Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Editorial: Justice must put a stop to leaks

Though we seldom if ever find ourselves siding with John A. "Junior" Gotti on an issue, this time we have to admit he has a point. Last summer's federal government leaks relating to Gotti plea bargaining sessions in 2005 were inappropriate and probably criminal. We feel there is reason to believe that they were also a premeditated effort to terrorize Gotti into a guilty plea.

Obviously, federal prosecutors did not have the best possible case against Gotti. They failed three times with essentially the same evidence against him. They must have known that the statute of limitations on racketeering would be an enormous obstacle, as most of the evidence of Gotti racketeering is related to events of long ago.

It appears that some individual or group decided that chances for a guilty verdict would be improved if Gotti could be made to fear his old underworld friends. Information about plea bargaining sessions was leaked and possibly altered to make it seem that Gotti had already flipped to the side of law enforcement and was ratting out his old buddies to the FBI in exchange for a light sentence. Given the history of the case, it now appears that leak was entirely false.

Similar rumors and suspicions previously have caused crime families to go after those believed to be cooperating or on the verge of cooperating with authorities. And, at times, they have caused defendants, suddenly finding themselves targets of gangland discipline, to rush into genuine cooperative arrangements in order to protect their lives.

We cannot know for certain that terrorizing Gotti into a plea deal and a cooperative mood was the motivation behind the leaks. However, it is difficult to see any other reason.

The Justice Department should condemn such tactics, as they put in jeopardy the lives of defendants and their families. We note also that, should harm come to Gotti as a result of this leak, some person or group on the side of law enforcement would be as guilty of murder conspiracy as many of the racketeers prosecuted by the department.

- View Gotti-Carnesi discussion with the press (WCBS-TV New York)

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Editor/publisher of crime history journal, Informer. Publisher of American Mafia history website Moderator of Mafia-related Google+ community and Yahoo discussion group. Author of Wrongly Executed? Coauthor of Deep Water: Joseph P. Macheca and the Birth of the American Mafia and DiCarlo: Buffalo's First Family of Crime. Contributor of American Mafia history to Australian-published Mafia: The Necessary Reference to Organized Crime. Writer/co-writer of crime history articles for Informer, On the Spot Journal, Cigar City Magazine, Tampa Mafia Magazine.