With No Verdict, Gotti Jury Heads Home For Thanksgiving

By Alice McQuillan
|  Wednesday, Nov 25, 2009  |  Updated 3:07 PM EDT
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With No Verdict, Gotti Jury Heads Home For Thanksgiving

The jury in John Junior Gotti's trial is still deliberating.

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The jury considering racketeering charges against John "Junior" Gotti has taken a holiday break after 10 days of deliberations.
    
The federal court jury in Manhattan deliberated four hours Wednesday before heading home until Tuesday. The 10 days of deliberations is a record for the 45-year-old Gotti's four racketeering trials. Earlier trials all ended with deadlocked juries.
    
The son of the late Gambino family mob boss ordered or participated in several brutal attacks since the 1980s, including three murders, prosecutors said.

Attorneys for Gotti say he quit the Mafia in 1999 and never participated in murders.

On Tuesday, the panel of eight men and four women, for a second time, sent a note to the judge saying they were “unable to reach an unanimous verdict” on all counts the mob scion faces.

Over the defense objections, Judge Kevin Castel gave the jury a special instruction called the Allen Charge – which essentially told them to go back and try harder.

The judge has said he hopes for a verdict.  “What is the nature of a mistrial? It’s actually a failure in the proceedings, it’s not a verdict.” Said the judge.

He was responding to an objection by defense attorney Charles Carnesi, who argued that giving jury a charge like this after their second note about being deadlocked was “coercive.”

“They have been trying as hard as they can,” he said.

When the jurors filed in their eyes were downcast and several had frowns.

"It's a roller coaster," said Carnesi of the trial's twists and turns. "Given the tone of the [lastest] note, I don't know what to make of it."

The trial, which began in mid September, was punctuated by outbursts from Gotti Jr. and his mother, feuding jurors and a tough federal judge who played peacemaker with candy.

Prosecutors accused Gotti Jr. of building and running a “massive cocaine trafficking operation” and participating in a host of mob related crimes dating to 1983, including murder, extortion and loan sharking.  He was also charged with ordering two drug related mob hits in 1988 and 1991.

This trial's star witness was admitted hit man John Alite, a one-time member of Gotti Jr.'s crew.  In October, with the jury out of the room, Gotti Jr. called Alite “a punk” and a “dog.”  Another outburst came about a month later when Gotti Jr.'s mother Victoria loudly protested the judge's removal of two jurors, one thought to be sympathetic to her son.

“They're railroading you,” she yelled to her son when the jurors had left the courtroom.  “They're doing to you what they did to your father.”

John Gotti Sr., the feared head of the Gambino crime family, had been convicted at his own fourth trial in 1992 and died a decade later of cancer.

Defense attorney Charles Carnesi had argued that although Gotti had followed his legendary father into the mafia in 1988, he quit that life in 1999.  At the trial, the defense played portions of a 1999 videotape of Gotti Jr. telling his father that he wanted out of the mob.

Prosecutors contended that Gotti Jr. remained a crime boss, giving orders and getting involved in a 2003 turf battle with his uncles over leadership.

“He has never, never quit that life,” Assistant U.S. Attorney James Trezevant told the jury.

Calling him “an unrepentant street thug” Trezevant reminded the panel of testimony that Gotti Jr. had fatally sliced a man in 1983 and returned to the bar where he lay dying to mock him with a cartoon inspired taunt: “Th-th-that's all folks.”

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