For this Gotti, it’s time to say, “I’m sorry.”
Peter Gotti, who picked up the reins of the Gambino crime family from his dying brother John in 2002 just before being jailed and convicted on two of his own racketeering indictments, is now expressing remorse and seeking a compassionate release from prison under the First Step Act of 2018, Gang Land has learned.
In a seven-page motion for release filed last week in Manhattan Federal Court, one that would likely have sent his brother John into a foaming lather of rage, Peter Gotti, who is currently serving a 25-year sentence at a federal prison hospital in North Carolina, renounces the criminal lifestyle that put him behind bars 17 years ago. As part of his atonement for a career of Mafia mayhem, Gotti states that he wants “to help others not make the life mistakes he made,” the application states.
If successful, the 79-year old Gotti, a former city sanitation worker who rose through the Mafia ranks alongside his notorious Mafia boss brother, would return to his daughter’s home in Howard Beach, Queens more than a dozen years earlier than his scheduled release in 2032.
“Being incarcerated now for 17 years plus has caused him to reevaluate his thinking and reconsider his moral values,” wrote Gotti attorney James Craven in the court filing. “No longer does he try to justify his actions or defend the choices he made that brought him to prison.”
In an interview, Craven, a North Carolina-based attorney who has developed a small cottage industry handling successful release applications under the prison sentencing reform act passed by Congress in 2018 and signed into law by President Trump, said those words are Gotti’s own.
And although there is no specific reference to the Mafia or his role in the Gambino crime family, the filing leaves little doubt that Gotti is referring to his days as a high ranking member of Cosa Nostra.
“He wants now to tell anyone who will listen that there is truly zero benefit to unlawful activity,” the lawyer wrote. “He has hurt other people, including family members, and he wants to spend the balance of his life making amends as best he can.”
Gotti is not “the 62 year old man” who was involved in the racketeering activity he was convicted of at trials in Brooklyn and Manhattan Federal Court, “nor does he in any way deny his guilt or responsibility” for those crimes, wrote Craven.
The newly apologetic posture of the oldest Gotti brother is a far cry from the views of John Gotti, who famously told his son John (Junior) Gotti that he would deny robbing a church if he was caught with “a steeple sticking out of my ass.”
It’s also worlds away from how another brother, Gene Gotti, a capo in the crime family, dealt with his own lengthy prison term for drug dealing: Towards the end of his decades-long sentence, Gene notably refused to ask for a sure-to-be granted early release to a halfway house, and was released last year only after serving every day of his prison term.
In his changed attitude, Peter Gotti is clearly in step with his former acting boss nephew, Junior Gotti, who publicly disavowed his father’s criminal outfit back in 2005. Stating that he had quit the mob, Junior Gotti was able to hang prosecutors out to dry four times when they tried but failed to convict him on racketeering charges between 2005 and 2009.
It’s not clear whether the ailing mob boss, whose Manhattan conviction includes a plot to kill turncoat underboss Salvatore (Sammy Bull) Gravano, has already informed his bourghata that he is stepping down. Regardless, the crime family will immediately depose Gotti from his mob post, said Michael (Mikey Scars) DiLeonardo, the turncoat Gambino capo who testified against Gotti at his 2004 trial.
DiLeonardo told Gang Land that the crime family, which has been controlled by its Sicilian faction for more than a decade, will be hard pressed not to depose Peter if he is still the “official boss,” of the crime family, as he and many mob busters believe.
“If they do it the right way,” said DiLeonardo, “the captains will take a vote, and take him down, and put him on a shelf.”
“They have to do that,” Mikey Scars continued. “He’s doing the same thing that John (Junior) did, he’s quitting the mob.”
In the wake of the murder of Gambino underboss Francesco (Frank) Cali in March, law enforcement sources say that the two wiseguys at the top are Sicilian faction members, Lorenzo Mannino, 60, and Domenico (Italian Dom) Cefalu, 72, and that the third member of the Administration is consigliere Michael (Mickey Boy) Paradiso, 79.
Family leaders will have to strip Peter Gotti of whatever title he has, even if he’s only a soldier, not only to retain credibility with their members, but “also with the other families,” said DiLeonardo. “They can’t have the boss of the family, or even a made guy, violate omerta without punishment. He’s not a rat, he’s not giving anybody up, but he’s violating the oath.”
For what it’s worth, Mikey Scars likes Gotti. “He’s a nice guy, he never should have been made boss in the first place,” said DiLeonardo, stating he hopes Gotti is successful. But he cautions him to lay low if he does. “Pete will certainly have a tough time if he gets out and tries to assert himself with the family, that’s for sure,” he said.
In the motion, attorney Craven cites 22 medical ailments, including heart disease, blindness in one eye, kidney disease, gout, an enlarged prostate, “borderline anemia,” a “cancerous growth in at least one lung,” and the early onset of dementia, as reasons why he should be allowed to live out the rest of his life with his daughter, Diane.
“He is very seriously ill and clearly on an end of life trajectory and in a debilitated medical condition,” wrote Craven. “When the time comes, Peter Gotti understandably wants to die at home.”
“The health of his heart and lungs has deteriorated markedly in recent years,” wrote Craven. “His vital organs have been compromised by disease, and the continual use of high risk medications to treat the various illnesses has dramatically diminished any chance that he may have had to recover.”
Noting that “Gotti made a terrible mistake in going to trial rather” than accept a plea deal and a much shorter sentence, the attorney wrote that a “compassionate release now would in no way minimize the severity of his offense, nor endanger anyone or anything.” Craven noted that Gotti has completed a nine year term for racketeering on the Brooklyn waterfront and that “as of July 4, 2019, with BOP good time, he will have served (the equivalent of) 235.5 months” behind bars.
Contacted by Gang Land, the attorney wouldn’t predict the outcome of his motion but the lawyer insisted that his client deserves to be granted a release under the First Step Act.
“He’s not in good shape,” said Craven, noting that medical records at the Bureau of Prisons and Duke University Medical Center where he has been treated document Gotti’s ailments. “He’s got a ton of stuff wrong with him. No one would sell him a life insurance policy. He’s 79, and he’s not a young 79.”
The attorney said he had filed “a lot” of motions for compassionate release under the First Step Act and that Gotti’s motion is “one of the longer ones” that he has filed. “I’ve had nine decided so far,” he said. “Eight we won. Four of them the government opposed, and we still won. We lost one and it’s on appeal, and I’m confident that we’ll prevail on that one ultimately.”
Craven said after consultation with Gotti and his family, he filed his motion in Manhattan Federal Court when the BOP didn’t respond to his request for a compassionate release within 30 days, as it is required to do under the First Step Act.
Regarding the language attributed to Peter Gotti in the motion that Gang Land, Mikey Scars, and several law enforcement officials say is likely to be frowned on by his brother Gene, and current Gambino leaders, Craven said: “Much of the language in the motion was his, taken from him, and from letters he wrote.”
Jerry Capeci is the founder of ganglandnews.com, where this article first appeared.