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)

Gotti furious over fed leaks


Facing the possibility of new federal charges, John A. "Junior" Gotti (left) yesterday launched into a tirade over year-old federal leaks indicating he ratted on fellow mobsters, according to a story by Thomas Zambito of the New York Daily News.

Gotti went to great lengths to cut a deal with federal agents in 2005, according to a June 15, 2006, story by Kati Cornell of the New York Post. The Cornell story indicated that Gotti confessed to a number of crimes and provided the FBI with information against a number of underworld colleagues. Gotti refused to admit guilt to the most serious charges against him, and federal prosecutors decided not to reach a plea deal with him, the story said. Gotti was tried in federal court three times, each ending in mistrial.

Yesterday, Gotti blasted federal agents for leaking reports on the plea bargaining and making it appear that the former boss of the Gambino Crime Family had turned on his old friends.

"It put my children in harm's way," Gotti said. "It put my family in harm's way - 100 percent. My family lives in fear."

Federal prosecutors are looking into the possibility of bringing new charges against Gotti, son of the late Gambino Crime Family boss John J. Gotti. Defense attorney Charles Carnesi told the press, "If, in fact, somebody is so misguided as to bring charges on the basis of liars and murderers who are looking to get themselves out of jail, then we'll address them at that time..."

Prosecutors are also seeking to have Gotti returned to prison for the alleged violation of an earlier probation. They say Gotti failed to pay the government $200,000 in back taxes. Gotti denied the allegation and said he recently made a tax payment of $80,000 that was borrowed from friends and family.

About Me

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Editor/publisher of crime history journal, Informer. Publisher of American Mafia history website mafiahistory.us. 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.