Coronavirus

Judge Denies Early Release for Reputed Mafia Boss Over Prison COVID-19 Exposure

A judge this week denied reputed Mafia boss Peter Gotti’s request for an early release from prison. The 81-year-old brother of former Gambino leader John Gotti oversaw a criminal enterprise involved in racketeering, illegal gambling, and more, officials said.

Authorities maintain a grip on Peter Gotti while escorting him to a new location. A judge has denied the reputed Mob leader’s request for an early release from prison. (Image: New York Daily News)

Manhattan Federal Judge Colleen McMahon on Tuesday dismissed Peter Gotti’s plea to be set free, according to the New York Daily News.

Gotti argued he is at risk of coronavirus exposure at the Butner Federal Medical Center in North Carolina, the newspaper reported. Three inmates and six staff members at the prison have tested positive for COVID-19.

In an earlier request to be set free, Gotti said he is suffering from heart problems, dementia, blindness, and cancer, the Daily News reported. The judge denied this earlier request, saying Gotti is still a threat to society.

This week, she wrote, “Nothing has changed since last January — not even the threat of COVID-19 — to cause this court to alter its earlier decision.”

She had previously said Gotti was head of “one of the most vicious and violent organized crime organizations in New York.” 

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 Dapper Don

In a letter to the court during the previous request, Gotti said he wanted to be at home with his family “and tell anyone who will listen that I am a changed man and that there is no benefit to unlawful activities.” 

I truly regret my choices that hurt so many, and in the little time I have left on this Earth, would hope to be able to share some of my wisdom to help others not make the same kind of mistakes that I have made,” Gotti wrote. 

Gotti has served 18 years on a 25-year racketeering sentence, according to news accounts. Authorities have said he took over the Gambino crime family in 1999.

His brother, John Gotti, was a high-profile, reputed Gambino boss known as the Dapper Don. John Gotti was convicted in 1992 on numerous charges, including five counts of murder. He was sentenced to life in prison and died of cancer in 2002 at the federal medical lockup in Springfield, Missouri. He was 61.

Sammy the Bull

For  leniency, ex-Gambino underboss Salvatore “Sammy The Bull” Gravano aided authorities in prosecuting his former leader, John Gotti.

Peter Gotti later spent $70,000 attempting to have Gravano killed, according to the Daily News. He sent two would-be assassins to the West Coast and Arizona to find Gravano.

The effort was unsuccessful. The 75-year-old Gravano, who has admitted to killing 19 people, is active on social media, including Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube. 

This month Gravano debuted a podcast titled Our Thing, discussing his life in the underworld.

On his website, Gravano sells iPhone cases, coffee cups, “Sammy the Bull” T-shirts, and more. His daughter, Karen Gravano, was on the Mob Wives reality television series.

A different New York Mob case also made the news this month involving the sentencing of an alleged Genovese crime family member.

This follows news in November that 15 Philadelphia reputed mobsters have been indicted on suspicion of gambling, drug trafficking, and more.

Larry Henry

Gaming Regulation, Crime, Politics — Larry Henry is a veteran print and broadcast journalist who spent more than 16 years in Nevada, including serving as legislative reporter for the Reno Gazette-Journal and as political editor at the Las Vegas Sun. He's also written about popular culture for the Mob Museum in Las Vegas. As a broadcast journalist, he worked as managing editor at KFSM-TV, the CBS affiliate in Arkansas, where he now lives and where casino growth is a hot topic. A Marine Corps veteran and LSU graduate, he is also an avid movie fan, especially of classic film noir from the 1940s and ’50s.

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Larry Henry