Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Sammy 'The Bull' Gravano

Dealing with the Gotti Ego

Throughout his organized crime career, Gravano had always striven to keep a low profile. Gotti was the exact opposite. Creating an image for himself that he believed his "public" wanted, the "Dapper Don," as the media now referred to him, did little to stay out of the public eye.

John Gotti
John Gotti (Corbis)

In addition, Gotti wanted all his men to continually pay homage to him. Gravano and Locascio were required to be at the Ravenite five nights a week. The family capos were to come at least once each week. Gotti's arrival at the Ravenite was met with the pomp and circumstance he desired with his minions lining up to greet and kiss the pompous leader. All of this took place while the government's surveillance cameras snapped pictures and listening devices were recording.

Gravano once cautioned his boss, "I told him, 'John why are we meeting in the club? They're all outside. Cops, state guys, federal guys. What are we doing here?" To which Gotti replied, "I know what I'm doing. F*** the government. They're nothing. Don't worry about it."

Gotti kept talking and the FBI bugs kept recording. Listening devices were planted at the Bergin and the Ravenite. Agents monitored them whenever the mobsters met. One of the FBI's coups was the planting of bugs in an apartment above the Ravenite where Gotti felt completely safe to run at the mouth. Between November 30, 1989 and January 24, 1990 Gotti would spill enough of the family's secrets to finally bring the walls crashing down. In January 1990 Gotti went to trial for ordering an assault on carpenter's union boss John O'Connor. The union leader had ordered a goon squad to wreck a restaurant that was being renovated because non-union workers were being used. O'Connor didn't know that a Gambino associate owned a piece of the business.

The trial produced another performance of Gotti's increasingly arrogant defense attorney Bruce Cutler, whose attitude reached the point that even Gotti told him to tone it down. Before testifying, O'Connor, who had been shot in the legs and rear end by members of the Irish gang called the Westies, was warned by Gravano about the consequences his action would cause. When O'Connor was called to the stand, he told the court he had no idea who shot him or why.

On February 9, 1990 Gotti was acquitted. Overnight the "Dapper Don" had become the "Teflon Don," and his ego would grow even bigger.

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