Man charged with tampering in Gotti’s 1992 trial

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A reputed Gambino crime family member from New Jersey was charged last week with allegedly planning to tamper with the jury deciding the fate of John “Dapper Don” Gotti during the mob boss’ racketeering and murder trial in 1992, the U.S. attorney in Manhattan said.

U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said the plan was called off by Gotti, who earned the nickname “Teflon Don” after beating federal charges three times before, because the mob boss was confident he would walk again.

But Gotti, who controlled the Gambino crime family from his home in Howard Beach, was wrong and ended up sentenced to life in prison due in part to his involvement in 13 murders. He died in federal prison of throat cancer in 2002.

Onofrio Modica, 46, of Manalapan, N.J., faces life in prison if convicted of witness tampering, Bharara said.

Bharara claimed Modica and other Gambino members located the hotel where the sequestered jurors in Gotti’s 1992 trial were staying and “penetrated various security measures.”

Modica was one of 14 reputed Gambino crime family members charged with crimes ranging from murder to loansharking to illegal gambling and sex trafficking, including an allegation that the mob pimped out a 15-year-old girl for sex, Bharara said.

Besides the witness tampering count, Modica was also charged with racketeering conspiracy, racketeering, illegal gambling, extortion, assault in aid of racketeering, conspiracy to make extortionate extensions of credit and conspiracy to collect extortionate extensions of credit, Bharara said.

Daniel Marino, the reputed head of the Gambino crime family, was also arrested in the mob sweep, the U.S. attorney said.

“The Mafia is not dead. It is alive and kicking,” Bharara said. “Modern mobsters may be less colorful, less flamboyant and less glamorous than some of their predecessors, but they are still terrorizing businesses, using baseball bats and putting people in the hospital.”

None of the 14 reputed mob members arrested were from Queens.

Reach reporter Howard Koplowitz by e-mail at hkoplowitz@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4573.

Updated 5:57 pm, October 10, 2011
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