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John Gotti was an organized crime leader who became head of the Gambino family.
The Gambinos - Mini Bio (2:08)
The Gambino crime family ruled new york city streets for decades. They were three of the most powerful mafia dons of the 20th centuries.
A preview of "Mobsters: John Gotti."
Salvatore "Sammy" Gravano, the highest-ranking mobster ever to break the mafia's blood oath of silence and testify against his boss, John Gotti, is considered the mafia's best-known "rat."
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Two weeks later, on December 16, 1985, Castellano was gunned down while eating at the Sparks Steak House in Manhattan. Gotti was made boss soon after.
By August of 1986, John Gotti had become something of a local hero and icon in his Howard Beach neighborhood. When it came time to face trial for the racketeering charges,
Gotti and the other defendants were acquitted of their crimes. FBI officials later discovered that the jury foreman fixed the verdict. It was a crushing defeat for law enforcement officials, and Gotti became the mob's symbol of invincibility, earning the name "Teflon Don" because charges against him "just wouldn't stick."
The FBI then turned the conviction of Gotti into an organizational crusade. After pressuring the Gambino family's new underboss, Sammy Gravano, into testifying against Gotti, the mob leader was finally convicted of murder and racketeering on April 2, 1992. It is estimated that, while John Gotti acted as boss, the Gambino family made more than $500 million in revenue from illegal activities such as gambling, drug trafficking, extortion, and stock fraud.
As a repeat offender, Gotti was sentenced to life in prison without possibility of parole and sent to federal prison in Marion, Illinois. According to federal prosecutors, after his imprisonment he appointed his eldest son, John "Junior" Gotti, as acting boss of the Gambino family. In 1999, his son pled guilty to racketeering charges and was sentenced to six years in prison.
John Gotti remained in jail until June 10, 2002, when he died in the federal prison hospital from complications with head and neck cancer.
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Bootleggers, smugglers, drug dealers, hit men—all these occupations are the provenance of mobsters, who operate in ethnic, family and business networks. Mobsters' real life crimes, and Hollywood's fascination with them, has earned them a special place in the American imagination. From Al Capone's Chicago crime ring to Bugsy Siegel's Las Vegas racket, these mobsters have made their names notorious from coast to coast.
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