Feature Articles

August 2005

Last Days of the Gotti Gang

Part Four: Curtis Sliwa Gets His Day In Court

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


     On this, one of the Holiest of days of the Christian calendar, many New Yorkers are celebrating in the traditions handed down in their particular family. For some, it means spending a quiet evening with their family exchanging gifts. For others, it means taking in the spectacular of the �Rockettes� at the annual Christmas extravaganza at Radio City Music Hall. Outside that building, many thousands of others will marvel at the stories-high Christmas tree that illuminates those few skaters circling the ice rink below. Many other New Yorkers will spend the evening watching "It�s a Wonderful Life," the movie classic of an average, desperate American whose life is saved by Divine Intervention.

     For a member of the John Gotti family, however, this evening will be spent in a secret ceremony of Evil. On that night, John "Junior" Gotti was inducted as a �Made Man� into the Gambino Mafia Family in a blood ritual overseen by Underboss Sammy "The Bull" Gravano. Joining Junior in this act of Will was his closest friend Michael "Mikey Scars" DiLeonardo, among others. A knife would be used in this incantation, and the eternal flames of Hell would be invoked as the young men dedicated themselves to a lifetime of crime.

Nothing Good would come of this pact with the Devil.

     17 years later, Mikey Scars would spend what will be likely his last moment in the same room with John "Junior" Gotti. The setting was the Courtroom of Judge Shira Scheindlin in Manhattan Federal Court, with Prosecution Witness DiLeonardo taking the stand just a few feet away from his lifelong friend, Junior. Mikey Scars detailed for the Prosecution the Sins he had committed during his life of crime, including murder, including his last effort which failed, that being when his intended victim was himself. Such was the pain he claimed to have experienced over betraying Junior by co-operating with the government that he felt suicide would be more honorable than facing Junior in Court. As is often the case, even those adept at killing others often fail to succeed when they themselves are their target. Thus, Mikey Scars lived another day to betray Junior and the Gotti Gang on the Witness Stand.

     The angst and pain Mikey Scars and Junior apparently felt during this dramatic confrontation was in stark contrast to the earlier testimony by Guardian Angels founder Curtis Sliwa. For 13 years Sliwa had longed to have his day in Court in which he would detail the events of an evening in June, 1992, when the outspoken critic of the Gotti Gang stepped into a cab to take him to his job as a radio talk show host. There, in that stolen cab, Sliwa was trapped by doors and windows rigged not to open, and a gunman hidden in the front passenger side of the car began opening fire point-blank at Sliwa with a handgun. Miraculously, Sliwa, having been shot at least twice by that time, somehow managed to propel his body past the gunman and out the open window on the front passenger side. Such an unlikely scenario contributed to the rumors at the time that the shooting was just some sort of publicity stunt Sliwa had concocted.

     At the time of Sliwa's shooting New York City was at the height of an unprecedented era of lawlessness during the dark days of the Administration of Mayor David Dinkins. During those four years, 8,000 people would be murdered in New York City. Every Fourth of July during the Dinkins Administration police officers stood by outside the Gotti Gang�s headquarters, the Bergin Hunt and Fish Club in Ozone Park, to ensure no one interfered with John Gotti�s right to hold a massive illegal fireworks display. Such police protection of the Gotti Gang was in stark contrast to the treatment Sliwa and the members of his organization received from some members of law enforcement carrying out a hostile agenda against them.

     Many at the time did not take seriously Sliwa�s claims that, according to his various sources, it was members of John "Junior" Gotti�s crew that had abducted and shot him. Then, years later, on the Witness Stand recalling his nightmare, Sliwa had to endure hours of cross-examination by Junior�s criminal lawyer, who left no stone unturned in his attempt to discredit the victim of this shooting. Whether or not such tactics by this lawyer alienated the jurors against client Gotti remains to be seen.

     Curtis Sliwa had walked into that Courtroom that day seeking what he considers to be Justice. Sliwa will return to that Courthouse once more when the Verdict is delivered. Junior Gotti claims he has renounced the Mafia and just wants to leave his past behind and write children�s books. Most of his co-horts in crime are now either dead, in prison, or in the Witness Protection Program. Thus, when the Verdict is rendered, Junior Gotti will either go to prison for most of the rest of his life, or he will go free, but in either event, when that Judgment occurs, that will be the last day of the Gotti Gang.

To be continued

Related Features

Last Days of the Gotti Gang
Part Three: "Dirty Dozen" Trial of Junior Gotti Begins

Last Days of the Gotti Gang:
Part Two: Peter Gotti Convicted, Junior Awaits Trial

Last Days of the Gotti Gang
Part One: The Two Godfathers vs. the Two Ladies

Ends of Evil: The Final Days of Sammy "The Bull" Gravano

Christmas In Murdertown:
The Mafia Conspiracy That Stunned America

James Ridgway de Szigethy can be reached at:

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