Organized Crime Investigation and Outcome

by Tina Handrick
English: Surveillance photo of Mafia leaders J...
English: Surveillance photo of Mafia leaders John Gotti, Sammy Gravano, Victor Amuso and Anthony Casso. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
When investigating criminal behaviors and crimes against the fellow man, you have to look in the past to see exactly where some of these behaviors originated from and who the players of the game are. The Italian Mafia emigrated from Italy back in the 1800’s and they have infiltrated the United States and have brought terror to the lives of Americans. There are several different Mafia families here in the United States at the present time, several of them are living in our federal prisons for the crimes that they have committed, and the Mafia’s has committed some of the most notorious crimes. A few examples of these are murder, assassinations, money laundering, racketeering, gambling, prostitution, armed robbery, and drug trafficking.
December 11: John Gotti arrested
December 11: John Gotti arrested (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Federal Government felt that they needed to get a handle on the organized crime families (Italian Mafia) and finally started in depth investigations into trying to catch these murderers and put them behind bars. John Gotti was one of these men. John Gotti was born in New York in the 1940’s to a low-earning construction worker and his wife, and he was the fifth child out of thirteen. When he was in fourth grade his family moved away from the South Bronx, and settled into the Sheepshead Bay area, in Brooklyn. This is where John started his criminal life, and started to leave a destructive path for the police to follow.
According to police records John joined up with the Fulton-Rockaway Boys early in his young life and by the time he was sixteen he dropped out of school and became a fulltime Fulton-Rockaway Street gang member, from there he went from one crime to another. Some of these crimes were gang fighting, burglary, disorderly conduct, and unlawfully assembly in gambling joints, these crimes did not get any kind of serious consequences, basically a slap on the wrist and a $200 dollar fine and a 60 day suspended sentence. John continued this type of criminal behavior and ended up spending time in the prison systems but each time he was released he would go right back to the Mafia family that he belonged to.
Paul Castellano
Paul Castellano (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
When John continued this type of criminal activity he became a spotlight for investigators to start looking into the man he was and the crimes he was responsible for. The first step was for the federal government to begin their planning stages. They would look at all of the crimes that John Gotti has been involved in, and who he was working with on a daily basis. They would set into motion to collect intelligence from telephone surveillance, setting up who would be the best person to get information out of that was close to John and see if that person could get an undercover agent close to the family. This way when something was going to happen they would hopefully get a tip before it happened.
They would collect data and establish facts about how and when certain crimes would happen and who the person was who was ordering the hits, or jobs. It is important to list all of the code of conducts that may have been broken, to make sure that the investigation stays on track. Staying focused and not becoming personal involved is important otherwise the case could become very dangerous with this type of investigation. Try staying by the book so there isn’t any invisible line you might cross. You need to make sure that your allegations are true and factual.
English: An FBI surveillance photo of suspecte...
English: An FBI surveillance photo of suspected mobsters Thomas (Tommy Sneakers) Cacciopoli, John (Junior) Gotti and John Cavallo. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
When you are collecting data against the subject (John Gotti) you need to make sure that the information you collect is relevant information and that it stays on track with your investigation. Don’t put any information that could confuse an attorney or a jury, or any member that is on your team. Staying on task and putting all of the information in order by dates and time is important. Never discredit any information until it has been thoroughly investigated first.
Once the FBI collects all relevant evidence they would then start evaluating all of the information to make sure that the information is factual and that all dates, times, and places were backed up by the evidence that they have. Collecting evidence is tricky and the FBI needs to make sure that all information follows the line of the investigation. Pulling suspects in for questioning and making sure that you either tape or use video recordings to keep all the facts straight is a plus, making sure that you have the proper information on the suspects helps to try and get them to turn states evidence against the top “Boss” to gain a good foothold into the case. With the way that John Gotti lived his life there was plenty of evidence to collect. He left a long line of criminal activity for the investigators to follow.
English: Mugshot of Carlo Gambino (August 24, ...
English: Mugshot of Carlo Gambino (August 24, 1902 - October 15, 1976) at 1930's, a mafioso who became boss of the Gambino crime family, that still bears his name today. Italiano: Foto segnaletica di Carlo Gambino (Palermo, 24 agosto 1902 – Long Island, 15 ottobre 1976), un criminale italiano, appartenente alla mafia italo-americana. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
After years of doing small time crimes, and going in and out of the prison system John decided that at age 26, that he was going to become a professional hijacker (Gene Mustain and Jerry Capeci, 2002). He made his headquarters at the Bergin Hunt and Fish Club, and with the tutelage of Carmine and Daniel Fatico, two adult-gang members of the Rockaway Boys and that were connected to the Gambino crime family. So in 1969, John the father of four was again put in prison at the Lewisburg federal penitentiary to serve a four year sentence for the theft of cargo at the JFK international airport.
Once he was released from his confinement, John again went right back into organized crime, this time becoming the acting captain of the Bergin crew, when his mentor Carmine Fatico was indicted for loan sharking, even though he was not yet formally inducted into the Cosa Nostra  (Gene Mustain and Jerry Capeci, 2002).  The FBI was collecting all of this past information to make a case against the now head of the Cosa Nostra John Gotti. From the years of 1973 to 1980 John had been involved with murdering a man named James McBratney, and served time in prison for that, and then he became eligible for the Cosa Nostra membership. Then after the death of Carlo Gambino and the “books were opened,” once released from prison for murder John Gotti was a “made” into the Mafia. Gotti left a trail behind him when he would participate in illegal activities but it wasn’t enough to get him real time. He lost control of himself for a while by letting his gambling get out of control and was losing more than he was getting.
In 1980 John had a personal loss of his youngest son, Frank. Frank was killed in an accident by one of John’s neighbors in a traffic accident. The neighbor, John Favara disappeared without a trace soon after that, because John, who at first was not going to take revenge for the loss of his son changed his mind when he found out that John Favara was speeding and had jumped a stop sign before hitting and killing his son. The FBI had informants close to Gotti to get information about what Gotti was up to. All of this information was being collected against Gotti and it was going to use to put him away for a very long time. RICO (Racketeering Influenced and Corrupt Organization Act) which was established in 1970 helped law officials to be able to start getting Organized Criminals off the street namely Mafia members.
English: Mugshot of famous US organized crime ...
English: Mugshot of famous US organized crime figure. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
In early 1982 the FBI launched an investigation into drug trafficking that involved as key player’s the brother of John Gotti Gene Gotti and close friend since the Rockaway Boys days, Angelo Ruggiero. The FBI planted bugs in Ruggiero's house in which produced a wealth of evidence. Even though John Gotti was not directly implicated on tape and consequently, and even his brother Gene Gotti was not implicated, Angelo Ruggiero and others were linked to the Bergin crew, John was on the spot as far as Paul Castellano, the new boss of the Gambino family, was concerned. He felt that Gotti was either involved and thus had violated the Cosa Nostra ban on drug trafficking, or he had failed to control his crew. The conflict between Castellano and Gotti's faction, under the leadership of Neil Dellacroce, escalated when Castellano unsuccessfully tried to put pressure on Ruggiero to turn over the incriminating surveillance transcripts he needed to prepare his own defense in the upcoming Commission trial, a RICO case directed against the entire leadership of New York's five Cosa Nostra families. Paul Castellano and his newly appointed underboss Thomas Bilotti were murdered on 16 December 1985. The double murder was orchestrated by John Gotti and Sammy Gravano who soon afterwards would become the “boss” and consigliore, respectively, of the Gambino family.
Mafia boss Giovanni
Mafia boss Giovanni "John" Gambino (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
With everything else that was going on John Gotti still had legal problems of his own and in 1984 a grand jury returned an indictment against Gotti on felony assault and theft charges, and this was a few days after Gotti had a run-in with a repairman over a double-parked car. In March of 1985 he was indicted on RICO charges which included offenses of two hijackings and the McBratney murder. The prosecution, who lead by young Diane Giacalone, relied heavily on testimony from informants and Gotti’s own fellow Mafia members, who the defense under the leadership of Bruce Cutler vigorously tried to discredit. While the government's case was assessed to be weak from the beginning, it was doomed when one of the jurors reached out to Gotti and promised to prevent a conviction. In March of 1987, a year after the trial began, the jury found Gotti 'not guilty' on all counts. .
The legal victories earned Gotti the nickname "Teflon Don" and boosted his celebrity status. As boss of the Gambino family, Gotti moved his headquarters to the Ravenite social club in lower Manhattan, making himself a target for extensive law enforcement surveillance. By 1989, at least nine men were meeting secretly with agents about Gotti and bugs were planted inside the Ravenite, in the adjacent hallway and in an upstairs apartment where Gotti held private conferences with his closest underlings. On the tapes that the FBI received they had Gotti admitting to approving to murders and discussing the hierarchy of the Gambino family. It was said that when Gotti was not afraid of anything, you could tell by the look in his eyes. That when he was up against any obstacle that he would hold his head high and walk like a man that was confident. In the end John Gotti was indicted again and with all of the overwhelming evidence that was collected was finally convicted on June 23, 1992, the judge gave Gotti multiple life sentences and was sent to a federal penitentiary in Marrion, Illinois. Gotti was in prison when he died of throat cancer in June of 2002.
FBI surveillance photograph of Joseph Massino,...
FBI surveillance photograph of Joseph Massino, Salvatore Vitale and Frank Lino. The three men are headed to the wake of former Gambino crime family underboss Frank DeCicco, in April 1986. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The steps that were taken to prove the case were:

·         „ planning
·         „ establishing facts
·         „ evaluating
·         „ reporting
Making sure that you use all information available and making sure that it is true and factual information helps, making sure that you use all available sources and getting eye witness reports are essential. Video recording or tape recording all persons being questioned helps to make sure that all the information is there and that no information was overlooked or discarded. Making sure all documents are properly filled out and that there was nothing lost or missing. Most important is to document, document, and document. Nothing is ever unimportant when you are trying to convict a murderer, thief, racketeer, drug dealer, and all around bad guy.

1. How to conduct an investigation, July 200- The Standards Board for England- http://www.idea.gov.uk/idk/aio/1261073
2.  Federal-Local Law Enforcement Collaboration in Investigating and Prosecuting Urban Crime, 1982–1999: Drugs, Weapons, and Gangs http://www.ncjrs.gov/pdffiles1/nij/grants/201782.pdf
3. The FBI- Organized Crime-Italian Organized Crime- http://www.fbi.gov/about-us/investigate/organizedcrime/italian_mafia
4. Mob Star: The Story of John Gotti: Written By Gene Mustain and Jerry Capeci Indianapolis: Alpha Books, 2002, pg. 378; http://www.organized-crime.de/revmus03johngotti.htm
5. RICOACT.COM LLC: http://www.ricoact.com/

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