For the fourth time in the past five years, a jury has let John "Junior" Gotti off the hook.
A judge declared a mistrial Gotti's racketeering trial this afternoon.
Outside the courtroom, Gotii spoke to reporters about his fourth turn at trial.
"How rare is it for someone to fight a trial, no less a federal trial and come out of it okay? If you look back at the last four years, this is our fifth proceeding in four years, and I'm walking out the door," he said.
He said he was anxious to go home and see his young children, but he felt for some of his fellow prisoners.
"There are some decent gentlemen that I left behind at the MCC.. they came to my cell at a quarter to 6 this morning and they said today we feel it's your day, Mr. G.. they gave me a kiss and wished me luck. And I looked at these kids and I've got tears in my eyes..some of them may never go home. So Why Me? I'm blessed, I can't complain."
Gotti's sister, Victoria said the family was headed to their mother's house for "a steak dinner."
The mistrial comes less than a week after the jury went home for the Thanksgiving holiday after telling the juge it was still deadlocked following nine days of deliberations. Today was the first day the jury was back in the courthouse since Nov. 25th.
By all account, the trial has been a bit of a circus, featuring his erstwhile best friend, John Alite, who flipped and turned FBI informant as the prosecution's key witness. During his testimony, Alite repeatedly said he and Junior's sister, Victoria, had a fling and implicated Gotti in a series of mob-related enterprises in which Gotti consistently denied involvement.
Gotti pleaded guilty in 1999 to racketeering charges, including bribery, gambling, fraud and extortion, most of which related to his attempts to extort money from the owners of an exclusive Manhattan strip club.
He was sentenced to 77 months in jail and released in 2005. Months before he got out of the Big House, however, Gotti was charged with an 11-count racketeering indictment that included an alleged plot to kidnap Guardian Angels founder and radio show host Curtis Sliwa, who was snatched off the streets and beaten with a baseball bat.
In closing arguments, to which Gotti showed up two hours late because he initially said he didn't want to go, the prosecutor told the jury Gotti ordered the attacks on Sliwa in retaliation for remarks Sliwa made on his radio show about his father, John "The Teflon Don" Gotti Sr., who died in prison in 2002.
Gotti's attorney, Charles Carnesi, told the jury his client had nothing to do with the attacks on Sliwa and never ordered anyone's murder.
Gotti's defense against the racketeering conspiracy charges was that he quit the mob back in 1999 and thus the statute of limitation on the RICO charges had expired. The prosecution disagreed, and put Alite on the stand to prove it, provoking a series of hostile engagements between the star witness and Gotti.
At one point during trial, Gotti became so incensed that Alite testified he had taken no part in the murder of a 25-year-old woman that he cursed him out in the courtroom. Alite later told the judge he saw Gotti mouth the words, "We're gonna kill you," which prompted questions about whether witness intimidation and obstruction of justice would be added to the charges against Junior Gotti.
The drama extended to the jury box as well. Two jurors were kicked off the jury for nearly starting a fight. The battle between the two jurors had been escalating for some time, culminating in a letter one wrote to the judge about the other, saying she was creating a hostile environment for all members of the jury and was milking the court's dime to feed her egregious sense of entitlement a la calamari. At one point, the judge offered the jurors Twizzlers to give them something else to chew on.
After the wayward jurors were dismissed, Gotti's mother took it upon herself to stand up for what she perceived to be an affront to her son's trial. She unleashed a profanity-laced tirade in court, accusing the prosecution of being gangsters who were trying to bring the same fate upon her son as they did upon her husband.
Family members claim "Junior" Gotti has been a government target simply because of his last name. The 45-year-old mobster, born on Valentine's Day in Queens, led the Gambino crime family for much of the 1990s while his father was in prison. Federal prosecutors say the father of six was inducted into the Gambino crime family in the late 1980s and made a captain in 1990. Two years later, his father was sent to jail for life, and allegedly gave him the reins of the family.