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The Dumbest Don


He really had a bad year. His wife, Catherine, found out about his ten-year relationship with girlfriend Margie Alexander and sued him for divorce. A daughter and the mother got most of his money. Margie wrote impassioned letters to Judge Casey when Pete was indicted on the Gravano charges, begging for mercy because of Pete’s age, poor eyesight, gout, and high blood pressure. This threw Pete, who is still a Gotti, into a rage, and he screamed at her. She committed suicide. Only his son, Peter Jr., a laborer unconnected to the mob, has remained loyal in the Gorky-ish denouement of his father’s life.

On December 22, the Mikey Scars–impressed and John Gotti–tape–horrified jury found Pete Gotti guilty on all counts—not a surprise to anyone but Bondy, apparently—and he essentially received a life sentence (50 years maximum) for his second, noncapital crime.

After his guilty verdict, Pete embraced Bondy with a real show of affection, and Bondy assured him that there were so many cursory, prejudicial sustained objections and blockages of defense lines of questioning on prosecution witnesses that there were “great grounds for appeal.” Beth Citron, Bondy’s attractive, blonde second chair, put her arms around him and looked sympathetic.

Huck Carbonaro, meanwhile, who appears to be a kind of cave creature—pale, bald, small, wearing a sweatshirt instead of a jacket—looked around furtively after his conviction, showing only the same opaqueness he’d exposed for the five weeks the trial had lasted. It was a chilling emptiness that must have been the last thing his victims had seen over the years. He caught the eye of a tough guy in the spectators’ section and shrugged: “Innocent of this, but what the hell,” he seemed to say.

Meanwhile, Sammy Gravano, who was never injured in the alleged Carbonaro-Mangiavillano conspiracy to murder him, and who’d admitted killing or ordering nineteen hits before his John Gotti testimony in 1992, was back in town, getting ready to say whatever the Department of Justice wanted him to say.

Why? He’d been indicted for fresh New York–New Jersey counts in the ecstasy case he’s currently serving nineteen years for in Arizona or Colorado—law enforcement won’t say where. And he’s looking at a murder charge that he didn’t admit to previously, the hired shooting of a corrupt cop, Peter Calabro, in 1980. So he’s ready to provide whatever show-trial evidence is required.

Uncle Pete’s comment: “What did you expect? They [the jury] don’t understand these things.”

The Gotti collapse, which will likely be complete by August, if Junior is convicted of trying to murder Guardian Angels founder and radio personality Curtis Sliwa (of all people), will leave four old guys as powers in what’s left of the Gambino family. They are Nicky and Jo Jo Corozzo, wiseguys from Canarsie; Danny Marino, who finished an eight-year racketeering bit in 2000 and has completed his parole; and Arnold Squitieri.

Nicky was John Gotti’s first choice as acting boss in 1992, when he got life without possibility of parole, but even then, savvy wiseguys weren’t anxious to step into what was clearly the FBI’s publicity searchlight. Nicky balked, reluctantly agreed to serve only on the panel, and moved operations to South Florida, where he was immediately arrested and went to jail anyway. But now the Feds are feeding the crime hacks who write about the mob as a daily soap for the tabs the line that Nicky is “hungry” for the boss’s job again, which hardly seems likely. Besides, his brother Jo Jo, the current Gambino consigliere, is looking after his interests without his having to face the Feds or a possible rival, Danny Marino.

“You have a coupla guys who are strong in there,” my old wiseguy tells me, “but you’d haveta be a lot dumber than they are to come into the open.

“Heat [attention] is the death of our business. Corozzo and Marino are sharper than that, so this ‘godfather’ bullshit shouldn’t tempt them much. Marino just got clear—why’d he wanna start all that again? You’d have to be a real mook, like Pete was, to even accept the fucking job!

“Look at Zeke Squitieri! He’s underboss, he steps down [Arnold Squitieri deposed himself in 2004]. Mikey Scars refused to serve on the ruling panel back in ’92, whatever, then again, in ’98, he turned down Pete’s offer to make him consigliere. Junior stepped down in ’96 from the job on the panel . . . You’da never seen that when Carlo was around. Guys got knocked down or were allowed to retire if they were old, but to step down in your strength?

“What’s gonna happen to the Gambinos? They’ll go on in some little half-assed ways, but the other mobs—the spics and slants and Russians—have the balls now. The Albanians are taking all our [card] games and [numbers] rackets in Queens! Jesus Christ!”

I ask what would happen to informers like Gravano and Mikey Scars, Fat Sal Mangiavillano and Frankie Fap, who’ve all gone into Witness Protection:

“I hear the Bureau’s gonna turn ’em into special agents,” my old soldier laughs.

“But I’ll tell ya who I really feel sorry for. These young prosecutors like Hou and McGovern? It’ll be harder for them to get jobs at Cravath, Swaine now, after the last Gottis are gone.

“Who’s gonna give you prime time or front page for a name like DiLeonardo? Or Mangiavillano? Nobody even remembers Gravano. . . It’s you guys who finished the mob.”

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