Victoria Gotti biography
Born in Brooklyn, New York, on November 27, 1962, Victoria Gotti is a writer, reality television participant and daughter of the late Gambino crime family Mafia boss, John Gotti (a.k.a. "The Dapper Don" or "The Teflon Don"). From August 2004 until December 2005, she was the star of Growing Up Gotti, an American reality television on the A&E Network.
Victoria Gotti was born on November 27, 1962, in Brooklyn, New York, to convicted mob-boss, John Gotti, and his wife, Victoria DiGiorgio. As a girl, Gotti was raised in a modest two-story house in Howard Beach, New York, with her four siblings. She was the shiest of the Gotti children; Victoria was so quiet that for several years her parents suspected their daughter was autistic.
Despite claims otherwise, Gotti says her family lived a sheltered, lower middle-class life with old-fashioned family values. Her mother made all of the children's clothes, and cut the girls' hair. As a teenager, her father was a very strict enforcer of curfews and was insistent on screening Victoria's boyfriends.
Gotti's father was also frequently in-and-out of jail during her childhood. Her mother told the family that their father was away on business as a plumbing supplier, helping to build a prison facility. "I was raised to believe...none of what you hear, and only half of what you see," Victoria has said of her early years with her father.
The young Gotti daughter was an avid reader and devoted straight-A student. She skipped two grades in high school, entering St. Johns University in 1977, at the age of 15. While she was still attending St. Johns, Victoria was diagnosed with mitral valve prolapse, a condition that makes the heart race, causing dizziness and palpitations. Her condition meant that Gotti needed to watch her health carefully, take regular medication, and occasionally wear a heart monitor.
Family Tragedy and Mob Convictions
In March of 1980, Victoria's 12-year-old brother, Frank, was hit by a car after he steered his motorbike into traffic. The accident devastated Victoria, who referred to her brother as her "little doll." Soon after the incident, her mother reportedly hospitalized the driver of the car, John Favara, after she bludgeoned him with a baseball bat. Four months later, Favara was abducted and never seen again. Victoria says she knows nothing of the incident, or her family's relation to Favara's disappearance.
Despite the tragedy, Gotti was determined to finish college and pursue a law degree, but she dropped out when she decided she was "too shy" to become a lawyer. In 1984, shortly after leaving school, she married her high school sweetheart and "first real boyfriend," scrap-metal dealer, Carmine Agnello. Together, the couple had three sons, Carmine, Frank and John, as well as a daughter, Justine, who was stillborn.
In 1992, when Victoria was 30 years old, her father, John Gotti, was convicted of racketeering and five counts of murder. He was sentenced to life without parole. For Victoria, his imprisonment came as a shock.
She denied the court's allegations, and remained devoted to her father. "They don't make men like him anymore," she has said of the alleged mob-boss, "and they never will."
In 1995, Gotti wrote her first book, Women and Mitral Valve Prolapse. Inspired by her own struggle with the illness, the book documented her heart condition in relatable terms, and was critically acclaimed by patients and doctors alike. This non-fiction success led to her career in fiction writing, and in 1997, her mystery novel The Senator's Daughter hit bookstores to solid reviews.
Husband's Imprisonment and Divorce
In 1999, Gotti published her second work of fiction, I'll Be Watching You, which also received high praise. But this same year, Victoria's family faced more hardship when brother, John "Junior" Gotti, pled guilty to extortion and bribery. He was sentenced to 77 months in prison.
The year 2000 was another emotional one for Gotti and her family. She published her third book, Superstar, and her husband was arrested for using extortion and arson to frighten a Queens business competitor. The "competitors" were actually undercover New York investigators, who had set up surveillance units to track Agnello. Victoria's husband faced up to 29 years in prison, and stood to lose his $4 million Long Island mansion, which he had put up in 1998 as bail for brother-in-law, Junior Gotti.
In addition to catching the scrap-metal magnate's illegal behavior, the videos captured Agnello's numerous infidelities with his bookkeeper. Victoria, angered by her husband's public betrayal, still stood by him, posting the royalties from her most recent book and the other half of the couples' mansion as bail money. A federal judge denied bail, claiming Agnello was a "threat to the community."
In 2002, Gotti's father passed away in a federal prison hospital after struggling with head and neck cancer. As the family's resident author, Victoria was asked by The New York Post to write an obituary for her father. The article hit papers on the same day as her father's funeral.
In 2003, Gotti and her husband finally reached their breaking point and Victoria filed for divorce, citing "constructive abandonment." Gotti received $12,500 a month in alimony and an additional $12,500 a month for her sons in a package worth an estimated $7 million. Agnello was released from prison in 2007, after serving a nine-year sentence.
In 2004, Gotti and her teenage sons became the subjects of a reality show on A&E called Growing Up Gotti. The boys quickly became celebrity heart-throbs, and were commonly referred to as "the hottie Gottis." The show was filmed in the family's seven-bedroom mansion on Long Island, and remained on the air until 2005.
In August of 2005, Victoria made headlines again when she announced she had breast cancer. The claim was later denied and her publicist, Matt Rich, whose mother passed away from the same disease, quit over the incident. Gotti later announced that tests had only discovered precancerous cells, and blamed media outlets for exaggerating her claims.
A former New York Post columnist and channel 5 reporter, Gotti is the author of several books, including her recent memoir This Family of Mine: What It Was Like Growing Up Gotti. She has also served as editor-at-large for Star magazine. In December 2011, Gotti took on another media role. She became the editor-in-chief at large for Reality Weekly. As part of her new job, Gotti writes her own column.
In February 2012, Gotti herself returned to reality television as a contestant on Donald Trump's business competition The Celebrity Apprentice. She faced off against the likes of actor George Takei, singer Clay Aiken, and fellow reality star Teresa Giudice to win money for her chosen charity, the Association to Benefit Children.