NEW YORK (AP) _ Given his turn at the key witness against repubted mobster John Gotti, a defense attorney sought to establish that Salvatore ''Sammy Bull'' Gravano takes oaths to further his own interests.

Gotti attorney Albert Krieger on Thursday pushed Gravano on why he took oaths to join the Mafia and later to help prosecutors in return for a lighter sentence.

Trying to elicit why Gravano turned on his old boss, Krieger asked, sarcastically, if he wanted to be ''a role model for the youth of the city?''

''Maybe so some other kids don't get their lives destroyed, like I did,'' Gravano replied.

''You destroyed your own life 3/8'' Krieger thundered.

''That's what you say,'' Gravano countered. ''When you grow up in the neighborhoods like the neighborhoods I grew up in, when you grew with the people I grew with. ... I ran in gangs, I dropped out of school in the eighth grade. It was the environment. It didn't seem wrong.''

Krieger: ''The devil made you do it.''

Gravano: ''The devil didn't make me do it. I did it on my own. But the lifestyle did it.''

Later, Krieger asked if Gravano had bettered himself materially by joining the Mafia.

Krieger: ''You took (the oath) because it was good for you?''

Gravano: ''No, you probably wouldn't understand. It's a way of life...being on the street. That's why I took the oath. It made me accepted by my peers.''

K: ''It was good for you.''

G: ''Depends on how you look at it.''

K: ''You made money?''

G: ''Yes.''

K: ''You gained status?''

G: ''Yes.''

K: ''You gained respect?''

G: (pausing) ''I guess so.''

K: ''You went from being a guy running around sticking guns into people and grabbing money to a man who was very active in the construction industry.''

G: ''Yes.''

K: ''From a man struggling to keep ends together to a man with a reported income in excess of $500,000?''

G: ''I'm living well.''

K: ''Now?''

G: ''Not right this minute.''