New York mobster Peter Gotti, brother of high-profile Mafia boss John Gotti, has died at a federal prison. The Gottis once led the Gambino crime syndicate, managing numerous vice rackets, including illegal gambling, according to authorities.
Gotti, 81, died of natural causes at the Federal Medical Center in Butner, N. C., according to the Associated Press. He had served more than 17 years on a 25-year racketeering sentence. Authorities said he took over as Gambino boss about 20 years ago.
Late last year, a federal judge in New York denied a request from Gotti to be released from prison because of COVID-19 concerns. Gotti asserted he was at risk of coronavirus exposure at the North Carolina prison.
In an earlier request to be released, Gotti said he had heart problems, dementia, blindness, and cancer. The judge also denied this request.
“The danger posed by a Gambino family leader like Gotti is not that he will personally engage in acts of violence, but that he can command others to do so,” the judge wrote.
The Gambino crime syndicate is one of the Mafia Five Families that have operated in New York City for decades. The others are the Bonanno, Genovese, Gambino, and Lucchese families.
As recently as 2018, a reputed Gambino member, John “Johnny Boy” Ambrosio, pleaded guilty in a racketeering case involving illegal gambling, according to the US Department of Justice.
‘An Unlikely Boss’
Other than a report that Gotti died of natural causes, there was no immediate indication whether he had tested positive for COVID-19.
He was known to have thyroid problems and was blind in one eye, according to Lewis Kasman, whom the Associated Press identified as a “former mobster and close confidant of John Gotti.”
Kasman said Peter Gotti was “a regular knockaround guy” whose kindness made him ill-suited to be the Gambino boss.
A lot of the captains were very upset with him because he wasn’t a strong boss,” Kasman told the AP. “The Lucchese family walked all over him.”
When it was revealed Peter Gotti was the boss, journalist Jerry Capeci told the New York Daily News the new Gambino leader not only was “an unlikely gangster, he’s an unlikely boss.”
“He would have never made the grade if not for his brother John,” Capeci said. Capeci now runs the Gang Land News website focusing on the Mafia.
John Gotti, known as the Dapper Don because of his expensive attire, was convicted in 1992 of five counts of murder and other charges. He was sentenced to life in prison. He died of cancer in 2002 at the federal medical prison in Springfield, Mo. He was 61.
End of an Era
John Gotti’s former underboss, Salvatore “Sammy the Bull” Gravano, told Newsday that Peter Gotti’s death “is the closing of the Gotti era.”
“I don’t like to hear about anybody dying in prison,” Gravano said.
At one point, Peter Gotti spent $70,000 attempting unsuccessfully to have Gravano killed, according to news accounts. Gravano had cooperated with authorities in prosecuting John Gotti.
The 75-year-old Gravano, who has admitted to killing 19 people, now has a podcast titled Our Thing, about his life as a mobster.
Among other major Mafia-related stories so far in 2021, a “maxi-trail” is underway in Italy. In the trial, hundreds of defendants reportedly linked to the ’Ndrangheta crime syndicate are charged with murder, loansharking, and more.
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