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Junior Gotti trades lockup for N.Y. mansion

After six years behind bars, the son of late mob boss John Gotti exchanged a prison cell for a pricey mansion Wednesday after his release on $7 million bond.
/ Source: news services

After six years behind bars, the son of late mob boss John Gotti swapped a prison cell for a pricey mansion Wednesday after his release on $7 million bond.

John A. “Junior” Gotti left a federal lockup in Manhattan and headed for his estate on Long Island’s Gold Coast, where he will remain under house arrest and subject to electronic monitoring.

It took two days to finalize the paperwork to spring Gotti, who claims he has renounced his mob ties after serving as boss of the Gambino crime family. A judge declared a mistrial on most charges in his racketeering case last week, clearing the way for his release pending a second trial early next year.

“I am thankful to finally be reunited with my wife and five children,” Gotti said in a statement issued by his attorney. “I did my time in prison and moved on with my life. I hope and pray that everyone will try to understand that my past is behind me and to please focus on my future and what I do from here on out.”

In a high-profile case that ended in a hung jury last week, Gotti, 41, escaped racketeering charges that included extortion and loan sharking conspiracies, as well as the attempted kidnapping of Guardian Angels founder Curtis Sliwa, after a New York jury could not reach a verdict.

He had been imprisoned after pleading guilty to racketeering charges in a separate case in 1999 and was due to be released last year before the latest charges were brought against him.

“He is finally getting to be at home with his wife and children. It’s a happy day for him,” Gotti’s lawyer Jeffrey Lichtman told reporters after the hearing.

Colorful testimony
During the trial, prosecutors said Gotti became “street boss” of the Gambino crime family in the 1990s after his infamous father, known as the “Dapper Don” for his sharp suits, went to prison, where he died of cancer in 2002.

Although Gotti did not testify, mob turncoats gave colorful accounts of bloody shootings and beatings, while Sliwa told the jury of being shot while sitting in a New York taxi cab in 1992 in an attack prosecutors said Gotti ordered after the Guardian Angels leader criticized his father on a radio show.

Prosecutor Michael McGovern cited Sliwa’s “harrowing testimony” in the trial to oppose Gotti’s freedom, fearing he might attempt to tamper with witnesses who spoke out against him before a possible retrial of the case could occur early next year.

“If Gotti would take such steps to silence a critic it must be presumed he would take such steps to silence a witness,” said McGovern during the bail hearing.

But in an apparent warning to Gotti, the judge repeatedly wondered aloud “how stupid” Gotti would be to contact any of the witnesses who testified against him.

“I keep thinking how stupid could he be? Would he really engage in obstruction of justice and witness tampering with everything to lose?” Scheindlin asked, before granting him his freedom.

As part of Gotti’s bail conditions, the judge ordered him not to contact a list of people to be provided by the government.