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2 Take Pleas To Avoid Gotti Trial

January 13, 1999

WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. (AP) _ The list of co-defendants in John A. ``Junior″ Gotti’s racketeering trial has dwindled again, with a 66-year-old man taking a plea bargain from his hospital bed and his son offering a courtroom confession.

In a bedside court session Tuesday at the Westchester Medical Center, Gregory DePalma _ who is ill with lung cancer _ told a federal magistrate that he was guilty of gambling, extortion, labor racketeering and tax crimes, defense lawyer John Mitchell said.

Prosecutors agreed to a prison sentence of between 10 and 13 years.

Though he won’t be appearing at Gotti’s federal racketeering trial, DePalma still is likely to be major presence because many of his conversations are among the thousands collected by federal agents with wiretaps.

Prosecutors contend Gotti, the 34-year-old son of imprisoned-for-life don John J. Gotti, ran the Gambino crime family.

Gotti, who has refused a plea bargain, could be sentenced to 20 years if convicted of racketeering, extortion, robbery and other charges at his trial, likely to begin in March or April.

In court later Tuesday, DePalma’s 32-year-old son, Craig DePalma, confessed to racketeering, extortion, loansharking, bribery, labor racketeering, gambling and tax violations. Prosecutors recommended a sentence of 6 1/2 to eight years.

The pleas were the fourth and fifth this week and leave just six of 23 original defendants.

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