. She seemed to have a crush on him.”
Kasman spotted Houston and jokingly asked: “ ‘So are you singing for John today?’ And she said OK. So that night we went up to her apartment, and she gave a private performance.”
Gotti was also fond of Leona Helmsley, whom he met when Kasman arranged Junior’s wedding at the Helmsley Palace, where the hotel-workers union was making trouble — a problem Jackie the Nose fixed “in about 10 minutes.”
“She kept a room for John there and wanted to pay all his legal bills, but he said no,” he recalls.
“Mrs. H,” as Kasman called Helmsley, introduced them to John Cardinal O’Connor, who became a spiritual adviser to Kasman and used to chat with him and Gotti in the parking lot of the Palace.
“We all used to park our cars there. John once said, ‘Look, he’s a Jew Boy with a cardinal — I can’t figure this out.’ ”
But Cardinal O’Connor was under no illusion as to the kind of man Gotti was.
“Lewis,” he told Kasman once, “this can’t have a good ending.”
Indeed, it didn’t.
Kasman began cooperating with the feds after he got out of prison in 1996 following his perjury conviction.
What upset him was the leadership of Junior, “who was out of control,” Kasman says.
Gotti’s relationship with his son was never good — he was close only to Angela, the oldest sibling, and Peter, the youngest.
“John didn’t trust Junior. He never took him on vacation. He saw him like just one of the crime guys. There was no father-son relationship. And Junior was lying to his father.”
And stealing from Gotti, Kasman claims.
But most disturbing was a plan Junior hatched to rub out a federal judge and target FBI agents.
“That’s when I decided to wear a wire. I felt an obligation to inform on that.”
This was not how the elder Gotti did things. In fact, during the godfather’s third trial, he says, Gotti’s investigators discovered “compromising information” about a top prosecutor in the Brooklyn US Attorney’s Office involved in the case.
“It was reliable information, with photographs, that would have been detrimental to this person’s wife and family.
“John gave the order — that information was not to be released. ‘We’re not them!’ he said. He didn’t think it was right. He said, ‘If this gets out, I will kill whoever leaked it.’ ”
The feds outfitted Kasman with a recording device “right out of a James Bond movie,” and he made more than 150 tapes.
Kasman had a couple of conditions: He would never testify against the Gottis themselves, and he wanted a “relocation package” — meaning a new identity and cash, but without having to enter witness protection.
“I didn’t want to give up my family,” he said.
His information brought down a host of top mobsters, including Peter Gotti and capo Vincent Artuso, who was part of the hit team that killed Castellano in 1985.
In exchange, he was paid about $12,000 a month for two years — and was able to avoid jail.
But he says a verbal agreement fell through, and he never got a new identity.
Kasman survives on money from friends and family, spends time with his two kids, does volunteer work and, oddly, is helping his ex-wife, because her divorce lawyers allegedly cheated her out of $500,000.
He’s glad to be done with the Mafia, and denies stealing from Gotti, claiming the real culprits were Junior and “Uncle Pete.”
“I was the gatekeeper,” he says. “Here I am a Jewish kid from Long Island, and I was Gotti’s chief of staff. I had it all.
“But I can look in the mirror. My children can be proud of me.”


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