John Gotti, the Last Mafia Icon
The 'Velcro' Don
The jurors began their deliberations on the morning of Wednesday, April 1. After just 13 hours, the jury returned the following day, having found Gotti guilty of all the charges and Locascio guilty of all except one gambling count. James M. Fox, the assistant director in charge of the FBI's New York office, uttered his famous line, "The don is covered with Velcro, and every charge stuck." This was followed by Andrew Maloney's comment, "It's been a long road. Justice has been served and it feels awfully good." Meanwhile, prosecutor Gleeson told reporters, "We are very proud of what we've done. We have a great deal of admiration for a very courageous jury." Judge Glasser set his sentencing date for June 23.
The calls of guilty were not yet through ringing in the courtroom when the organized crime pundits were selecting a new boss for the Gambino Crime Family. The New York Times was already reporting that law enforcement authorities had revealed that 73-year-old capo James Failla was appointed acting boss by Gotti when he was arrested in December 1990. In addition to Peter Gotti and John's son, Junior, whom the "experts" claimed would not be good choices, other names being bandied around were Thomas Gambino, Joe Arcuri, Joseph "Butch" Corrao, Nicholas Corozzo, Robert Bisaccia and Daniel Marino.
Appeals for new trials normally take place after the defendant has been sentenced. However, John Gotti was no normal defendant. A veritable dream team of lawyers took up his cause a day before sentencing was to take place. The team of attorneys, in addition to Krieger, Cardinale, Mitchell and Cutler, included William M. Kunstler and Ronald L. Kuby. The group was requesting a delay in the sentencing and a motion to set aside the verdict due to affidavits from two jurors who came forward to claim the conviction verdict was unfair. One juror, the last one to be removed, stated she was replaced because she claimed she saw FBI Agent George Gabriel, while sitting at the prosecution table, "flash" a signal to fellow agent Louis Schiliro on the witness stand. The other juror was alleged to have been concerned about his wife's health, but was kept on the jury and pressured into a quick verdict. Judge Glasser rejected the appeal.
On June 23, 1992, John Gotti and Frank Locascio stood before Judge Glasser to receive their sentence. The session lasted less than ten minutes. Asked if he had anything to say, the 51 year-old Gotti silently shook his head, no. Bruce Cutler, barred from representing his famous client during trial, was permitted to stand with him during the sentencing. Cutler responded for Gotti, "No, your honor." Judge Glasser told Gotti, "the guidelines in your case require me to commit you to the custody of the Attorney General for the duration of your life."
When asked if he had anything to say before sentence was pronounced, Frank Locascio produced a handwritten statement. "First, I would like to say emphatically that I am innocent." After denying every charge against him, Locascio continued, "I am guilty though; I am guilty of being a good friend of John Gotti. And if there were more men like John Gotti on this earth, we would have a better country." Judge Glasser handed down a repeat sentence: life in prison without parole. After the sentencing, Gotti patted his co-defendant on the shoulder and said, "We have just begun to fight."
In September 1998, the New York Daily News reported that Gotti put out a murder contract on his former consigliere. By now Gravano's book, Underboss, had been released, and Gotti was infuriated about comments Sammy related about Locascio, after an incident when the three were in the MCC in 1991. Gotti had belittled Locascio in front of other inmates after he had stolen some oranges and gave one to Gravano before offering one to Gotti. According to Gravano, an emotionally upset Locascio claimed, "The minute I get out, I'm killing this motherfucker."
Meanwhile, outside the courthouse a riot, allegedly organized by John A. "Junior" Gotti, was in full force. An estimated 800 to 1,000 demonstrators, who arrived in 12 chartered buses, began with flag-waving and chanting. When the sentence was announced, violence began. The rioters targeted cars parked in front of the courthouse. Some were turned over, others the crowd jumped upon and shouted, "Free John Gotti!" Eight police officers were injured during the melee and a dozen protestors were arrested.