John Joseph Gotti, Jr., was born to Fannie and J. Joseph Gotti on October 27, 1940, in New York City. He was the fifth child among his other 12 siblings. His parents were immigrants from Italy. His father was a laborer who never held a regular job.
Since childhood, Gotti faced a lot of hardships, as his father was the only earning member of their large family. Initially, Gotti and his family relocated quite frequently. Later, they settled in East New York, which was infamous for several youth gang activities.
John Gotti and the Gambino Family
By the time Gotti reached the age of 12, he was already an errand boy working for an underground club. This club was headed by Carmine Fatico, who also acted as a skipper of the local Gambino family. This family was one of those five families that conducted various organized crimes all over New York City.
During this time, Gotti got acquainted with Aniello Dellacroce, who later went on to become his mentor for life. Within a short period of time, he became the leader of a group named the Fulton-Rockaway Boys. His group was into crimes such as robberies, car-jacking, etc.
In between 1957-61, Gotti had a full-time career in crime. The list of his crimes included car theft, street fighting, public intoxication, etc. He was caught by the police five times but never spent a long time in jail.
When he shifted with his family to Ozone Park in Queens, New York, Gotti became a key member of the Gambino hijacking crew. In 1968, Gotti was found guilty of hijacking, and had to serve three years of imprisonment. When he came out in 1971, he took charge of his old Fatico gang (or Bergin Hunt and Fish Club) for a short period of time.
In May 1973, he murdered a rival gang member, and was caught in 1974 after several eye witnesses identified him. This was the first time he had committed murder. However, as he cut a deal with the court, he was required to remain in jail for just four years.
With the death of Carlo Gambino, who was the head of the Gambino family, Paul Castellano took over its charge. Castellano gave Dellacroce, Gotti's mentor, total control over 10 crews out of 23 crews.
On his release from jail, Gotti was assigned the responsibility of captain of the Bergin crew by his mentor Dellacroce, and Gotti became a popular member of the gang. Castellano was not quite happy with the rising popularity of John Gotti in the Gambino family. On the other side, FBI agents were planning to tighten their noose around Gotti.
In 1985, Gotti and his mentor was indicted by the FBI on the charges of drug trafficking. Castellano, who never supported illegal drug trading, was furious with John Gotti. In the meantime, Dellacroce died from cancer. This was a big blow to Gotti. He was largely dependent on his mentor on resolving the rising differences between him and Castellano.
Their relationship further deteriorated when Castellano did not turn up for the funeral of Dellacroce. Gotti decided to take revenge on Castellano. Within two weeks, Castellano was shot down in Manhattan on December 16, 1985, and Gotti became the boss of the Gambino family.
By the middle of 1986, John Gotti was an icon in the neighborhood of Howard Beach. When he faced the charges for racketeering, he and his fellowmen were declared 'not guilty' by the jury. Thus, he acquired the name of "Teflon Don", as charges against him "just would not stick". Then the FBI started a bigger campaign against John Gotti.
The new Gambino family underboss, Salvatore Gravano, testified against Gotti, who was convicted on April 2, 1992 on the charges of murder and racketeering. As Gotti was a repeat offender, he did not get a chance of parole and was sent to federal prison in Marion, Illinois, where he died of cancer on June 10, 2002.
Personal Life of John Gotti
Gotti attended Franklin K. Lane High School, but dropped out at the age of 16. In an accident, Gotti's toes were mashed when he was 14 years old, and he got a distinctive gait. Gotti married Victoria DiGiorgio on March 6, 1962. Initially, they had a tough marriage with constant fighting and separation a number of times.
Once he even tried out a legal job for his family's sake, but failed to continue in it for long. John Gotti's youngest son, Frank Gotti, was run over and killed by his neighbor's mini-bike in March 1980. Though it was ruled as an accident, many believed it to be murder.
It is believed that when John Gotti was the boss of the Gambino family, the gang made at least 500 million dollars from illegal businesses like gambling, drug trafficking, money extortion, stock fraud, etc.