Mafia boss John “Teflon Don” Gotti, so nicknamed after escaping unscathed from several trials during the 1980s, seemed like a guy who was impossible to convict. Gotti was born and educated in New York City. He became head of the powerful Gambino family after boss Paul Castellano was murdered outside a steakhouse in Manhattan in December 1985. There had not been a gang assassination in New York in three decades. Gotti and his colleague Sammy “The Bull” Gravano changed all that. The Gambino family was well-known for its illegal narcotics operations, gambling activities, and car thefts. When Gotti took over, he wanted to show his new-found power, so he expanded the criminal empire over the next five years. Under Gotti, the family grew into the nation’s most powerful Mafia family.

Over the years he was in charge, Gotti managed to avoid conviction several times, despite wide publicity of his criminal activities. Gotti had no problem ordering witness intimidation any time he had a scrape with the law. His plan seemed to be working well, until 1990, when he was indicted for conspiracy to commit murder in the death of Paul Castellano. This time was going to be different. Gravano wasn’t real keen on prison time, and the thought of a deal, any kind of a deal, was very appealing. So, Gravano agreed to testify against Gotti in a federal district court in exchange for a reduced prison sentence. With Gravano’s testimony, John Gotti was found guilty on all 14 counts of conspiracy to commit murder and racketeering, on April 2, 1992. Then, on June 23, 1992, “Teflon Don” finally ran out of his non-stick coating. He was sentenced to multiple life terms without the possibility of parole. All his prior intimidations had done him no good. He might have been able to get away with it for a while, but now it had all come back to haunt him…and there was no escape.

While his life was essentially over, Gotti had many supporters, and just moments after his sentence was read in a federal courthouse in Brooklyn, hundreds of those supporters stormed the building. They also overturned and smashed cars before being forced back by police reinforcements. It made no difference. While still imprisoned, Gotti died of throat cancer on June 10, 2022.

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