Reputed Mob Boss Laughs When Defector Says He Wants to Turn His Life Around
Mar. 13, 1992
NEW YORK (AP) _ Mob defector Salvatore ''Sammy Bull'' Gravano testified Friday on his last day on the stand that he worked on a plan to break out of jail before he decided to turn against his friend John Gotti.
But he denied at Gotti's murder and racketeering trial that he became a traitor solely because he wanted his freedom.
''My major concern was to turn my life around and get away from what I was doing,'' said Gravano, who in a plea agreement admitted to 19 killings.
Gotti laughed at the remark, muttering to his lawyers and motioning toward Gravano as if he were brushing away a fly.
''You're just looking for a new version of Sam Gravano to be visited upon this world,'' said Gotti's lawyer, Albert J. Krieger.
Gravano responded: ''I can make a living and make a life for myself. That's the way I feel.''
It was Gravano's ninth and last day on the witness stand. When he was finished, he stood, turned and walked out a door behind the bench without glancing back at his former friend.
Gotti, smiling sarcastically, wiped his brow and then rubbed his finger under his right eye, as if to wipe away a tear.
Authorities say Gravano, 47, was Gotti's underboss and heir apparent in the powerful Gambino organized crime family when he was arrested in December 1990 with Gotti and Frank ''Frankie Locs'' Locascio on murder and racketeering charges.
Facing life in prison, Gravano signed the plea agreement last fall after 10 months in jail without bail. Under the agreement, Gravano faces probation to 20 years in prison.
Gravano said he considered escape before he decided to turn on his friends.
''You were planning an escape?'' asked Locascio's lawyer, Anthony Cardinale.
''That was discussed,'' Gravano said. Gotti and Locascio are accused in the federal court trial of crimes including racketeering, murders, loansharking and labor corruption. They face life in prison, if convicted.
Questioned by Assistant U.S. Attorney John Gleeson, Gravano repeated that Gotti was a murderer who ordered the deaths of those who crossed him.
''Did John Gotti, from time to time, tell you about people he believed deserved to die?'' Gleeson asked.
''Yes,'' Gravano said.
''And did he have these people killed?'' Gleeson asked.
''Yes,'' Gravano said.
Gotti is accused of ordering the December 1985 murder of former mob boss Paul Castellano to assume control of the Gambino crime family, the nation's most powerful Mafia organization.
Gotti was acquitted of crimes three times in the last six years.