Feds can use tapes in alleged Gotti mob trial

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Federal prosecutors are gearing up for the upcoming racketeering trial of suspected mob boss Peter Gotti of Howard Beach and have won the right to include videotape, cassette tape and transcript evidence in the proceedings, officials said.

The defendant’s late brother, John Gotti, who was head of the Gambino crime family and died last year at the age of 61 from throat cancer at a Missouri prison hospital, appears on one of the tapes, officials said.

At the heart of the evidence is a cassette tape that a judge has given prosecutors the approval to play that includes conversations John Gotti had with other members of the crime family, according to court papers.

Peter Gotti and 16 others are charged with extortion, wire fraud, labor racketeering, money laundering, illegal gambling and witness tampering in the case that focuses on the Gambino family’s ties to labor unions and businesses operating at city piers.

John Gotti, who was serving a life sentence for murder and racketeering, was jailed in 1992 after his trusted associate, Sammy “the Bull” Gravano, turned on the mob and testified against him as a government witness in Brooklyn. Federal officials contend Gotti’s brother, Peter, took over John’s responsibilities as head of the Gambino organized crime.

During one of the tapes, recorded on Jan. 17, 1986, John Gotti is said to have discussed amounts of money paid to him by members of the Gambino family operating extortion schemes at various city waterfront locations, the court papers said.

“Small scores. Every week, there’s a score $300, $500 from, from the dock so I put it aside. ...Then I bring it in,” John Gotti is alleged to have said on a tape explaining how lesser members of the family would pay him a portion of the goods taken from the dock sites, the court papers revealed.

Gerald Shargel, Peter Gotti’s attorney, said he is prepared to defend his client against the charges.

“I’m optimistic about the case; we’re going to spend a great deal of time trying to pick a fair and impartial jury,” he said. “This close to the trial, it’s too close to comment on the evidence, though,” he said.

Peter Gotti, who is alleged to have helped orchestrate illegal activities at piers in Brooklyn and Staten Island and the corruption of labor unions operating along city waterfronts, was charged in June in a 68-count indictment along with 16 other members and associates of the Gambino organized crime family, federal prosecutors said in court papers.

Jury selection in the trial begins Jan. 6 and once that is finished, the trial and opening statements will begin immediately, federal officials said.

Neither of the two prosecutors, Andrew Genser or Katya Jestin, would comment because the case is still pending.

The case and charges against Peter Gotti and other members and associates of the Gambino crime family were brought after a three-year, multi-agency investigation that included the use of court-authorized eavesdropping devices, wiretaps and other surveillance methods to keep tabs on the defendants, the court papers said.

The 17 defendants are also accused of rigging the selection of executive positions in the International Longshoremen’s Association, AFL-CIO, a national labor organization which represents 85,000 longshoremen and other laborers at piers throughout the country, according to the court papers.

Reach reporter Alex Davidson by e-mail at or by phone at 229-0300, Ext. 156.

Updated 10:25 am, October 12, 2011
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