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March 2006

Last Days of the Gotti Gang

Part Nine: The Three Victims

By J. R. de Szigethy and Lou Eppolito Jr.


     The current trial of John "Junior" Gotti on charges he ordered the 1992 kidnapping of talk show host Curtis Sliwa, an event that resulted in Sliwa being shot and nearly killed, has degenerated into a Media circus that would challenge the moral tone of a typical episode of ‘trash TV’ programs such as the Jerry Springer Show. The Fed’s star witness in the trial, Michael DiLeonardo, created a sensation on the witness stand by claiming that both Junior Gotti and his father had indulged in extra-marital affairs.

     Recognizing that ‘sex sells,’ the New York tabloids, as well as the ‘mainstream media,’ went on a feeding frenzy chasing down the bedroom activities of all principles involved in the story. Michael DiLeonardo is walking the streets of America a free man - ironically with his own girlfriend and ‘love child,’ despite murdering at least 3 people, all because the federal government gave him a ‘get-out-of-jail-free card’ in exchange for testifying against Junior Gotti. While Curtis Sliwa is pointing the finger at Junior Gotti, claiming he is responsible for his kidnapping and shooting, and the Gotti family is quick to point out the multiple sins of DiLeonardo, and DiLeonardo himself is making allegations about the private lives of the Gottis, one could make the case that all three men, each in their own way, are victims of excesses committed by the Federal government.

VICTIM NUMBER ONE: JOHN "JUNIOR" GOTTI

     Junior Gotti alleges that several years ago he made a difficult yet momentous decision; to put the best interests of his wife and kids above everyone and everything else, even if it meant defying his own father, Gambino Mafia Family Godfather John Gotti. Junior did just that in 1999, defying his father’s wishes by accepting a plea bargain on a variety of Federal charges, most notably income tax evasion. Perhaps naively, Junior Gotti planned to serve his time in Federal prison and re-emerge years later to start a new life for his wife and kids far removed from the thugs in organized crime he had once associated with.

     Secretly-recorded conversations of Junior Gotti while he has been incarcerated have made it clear that he wants out of the life of organized crime, while at the same time he is very traditional in regards to ‘family values.’ The Feds also have in their possession conversations of Junior Gotti criticizing men he was associated with who were not faithful to their wives. Junior Gotti’s wife has born him 5 children, and a 6th child is now on the way.

     Junior has also acted as a surrogate father to a number of young kids who have been in need of a male role model. One such case involves the two sons of Bobby Boriello, Junior’s former assistant who was murdered in 1991. Upon Boriello’s death, Junior provided emotional and financial support to Boriello’s widow and sons. Junior Gotti also acted as an ‘Uncle’ to the son of Michael DiLeonardo. The kid, now a young man, grew to love and respect Junior Gotti more than his own father.

     These facts about Junior Gotti are in stark contrast to the allegations put forth by government employee Michael DiLeonardo. The FBI has literally thousands of surveillance photographs of Junior Gotti, yet not a single photograph was produced to back up the allegations of DiLeonardo that Junior had an extra-marital affair. Junior Gotti is not charged with having an extra-marital affair; he is charged with ordering the kidnapping of Curtis Sliwa. Should Gotti be acquitted, many Americans will still always believe in the back of their minds that Junior Gotti had an affair with a woman who was not his wife.

VICTIM NUMBER TWO: MICHAEL ‘MIKEY SCARS’ DILEONARDO

     In 2002 Michael DiLeonardo was arrested on racketeering and murder charges that could send him to prison for the rest of his life. For 5 long months the government held DiLeonardo in Solitary Confinement. Individuals incarcerated under such conditions frequently suffer complete mental breakdowns due to the harsh physical environment and deprivation of human contact. This was, of course, what the Feds had planned all along, for, as Junior’s father had predicted in warning him not to take a plea bargain, the Feds were not finished with someone who’s surname was Gotti.

     Eventually, DiLeonardo broke down and agreed to testify against Junior Gotti.

     Whether DiLeonardo agreed to tell the truth, or tell lies, or both, the cost of such a decision came at a high price. DiLeonardo’s own son - and namesake, turned against him. Once DiLeonardo made his claims about the private lives of Junior Gotti and his father, the Media went after him in regards to his own private life. Most notably, New York Magazine published a scathing report on DiLeonardo’s sexual escapades, and how he pretty much abandoned his wife and child for another woman, with whom he had a ‘love child.’ In the process, his ex-wife and son also became victimized by this situation, as was the woman whom was alleged to have had an affair with John Gotti, and the young woman the Media gleefully reported was Gotti’s illegitimate daughter.

     Nathaniel Hawthorne’s classic novel, ‘The Scarlet Letter,’ which detailed American society’s hypocritical sexual mores in the 17th Century, suddenly seems quite relevant today.

VICTIM NUMBER THREE: CURTIS SLIWA

     As a young man, Curtis Sliwa embarked on a valiant yet dangerous career move; the Brooklyn native decided to form a ‘gang’ of his own, young men and women who would patrol the violent streets of New York as a ‘citizen’s posse,’ a group his critics would dismiss as "vigilantes." Thus, the "Guardian Angels" were born. During that time, crime had reached unparalleled levels, yet the New York City Police Department, as well as the Media, were hostile towards Sliwa and his crew. In response, Sliwa embarked on some ill-advised publicity stunts in order to pursue his organization’s agenda.

     Thus, in the Summer of 1992, when Sliwa was found on the streets of lower Manhattan with bullet holes in his body, many in the Media as well as law enforcement believed this was just another, somewhat desperate, ‘publicity stunt’ on Sliwa’s part to gain attention to his organization and radio talk show.

     For years afterward, Sliwa was bitter over his perception that the law enforcement community would not take his allegations seriously. However, as the years passed, Sliwa slowly emerged as a popular talk show host, once teamed with his political opposite, the radical left-wing criminal lawyer Ron Kuby.

     As the date neared for the release from prison of Junior Gotti, suddenly, the Feds in Manhattan began to take an interest in the long-ago shooting of Sliwa. Sliwa was left ‘out of the loop’ in the process, prompting his angry diatribes against the very law enforcement agency that was conducting the investigation.

     When Sliwa testified in the first trial last year, he was the center of the expected Media circus. However, this time around, his testimony was overshadowed by the Media frenzy regarding the sex allegations made by DiLeonardo. The New York Daily News reported that DiLeonardo’s allegations "threatens to wobble the defense team at a crucial moment." This may in fact turn out to be the case, but the pendulum could just as easily swing the other way; most Americans do not believe the Federal government has any business prying into the bedrooms of citizens, even that of an alleged criminal. Some observers of this trial were appalled and angered by the Fed’s stooping to having their witness go down the road of alleged sexual misconduct. Thus, if some jurors in Junior Gotti’s trial react the same way, the allegations of DiLeonardo may create a backlash against the government and their case.

     Should that occur, Curtis Sliwa will not receive what he perceives to be ‘Justice’ in this case because of the Federal government’s decision to open the bedroom door of John Gotti to peer into what was going on inside.

     On that day, all three men, Curtis Sliwa, Michael DiLeonardo, and John "Junior" Gotti will, each in their own way, be victims of the prosecution of the United States vs. John A. "Junior" Gotti.

To be continued

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James Ridgway de Szigethy can be reached at:
writer10021@aol.com

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