Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Sammy 'The Bull' Gravano

Sammy Testifies

On February 12, 1992 opening statements were given in the trial of John Gotti and Frank Locascio. (Thomas Gambino was severed and given a separate trial in which he was convicted and sentenced to five years in prison.) In Albert Kreigers statement, he boomed away at the twelve jurors and six alternatives describing Gravano as a little man full of evil, connivance, manipulation and vanity who has tried to clear his slate by admitting to nineteen murders! Staring intently at the jury box he bellowed, There are only eighteen of you here! We dont have enough chairs to put all the victims in!

During the first two weeks of the trial, the government played the tapes from the Cirillo apartment as well as the others recorded from the Ravenite and the hallway beside it, and questioned many government agents. The courthouse, when testimony was not going on, had a circus-like atmosphere with Gotti loyalists Carlo Vaccarezza and Lewis Kasman orchestrating the production. They brought in celebrity cheerleaders, such as actors John Amos, Al Lewis, Mickey Rourke and Anthony Quinn to provide testimonials about the much-maligned Gambino boss to the news media.

Sammy Gravano at a hearing
Sammy Gravano at a hearing (AP)

On the afternoon of March 2, the moment everyone had anxiously anticipated arrived. Sammy Gravano was sworn in to begin testimony that would last an incredible nine days. As Gravano took the witness stand, he could feel the eyes of Gotti and his courtroom supporters bore in on him. He was nervous at first, but his demeanor would quickly turn to anger when he realized that Gottis people were about to pull a stunt right out of the Godfather: Part II movie.

Seated with Gambino Family members was Joey DAngelo, the son of his former loyal crewmember who Gravano helped raise. FBI agents earlier in the day had recognized what Gottis men were up to and brought it to the attention of Judge I. Leo Glasser who ordered DAngelo out of the front row. As Gravanos testimony began, DAngelo rose from his seat, slowly shuffled toward the main aisle, and then paused for a dramatic stare at Gravano before exiting the courtroom, and then later returning.

The move rattled Gravano, but solidified his resolve to destroy Gotti. After court adjourned for the day, Gravano spewed his wrath in front of the prosecution team. From Gotti: The Rise and Fall: 

Did you see that fuckin kid? I helped him out his whole fuckin life. Three years ago, he came to me beggin for work. Now he comes here and tried to rattle me. Get up, walk out, come back. Whats this, a movie? Fuck im and fuck them!

By the time Gravanos testimony was complete the trial was over for all intents and purposes. The only witness the defense put on the stand was a tax attorney for Gotti, whom Gleeson ripped apart during cross-examination. After final arguments the case went to the jury and on April 2, 1992 they returned with their verdict. As James Fox, the chief of the FBIs New York office told reporters, The Teflon is gone. The Don is covered with Velcro. Gotti and Locascio were convicted.

On June 23 the two men were sentenced to multiple life terms without any possibility of parole. In a rehearsed address prior to the sentencing Locascio stated, I am guilty of being a good friend of John Gotti. If there were more men like John Gotti on this earth, we would have a better country.

Meanwhile, outside Junior Gotti had organized a small riot with a mob moving toward the courthouse chanting Free John Gotti. Several hundred New York police officers, many of whom were injured, were called in to quell the unrest.

Hours after his sentence was imposed John Gotti, who had a lifelong fear of flying, was secreted aboard an airplane and flown to the maximum security prison in Marion, Illinois, to begin his sentence.

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