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Crime A Way Of Life For Gotti, Prosecutor Says

March 2, 1987

NEW YORK (AP) _ John Gotti’s business is crime and it is ruled by secrecy, fierce loyalty and threats of death, a federal prosecutor said in closing argument Monday at the racketeering conspiracy trial of the reputed boss of the Gambino crime family.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Diane Giacalone used tape recordings of wiretaps and bugged conversations to try to convince the jurors that the Mafia’s largest family was not the fantasy defense lawyers said it was.

She referred to a 1973 killing she said Gotti helped commit because he ″is an ambitious man.″

The killing of Jimmy McBratney came in revenge for the kidnapping of the late Mafia boss Carlo Gambino’s nephew and allegedly earned Gotti and a boyhood friend membership in the organization, she said.

″It was done, ladies and gentlemen, for the enterprise,″ Ms. Giacalone said.

Gotti, 46, his brother Gene, 40, and five others each face up to 40 years in jail if convicted of the rackeetering conspiracy charges. The indictment against them says that for 18 years the defendants ran two crews in the Gambino family, the largest and most profitable of New York’s five crime families.

Gotti rose to power after the December 1985 assassination of then-boss Paul Castellano. Authorities believe the killing was ordered by Gotti but no charges have been made in the case.

Ms. Giacalone said Gotti and his six co-defendants lived secret lives, fearing police surveillance and hiding their meetings.

″Why are they so worried?″ she asked. ″Because they are career criminals. That’s what they do for a living.″

Ms. Giacalone said the Gambino family has divided up New York City to increase the power and fortunes of its members.

″It’s an organization that treated New York City like a pie, that divided it into territories,″ she said. ″Members of that organization exercised their power without regard to the law or to human life.″

Ms. Giacalone cautioned jurors about her own witnesses, who have admitted murders, bank robberies, truck hijackings and other crimes, saying their stories and the evidence did not come in a neatly wrapped package.

″The truth isn’t like that. The truth has ragged edges,″ she said. The witnesses ″have led reprehensible lives. They have done awful things,″ but their testimony should be carefully considered.″

After Ms. Giacalone’s 3 1/2 -hour summation, George Santangelo, attorney for defendant Nicholas Corozzo, opened for the defense and attacked the witnesses, calling them ″the prosecutor’s crime family.″

They were required to testify against their associates to receive immunity, and truth was not the issue, Santangelo said.

″The liberty of these men in this courtroom is going to be traded if you convict. The liberty of those murderers, thieves, sex criminals, drug dealers, liars, cheats, con men, that’s the trade here,″ he said.

The jurors heard more than a week of testimony in December from James Cardinali, 37, who told of his participation in five drug-related killings, for which he received immunity in federal court.

Ms. Giacalone also referred to an admitted thief, Salvatore Polisi, 41, who described the Gotti gang’s gambling operations and their plans for robberies and truck hijackings.

He and Cardinali testified about three killings Gotti and some of his co- defendants allegedly committed. The homicides are cited as racketeering acts in the indictment.

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