Second Mistrial in Gotti Case
NEW YORK (AP) _ The drug and racketeering case against reputed mobster Gene Gotti ended in a mistrial for the second time after the jury deadlocked over whether the government had tampered with tapes of bugged conversations.
U.S. District Judge John M. McLaughlin declared the mistrial Wednesday in the case against the 41-year-old brother of reputed Gambino crime family boss John Gotti. Two other reputed mob figures also were on trial.
″I’m fairly well satisfied that we have reached the Rubicon. The time has come to declare a mistrial,″ the judge said. The trial began 10 weeks ago.
The jury foreman said jurors were troubled by a defense claim that tape recordings, made from an FBI bug placed in the kitchen of one of the defendants, Angelo Ruggiero, might have been tampered with to fit the case.
The jurors’ identities were not released for their own protection.
″The jurors finally indicated their problem with the evidence is, in fact, tampering,″ said Jeffrey Hoffman, Ruggiero’s lawyer.
″We only hope the court system will recognize this situation and correct it by dismissing the case so these defendants do not once again have to undergo criminal proceedings.″
Assistant U.S. Attorney Robert LaRusso denied there was any tampering.
The first trial ended in a mistrial in January - nine months into the case - with prosecutors accusing the defendants of jury tampering. Prosecutors said there would be a third trial; McLaughlin set Sept. 7 as the tentative date.
The jury had considered charges of heroin possession, obstruction, conspiracy, racketeering and running a continuing criminal enterprise.
Gotti, of Valley Stream, Ruggiero, 48, of Cedarhurst, and John Carneglia, 43, of New York City are charged with supervising a multimillion-dollar heroin-smuggling operation.
U.S. Attorney Andrew Maloney said the charge of jury tampering in the first trial was under investigation.