From its very existence the Mafia has always been feared and respected. They are respected for the power that they posses to do what they want whenever and with whomever they please. Also the Mafia is respected for the money that they poses and the ability to get it by all means possible. They are feared by people knowing that the Mafia would not hesitate to kill someone if need be. “The roots of the mafia go way back to Sicily where their history is ancient and bloody” ( Cummings and Volkman 3). The American mafia is often portrayed as the invisible and omnipotent criminal of the movie melodrama” ( Cummings and Volkman 4).
It is neither of them, but the American mafia is one of the most dangerous criminal organizations in the world” ( Cummings and Volkman 4). When the American mafia first started people did not pay much attention to the criminal acts that they did and the unholy morals that they stood for. That was until a man from Chicago by the name of Al Capone took the mafia from rags to riches from the late nineteen twenties well into the nineteen thirties. Thanks to Mr. Capone, the American mafia was well known, and became a great force to be dealt with in the world.
Mr, Capone also made men of the mafia among the most socially mobile people in America. There are mafia families all over the world, some of which run their businesses in the countryside. The mafia is mostly a big city organization because of what goes on in the city:” crime , police , corruption and unholy alliances between politics and business” (Cummings and Volkman 5). Basically wherever the money is there will be a mafia family nearby. New York City is considered to be the main grounds of the mafia world in which they earn up to “thirty billion dollars each year” ( Cummings and Volkman 6).
The mafia is similar to a business where men run their own business and do as they please. Just as every business has its own structure so does the mafia. At the top of the ladder there is the “Capo Di Tutti Capi (boss of the bosses)” ( Cummings and Volkman 6). There is no head boss for the whole entire mafia organization itself. But each family has its own boss and he runs it the way he wants to in whatever way he pleases to do so. Under every boss there is an under boss, who is considered to be a supervisor in the mafia world. The counsigliere is called in to settle the disputes. The consigliere (counselor), is supposed to function both as an advisor to the family boss and as arbitrator of disputes between the boss and the family members” ( Cummings and Volkman 6). Next in power in the mafia ladder is the caporegime, who is the manager of the mafia family. His role in the family is being head of the workers. “Each worker, if formally inducted into the mafia, is known as a soldier” (Cummings and Volkman 6). The last members of the family consist of the associates. The associates are members that are non-Italian and Italian-Americans who have not been inducted into the family formally.
In the world of the mafia there is one rule that must be followed at all times “all money flows upward” ( Cummings and Volkman 6). The money that the mafia makes goes right up to the boss and he decides on who should get what of the profits. The way the boss splits the money is on how much the soldiers and the associates earn for the family. The boss also uses the money for bail and legal matters, but there is one thing that a person must do in order for him to get what he wants. That stipulation is to keep his mouth shut when the law is trying to get information about the family and their business.
As in business the mafia families are also very competitive. Some families are more successful than others. For the past several years the most powerful, richest, and most feared mob family has been the Gambino family of New York “known by the name in honor of its progenitor, Carlo Gambino; it’s an organization of approximately two hundred fifty formally inducted members and several hundred associates” ( Cummings and Volkman 7). The Gambino family made millions every year in narcotics extortion, and illegal gambling; these were just a few of the operations that they used.
In order to be boss of the Gambino family one must have many things, such as a good business sense, and unquestioning loyalty. John Gotti is one of those men who possesses these qualities. Mr. Gotti is currently the head of the Gambino family. “At age fifty-nine, which is a young age by mafia standards, he is the most notorious of all organize crime leaders”(9 Cummings and Volkman 7). Like many immigrants have done in the past, John Gotti’s parents came to this country to make a better living for themselves. Fannie and John Sr. came to New York and lived in Harlem.
At that time Harlem was divided into two parts, “Black Harlem and Italian Harlem” ( Cummings and Volkman 9). The Gotti’s lived in Italian Harlem, which was the east side of New York City, and this is where John Gotti began his life. “On October 27, 1940, John Gotti was born” ( Elliot 1). When he was born no one thought that he would be the leader of one of the biggest crime families of New York. “He was the fifth child of thirteen siblings” ( Cummings and Volkman 20). Some of his “known siblings in the family were Vincent, Gene, Richard, and Peter, who was the oldest” (Elliot 1).
The family lived in the part of Harlem where it was infested by every parent’s nightmare. This nightmare consisted of gangs that were run by children. The name of these gangs was called “Brogata, the Italian term for the gangs that created mischief” (Cummings and Volkman 20). Sometimes their mischief would turn into serious crimes. For instance, the crimes they would commit consisted of rolling drunks and stealing from merchants. Many Italian children were part of these gangs, but not Gotti though. John Gotti, Jr. was in a league of his own.
At a very young age Gotti had a reputation that no one his age had, a reputation of power. When Gotti started school he didn’t have this power right away. Gotti attended the “public school A 33 near his home” (Cummings and Volkman 20). Everyday Gotti would see gang’s surround little kids for their money. Any teacher that would interfere with the gangs action would have received a beating like they have never felt before in their life. Also these gangs would walk around the place like they were the owners and warn any boy not to become a sbirru.
A sbirru is ” Sicilian slang for stool pigeon and anyone who would become a stool pigeon would get a crippling beating” (Cummings and Volkman 21). John Gotti was a person with a violent temper when he was younger. His school record had nothing but acts of fighting with other students. He was always in a bad mood because of his living style. His father and mother had to work so hard in order to feed so many children. Gotti would always get beat up by his older brothers, and teachers feared the youngest Gotti. Even though the youngest was the smart kid, he scored an “IQ of 140” (Elliot 1).
But Gotti didn’t care about school. The other kids of the school started to notice some of the attributes that Gotti had and then they began to follow him. In no time flat Gotti formed a small borgata of his own, and that’s where he began the life of crime that he lived. Gotti and his gang started to hang out at the night clubs and restaurants that were owned by the mafia. The older wise guys would make them pick up messages and also do other jobs as well. Gotti would continue to do this well into his junior high school years. Gotti was an up and coming street child, and his record still continued to show it.
It began to show so much that the authorities at “Franklin K. a junior high school, started to send warnings home”(Elliot 1). The warnings had no effect on Gotti. He did not really care because he was having the time of his life. Gotti was having such a good time that he dropped out of junior high. When he started to associate himself with the MOB, he and his gang, otherwise known as the “Fulton-Rockaway Boys” met a man by the name of Lucky Luciano who was the leader of the Mob at that time. Lucky had a reputation that everyone in the neighborhood knew about of his being a real tough guy.
He was so tough that on “February 9,1946, he was exiled back to Italy” (Elliot 1). After Luciano was exiled, “Albert Anatasia took over the Mob” (O’Brien and Kurins 33). Even though the Mob had a new leader, life in the Mob was the same. The bosses were conducting their own business, and Gotti was conducting his. The crime life went on for awhile. The power of the bosses went from “Albert Anatasia to Carlo Gambino” (O’Brien and Kurins 33). “In 1960 John Gotti married Victoria Di Giorgio, who was also a “high school dropout and her parents did not agree with the choice that she made” (Cummings and Volkman 62).
She was a “petite pretty raven hair girl from Brooklyn” (Cummings and Volkman 62). Her parents considered Gotti to be a lowlife. When she told her parents that she was pregnant, they could not do anything about it. In April of “1961 Victoria and John Gotti had their first born child” (Elliot 1). It was a baby girl and they named her Angela. Because of his bad gambling habit, Gotti put his family in serious financial difficulty. He didn’t make that much money from crimes because he wasn’t a big shot back then so he got a “job as a trucker’s helper” (Cummings and Volkman 63).
Gotti continued to gamble even though his money was short. One day he decided to buy a bar so it could be used as a mob hangout. When Gotti’s wife found out what he had done she was angry. She was angry because of the money shortage and he decided to buy a bar for him and his buddies. Business was good and the bosses were so impressed that they promoted Gotti to do some small time hijacking. Gotti was so good at hijacking that the bosses gave him bigger jobs to do such as killings and other crimes. Gambino liked Gotti and the way he conducted business. Gotti was getting up there in the ranks with the big men.
But Gambino’s reign didn’t last forever, because in “1976 Gambino died of natural causes” and with the arrival of the new boss, Gotti had to start all over” (Cummings and Volkman 63). “In July 1976 Paul Castellano succeded Gambino as boss of the Gambino family” (Elliot 1). Gotti didn’t care if Castelano was boss or not; he would continue to make money his own way. At first Castellano said “Gotti is street, Gotti is flash, Gotti is publicity, Gotti is everything that I don’t want” (O’Brian and Kurins 232). As time progressed Gotti and his actions began to grow on Castellano.
Gotti grew on Castellano so much that in “1980 Castellano appointed Gotti as Capo” (Elliot 2). This decision would cause Castellano to lose his life. Five years after Castellano appointed Gotti as Capo, Castellano and his body guard (Thomas Billiti) were both killed in front of Sparks’s Steak House on “December 15, 1985” (O’Brian and Kurins 160). During the time of the murders Gotti was the number one suspect, but since the FBI didn’t have any evidence, they weren’t able to do anything. After the death of Castellano, Gotti took over as acting head boss.
When Gotti took over he brought in some of his own men and started to conduct business the way he always wanted to. Gotti’s main crew consisted of twenty-five members, including himself. The new Gambino Mob had some of his closest companions such as “Salvatore (Sammy the Bull) Gravano who was Prot G of John Gotti and also his stick up man” (Cummings and Volkman 227). Gravano was also the under boss for Gotti. Other members of the main clan consisted of his older brothers: Pete, Gene, Richard, and Vincent who all took care of the hijacking operations, and also heroin trafficking.
John Gotti’s son (Junior) was also part of his clan. Now that Gotti was in charge he had all the power that he ever dreamed for. Gotti and his crew took care of everything that brought in the profits. Drugs, Restaurants, and hijacking were some of the many jobs that they did in order to bring in the money. The money was pouring, in and Gotti had the city of New York in the palm of his hand. Gotti was in such control of operations that the other Mob families of New York were getting a little bit jealous and a little bit angry from his actions. One family in particular was the Genovese family.
The Genovese family were enemies of the Gambino family. “Vincent (The chin) Gigante was the boss of the Genovese family” (Cummings and Volkman 277). Gigante hated Gotti with a passion. The one problem that Gotti had if he wanted to continue business was that “the Genovese family wanted him dead” (Blum 182). “When the news reached to Gotti that Gigante wanted him dead, Gotti told his men to kill Gigante first” (Blum 183). After the incident with Gigante life for John Gotti started to turn for the worse. The FBI were hard on his tail in trying to convict him. January of 1989 Gotti was arrested for the 86 shooting of union chief John F. O’Connor” (Elliot 2). “O’Connor was the vice-president and business manager of local 608 of the United States Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners” (Raab B1). “Gotti spent the night in jail and was released the next day on 100,000 bail” (Raab B3). Gotti was a free man, but not for long. A year later Gotti was arrested for racketeering charges. This time the FBI had Gotti right where they wanted him. “They were going to use tapes that they recorded of Gotti to use against him in trial” (Rabb B7).
Gotti would spend most of his time in court for the next two years. During the trial rumor’s had it that Gotti had offered to bribe the jury for the trial to go in his favor, but since FBI did not have any evidence they could not do anything about it. On March 2, 1992, everything fell apart for Gotti. The one man that Gotti trusted more that anyone he knew turned against him. “Sammy the Bull Gravano made an agreement with federal agents and testified against Gotti” (Lubash B3). Two months later Gotti was convicted of “Eleven racketeering acts, the murder of Paul Castellano, conspiracy, and obstruction of justice” ( Lubash B3).
On “June 23,1992 Gotti was sentenced to life in prison with no possibility of parole” ( Elliot 2). John Gotti was a man of great power and respect. Some of his actions may have been uncalled for, but he had to make a living somehow. Some of his actions may have been illegal as well. But he was doing something that no one really realized and that was he was bringing money into New York and helping out their economic growth. The prosecutors only saw one thing in him and that was he was evil. The U. S. government may have been a little unfair for letting Gravano walk just because he helped bring one of the most powerful Mob bosses down.