Get Gotti (2023) s01e01 Episode Script

Episode 1

["Jingle Bells" playing]
[Laura A. Ward] On December 16th,
it was a holiday week.
People were out Christmas shopping.
I was sitting in my windowless office,
as I often did,
working on the Castellano case.
[reporter] Paul Castellano's
awaiting trial
in the biggest organized crime case ever.
A case that I'd worked on
for almost a year.
[reporter] Charged with murder, extortion,
drug smuggling and racketeering.
Paul Castellano was considered
the boss of bosses back in the '80s.
He was the boss
of the biggest organized crime family,
the Gambino family.
[reporter] Castellano left the federal
courthouse in lower Manhattan tonight
after posting
two million dollars bail money.
[Ward] I thought we had a slam-dunk case,
and we were putting
the final touches on it.
And all of a sudden,
my phone started to light up.
- [phone ringing]
- All my lines were lighting up.
[Eric Shawn] I was in the newsroom
at Channel 11 at the time,
and suddenly,
the police scanner started screaming
about shots fired in Midtown.
[officer on radio] Shots from
the street here around 5:20. One
- [Shawn] Over on 46th Street.
- [officer] Here on 46th street.
Right outside Sparks Steak House.
- [man 1] Is the man in the street now?
- [man 2] He's lying by his car.
[Shawn] Two people gunned down brazenly
just after five o'clock,
in Midtown during Christmas shopping.
[man on radio] The guys who did it,
they looked like male whites.
All three had tan trench coats.
[phone ringing]
[Ward] The FBI agent said,
"Laura, are you sitting down?"
And I said, "Is everything okay?"
He said, "No. Castellano is dead."
[reporter] Big Paul Castellano,
the most powerful
mafia boss in America, lies dead.
Shot multiple times
as he was getting out of his limousine
along with his bodyguard,
Tommy Bilotti.
I was floored.
I just I felt, "Oh my God."
A year's worth of work
just down the tubes.
[reporter] The king is dead.
What the fuck happened?
That's a huge deal.
That's like shooting the president.
Who would have the balls
to go kill boss of bosses?
I call my captain,
and I go, "Paul just got killed."
And he was, like,
really calm, and he goes like
The way his tone was
Like, I said, "Oh, shit," like.
And when I hung up the phone,
I said, "Fuck, they fucking did it."
[Ward] So, within a few hours of the hit
on 46th Street,
it became apparent to everybody
who had organized it,
and that was John Gotti.
[reporter] The government says
John Gotti is a cold-blooded killer,
perhaps he most ruthless
and powerful mob boss in America.
Tell me about it.
John Gotti was a Marvel Superhero
before there were Marvel movies.
He was the perfect character
for the time in New York.
The mob is supposed to be
a secret organization.
He flaunted it.
He played up to the camera.
He loved being in the limelight,
and the public loved him.
It made law enforcement look incompetent.
[Anthony Ruggiano Jr.]
He didn't give a fuck about the FBI.
He didn't give a fuck if you got arrested,
if you went to prison.
This was a slap in the face
of the federal government.
[Ruggiano] He was a killer.
He was a gangster.
We owned the fucking city.
[Ward] And now we were gonna try
to take him down.
No other way to put it. Get Gotti.
[John Gotti speaking]
["Call Me" by Blondie playing]
Color me your color, baby ♪
Color me your car ♪
[Andrea Giovino] New York in the '80s
was a perfect time to be a criminal.
Like, you can get away with everything.
You've got away with murders,
drug deals, extortion.
We owned New York.
There's nothing
you couldn't get away with. Nothing.
We're making millions on the streets.
Everything was about mink coats, jewelry.
Everything about that reeked glamour.
- Yeah.
- Wow.
People looked like,
"This is unbelievable."
Who wouldn't want to be us?
Who wouldn't want to be a criminal?
Call me ♪
John Gotti portrayed all of that.
He was a man to be feared.
[police sirens wailing]
[reporter] There is a dragnet out for
the hitman who executed mafia godfather
Paul Castellano.
[George Gabriel] In 1985,
I was about 29, 30 years old.
Had been on the Bureau
for just about five years.
The Paul Castellano homicide case,
that's a really big deal.
[radio squawking]
We're busy trying to see
if we can make the case on the street.
We were fortunate that we had informants
close to the inner circle
telling us that Gotti was behind it,
and many of the shooters
who were involved.
The problem is they cannot come out
and testify and tell the truth.
You're gonna get exposed.
So it's, "Сan we find witnesses
that will pick any of these guys out?"
People didn't talk. No. No way.
Who's gonna say, "Yeah, I saw something"?
You'd have to be a moron
because your days are gonna be numbered.
They're afraid.
They know what the mob can do to them.
[reporter] Not for 50 years
has New York seen a mob murder
of this great a magnitude.
[Sal Polisi] When I heard about the 1985
Castellano assassination, the whack,
it had John Gotti written all over it,
because that's who he was.
Gotti and I, we came up
the ranks together through the '70s.
We robbed trucks together
with Tommy DeSimone.
The same Tommy that was in Goodfellas,
the character Pesci played.
What do you mean, "Don't be like"
Working your way up in the mob,
you had to do a murder, something.
And then you would be looked at
like a potential made man.
John Gotti had a lot of guts,
a lot of balls.
He was willing to commit a murder
and not ask no questions.
The boss tells you
to do something, you do it.
[Polisi] James McBratney
was a tough guy from Staten Island
whose crew was kidnapping Italian mob guys
and holding them for ransom.
So the word went out,
and John Gotti got the assignment
to go kill this McBratney guy.
And John and two other people
went out to Staten Island
and killed him in the bar.
[reporter] The three men struggled
with McBratney.
Then, with sudden fury,
one, two, three, gunshots explode.
Jimmy McBratney is dead.
The three men flee.
John got arrested for it.
[prison door clanking]
He went to jail. And he came out in '77.
That's when he became a made guy.
[Ruggiano] He got straightened out.
He got his button.
You know, he's a friend now.
There's all kinds
of little slang things and terminologies,
but they all mean he became
a made member of a crime family.
He was projecting that he was gonna be
the mob boss of New York,
and I kind of laughed.
But John Gotti was much more clever
than everybody realized.
[reporter] Today, some law enforcement
officials were quietly speculating
that the hit
on the top mob boss in America
was ordered
from within the Gambino family.
[Bruce Mouw] For us in the FBI,
that's very frustrating.
We knew who did it.
We knew who ordered it.
But yet, you have to try
these guys in court and prove it.
That's a big burden to overcome.
[Gabriel] We're not getting witnesses.
So, you know, we were desperate to try
and build that case any way we could.
Remember that a crime family
is like running a business.
They have to meet and discuss things,
to collect the money, to send out orders,
to commit crimes.
We started surveilling John Gotti more
and realized he was holding court
at his club in Queens
called the Bergin Hunt & Fish Club.
[Ruggiano] Every mob family had a club,
and John Gotti
had the Bergin Hunt & Fish Club.
My father took me there
when I was 12 or 13.
And that's when I started to understand
what my father did for
You know, who he was,
that he was mobbed up.
The Bergin Hunt & Fish Club,
that was our office.
We socialized,
and we would talk about crimes.
We started out our day in the social club,
having some danishes and coffee,
and then we pillaged and plundered
New York City for the rest of the day.
[Mouw] You always wish
you had a microphone,
because you see these guys
going inside a club.
You know they're talking.
You wish you'd capture that conversation.
You know it's gonna be illegal.
That's easier said than done.
And one of the hardest things of this case
was that every law enforcement agency
wanted a piece of it for the glory.
So we had a deal
with the police department, OCTF.
Everybody's out there.
[Frank O'Hara]
The Organized Crime Task Force
didn't have the resources the FBI had.
The FBI was like
the Third Marine Division.
They had the manpower. They had the money.
They had everything you need.
Whereas the Organized Crime Task Force
was more like a Seal Team.
We could do things a lot faster.
[Ron Goldstock]
We were small. We were nimble.
And we became competition for the FBI.
So the FBI, they suddenly decided
to work very hard to catch up.
Our investigation put us
one or two steps ahead of the FBI,
because our probable cause was developed,
and it enabled us to get a bug
in the Bergin Hunt & Fish Club
seven months
before Paul Castellano was killed.
[indistinct radio chatter]
In the '80s, when we tailed mobsters,
it wasn't an easy task.
From the time they left their house
to the time they went home at night,
they were always looking,
looking, looking.
But most people are creatures of habit,
like John Gotti.
He left his house
about the same time every day.
He went to the same place every day,
the Bergin Hunt & Fish Club
on 101st Avenue.
Because we knew
that Gotti was an up-and-comer,
it struck us that this was a place
to invest our time and money.
[Fred Rayano] We knew everybody else
had tried to put the bug
in the Bergin Hunt & Fish Club.
The Queens DA's office
and the FBI had failed.
So we figured we better be very careful.
[O'Hara] You had to realize
that you're in the neighborhood,
and you're a stranger.
So you were kind of like a piece of coal
sticking out of a cotton field.
I mean, you know,
people were looking for surveillance.
So I had to create a scene.
We had a detective
routinely park a box truck
along a street next to the Bergin Club.
And put cardboard out,
so that the garbageman would pick it up.
People would get used to seeing it.
And he would have coffee
at the luncheonette across the street,
read the newspaper,
get in his truck and drive away.
So this became a routine
that people became familiar with.
That must have taken a month or so.
There came the day we decided to go.
We had a guy
that was great at picking locks.
Great at picking locks.
That afternoon,
the detective put a refrigerator box out
slightly near the door.
The idea of the box was,
for anybody walking by,
it was an empty box against the building.
Inside the box
is the lock man.
One side of the box was cut open.
As soon as the door was unlocked,
he signaled us.
The entry team went to work
to place the bugs in the place.
I was a lookout.
I could see the front of the place.
[Rayano] The first thing you do
when you're inside is survey.
Where's the most likely place
that people are going to gather,
and you're gonna
pick up their conversations?
There was a door leading to the back room.
Looked like a barbershop.
It was all set up
with a regular barber's chair,
with the phone right next to it.
Clearly, that's where John would sit.
I mean, knowing his personality.
Everybody was below him.
So we put a bug in there.
[O'Hara] They were inside
for about 20, 25 minutes
when suddenly a car rolled past.
And they were sitting there
looking at the Bergin Hunt & Fish Club.
This was a very precarious situation,
and I warned the team that
[through radio] somebody is suspicious
and getting visits.
We heard somebody shaking the door.
Were they going to go in the place?
Did they have guns?
I said, "Nobody move. We're the burglars."
"Let's see what they do."
[doorknob rattling]
[knocking at door]
[O'Hara] I decided to come out
around the corner.
For some unknown reason, they followed me.
And they followed me
for about three-quarters of a mile.
The entry team
finished their job real quick.
And like thieves in the night, beat feet.
[indistinct conversation]
Now we've got the bug in.
We ran a hard cable
to our analyst, Greg Stasiuk,
so he can listen
and extract the intelligence.
[Gregory Stasiuk] One of the very
first conversations I listened to,
all of a sudden, I hear them
talking about killing someone.
I'm thinking, "Oh my God, I can't believe
they're open about this. Amazing."
[man speaking]
But the sound just didn't sound right.
It just sounded kind of off,
like it really wasn't right.
[man speaking]
Then I realized no one was in the room.
[mob movie playing]
The TV was on. And some mob movie was on.
And it was just people talking on the TV.
And then finally
I heard the voice of John Gotti himself.
[Gotti speaking]
And his voice has a presence.
[Gotti speaking]
[Stasiuk] The court gives us 90 seconds
to determine if the conversation
is criminal or not.
And then we have to stop recording
and stop listening.
And then, after maybe two minutes,
they go back on.
[Gotti speaking]
During those 90 seconds we would get him
whistling or Pretty boring stuff.
[Gotti speaking]
But you got some insight into him,
even during those 90 seconds.
[Gotti speaking]
[Bobby speaking]
[Gotti speaking]
[Bobby speaking]
[Stasiuk] You can tell
from the conversation,
everybody looked at him
as an up-and-comer.
He was admired by his men.
[Gotti speaking]
[Ruggiano] He was always smart,
sharp, funny.
He just had a presence about him.
It was like a moth to a flame.
That's what it was like.
[Gotti speaking]
One thing you could tell
is that John Gotti
had a gambling addiction.
[announcer] The feature race,
the eighth, and they're off.
[Gotti speaking]
[Stasiuk] The initial court order
gives you the authority
to do electronic surveillance for 30 days,
and then you have to renew it.
And you have to keep
finding crimes in the conversations
in order to renew
the electronic surveillance.
[Goldstock] The problem was,
because Gotti gambled himself,
it muddied the waters as to
what was legal and what was illegal.
It's not illegal to gamble.
It's only to run a gambling operation
that's illegal in New York.
[announcer] for 192 yards.
New England with two touchdowns
within 15 seconds!
[Goldstock] We decided that
it wasn't worth keeping the bug in there.
So we notified the court,
and we stopped the bugging process.
[tape audio cuts]
There was nothing that we heard
that would indicate
that Gotti was planning
an attack on Castellano.
["Relax" by
Frankie Goes to Hollywood plays]
[anchor] Our lead story
is still that hit in Manhattan,
the execution of big Paul Castellano.
A Brooklyn funeral parlor
is filled with flowers tonight
for Castellano's wake,
and no doubt some sent
by the man who ordered the killing.
[reporter] The speculation in
law enforcement circles centers on the man
believed to be the person
who would most profit
by Castellano's death,
alleged Gambino family capo
and possible successor, John Gotti.
Relax, don't do it
When you want to go to it ♪
Relax, don't do it
When you want to come ♪
[Ruggiano] After the hit, a week later,
all the captains met.
They voted John in, and then John
had a big Christmas party in the El Carib.
[Giovino] The best way I could explain it
is when the movie stars
all wait for the Academy Awards.
This is all the families,
and everybody is waiting.
"Let's go, tonight's the big night."
[Ruggiano] And it was mobbed.
You couldn't get in the door.
Everybody wanted to be up John's ass.
The whole family came.
There was, like, 300 guys there.
I was included. And, you know,
that's when he came out as the boss.
He walked in like a powerhouse.
Shoulders back,
very confident, very strong personality.
And everybody was going over to him.
"Hey, John, congratulations."
Kissing. Shaking his hand.
[Ruggiano] I was thrilled.
He was in my neighborhood.
Now I had a good relationship
with the boss.
You know, he liked me.
It was just a happy mood.
["Relax" continues playing]
[reporter] Look at this man's face.
He may already be the new godfather.
Lawmen believe
he may have also been behind this.
[siren blaring]
His name is John Gotti.
He is a member
of the Gambino crime family,
the family that Castellano ran.
[Mary Murphy] When you see the mug shot,
it stands out right away.
He was a handsome guy.
We start doing research.
We find out that he was
a plumbing supply salesman,
according to his business card.
Making $25,000 a year.
Come ♪
Yet he's riding around
in a $60,000 Mercedes.
[Stasiuk] After Castellano
and Tommy Bilotti were killed,
we went back through our tapes
to see if there was any information
that would support John Gotti
being involved
in the Paul Castellano,
Tommy Bilotti homicides.
[Rayano] Some of the recordings,
the detective who was monitoring
would mark them as inaudible.
So we had to go back
and review all of those tapes,
- particularly the inaudibles.
- [tape rewinding and stopping]
And that's where we started
to put the pieces together.
We recognized that early that summer,
there was a great deal of tension
inside the Gambino family
between Paul Castellano and John Gotti.
[Gotti speaking]
Paul Castellano had an edict
that if you dealt in drugs,
you would get killed.
And that was the basis
of John Gotti's problem
in that early summer.
There was two guys in John's crew
in the drug business.
One was his brother
and one was his best friend.
[Rayano] Well, they were arrested
and under indictment for drug dealing.
- Get out of the way.
- Out of the way.
There was a standard code in the mob.
You weren't supposed to deal drugs,
because you could get busted
and get 30, 40, 50 years.
Some of them will get life without parole.
So, that allowed the government
to pitch those guys, like,
"You know what? You wanna do life,
or do you want to come over
and become a witness or an informant?"
So, it was do the smack, get the whack.
And a lot of the guys followed the rules,
and they didn't make any money.
But you gotta realize,
the young guys were making big money.
I was a drug dealer,
and I was dealing heroin and cocaine.
Back then, I had 20,000 a week coming in.
That was a fortune.
[cash register rings]
Sal was the best coke connection
I ever had
because he never charged me any money,
and he always had coke.
Everybody was selling drugs.
There was a rule
that was, on the down-low, nobody kept.
Except guys like my father,
old school guys.
Guys would come to my father
with suitcases full of heroin,
and go, "Andy, go make yourself
a couple hundred thousand."
And he'd go, "I don't want that shit."
I told him, "Take it. Are you kidding me?"
He said, "I don't want it.
That's blood money."
"You're a murderer.
You're worried about blood money?"
He goes,
"Because I'll be the guy they kill."
"I'll be the guy
they make an example out of."
[Rayano] John's crew recognized
they were in dire straits,
and that day of reckoning was gonna come.
[Bobby speaking]
[Gotti speaking]
[O'Hara] John surrounded himself
with some tough guys.
Because he knew what he was gonna do,
and he wanted to be strong.
And then, maybe a week or two
before Paul Castellano was killed,
Paul overlooked John
and appointed Tommy Bilotti the underboss.
And that was the big mistake.
John's like,
"What are you fucking kidding me?"
John thought he was the next in line.
[Gotti speaking]
[Ruggiano] As far as John was concerned,
that puts the icing on the cake.
You know, now,
if I'm John Gotti, I'm sitting back.
I say, "Look at this guy.
He wants to kill my brother."
"Instead of making me the underboss,
he made Tommy Bilotti the underboss."
"That means they're gonna come after me."
[Gotti speaking]
[tape clicking]
Paul Castellano knows John's a threat,
and he wants John out of the picture.
And makes a remark to somebody
that he was gonna take care of John Gotti
right after Christmas.
Now, John Gotti, he's a gangster.
John Gotti does not give a fuck
about Christmas.
Now it's either kill or be killed.
And that was it, that was the last straw.
[tape clicking]
[Stasiuk] There was one tape in particular
recorded in June of 1985.
The audibility was not great.
[man speaking indistinctly]
We had heard it before, but we didn't pay
too much attention to it.
[tape rewinding]
But now we listen to it again and again.
[man speaking indistinctly]
[tape rewinding]
[Gotti speaking]
[tape rewinding]
[Gotti speaking]
[tape rewinding]
[Gotti speaking]
[tape rewinding]
[Gotti speaking]
[Stasiuk] We were very excited.
Now we have that conversation
now relating to a possible crime.
Because in December 1985,
Paul Castellano
and Tommy Bilotti are killed.
[police sirens wailing]
John Gotti became our main target.
[Gabriel] We're working the case on John,
surveilling him.
But John Gotti's not going to go out
on the street and shoot anybody anymore.
He's gonna tell people to do that.
That's the evidence
I have to figure out how I get.
So, ultimately, you have to put a bug in
on a guy like John Gotti
to put these people in jail.
The intent was to try and put a bug
in The Bergin Hunt & Fish.
And we find out
that the OCTF got into it before us.
It's the price you pay
for going after a guy like John Gotti.
There's a lot of egos involved,
and other entities
want to prosecute this guy.
It's a career case
for a prosecutor or an agent.
Bruce had only one focus,
and that was the Gambino family.
There was nothing else in the world
more important, and it was his.
And you didn't have
any business in his backyard.
It was like, um
They didn't like us.
So we didn't deal with them,
and I'm not gonna go into it.
So we were the only game in town
in New York City at the time,
and we were gonna
go ahead with our own case.
[Stasiuk] On December 26,
we're able to switch the bugs
inside the Bergin Hunt & Fish Club
back on.
And we were back up on John Gotti again.
[tape recording]
[man whistling "Jingle Bells"]
[Goldstock] And then
we really hit the jackpot.
There we are, taking the conversations
that no one else could possibly have
within days of him becoming boss.
He was leaving no room for dissension.
[Gotti speaking]
John Gotti had people come praise him.
He was relating how they praised him.
[Gotti speaking]
He's learning everything
that Paul Castellano
was making money off of.
[counting money]
[Bobby speaking]
[Gotti speaking]
We were getting great conversations
of him talking about money
coming in from the waterfront,
money coming in from the Concrete Club,
money coming in
from all the captains, all the soldiers.
And what's even better is
he's naming them by their full names.
[Gotti speaking]
[Stasiuk] We were now seeing
the caterpillar had come out
of its cocoon,
it's now the butterfly.
The boss of the Gambino crime family.
And we were getting
all those conversations.
[Ruggiano] When John became the boss,
we owned the city.
Every walk of life.
Every union. Every business.
You couldn't lay brick.
You couldn't get cement.
They had their hands in everything.
[Giovino] I know people
that owned big companies
that they went and shaked down.
They were paying.
They were afraid because this guy's scary.
Not for us.
For us, it was great. Wow, was it great.
[Ruggiano] We were doing 90,000,
100,000 dollars in business every day.
Every day. It's tremendous money.
[Gotti speaking]
[Bobby speaking]
After the Paul Castellano hit,
John Gotti wasn't charged.
[reporter] John Gotti's attorney
told us tonight
that federal agents
have not asked his client anything.
They've never even asked for an interview.
But then came this case.
This old piddling case
of kind of an assault,
an argument over a parking space.
[Murphy] Gotti had a case that was pending
in Queens, his home turf.
And this involved a refrigerator repairman
named Romual Piecyk.
About 18 months
before the Castellano hit, back in 1984,
Piecyk was driving home
from work in Queens,
and there was a double-parked car
blocking his way on the street.
So he started pounding on the horn.
[horn honking]
John Gotti punched him,
and there was
a kind of struggle fight on the street.
For us, it's like, "Really?"
"Was he that stupid
to smack somebody in broad daylight?"
But he was obviously that hot that day.
[Murphy] Piecyk was very annoyed
and went to flag some cops.
And they found John Gotti and his friend,
and the two of them were arrested.
[reporter] Four uniform cops,
who arrested Gotti,
did so several minutes
after the assault happened.
This was in 1984.
Fast-forward to early 1986.
The Queens district attorney
wants to bring
this assault and robbery case to court.
[A. Kirke Bartley] I was a trial attorney
in the District Attorney's Office.
This was about as straightforward a case,
involving a mobster,
that you could ever have.
It's an eyewitness, and they're arrested
minutes after the occurrence.
[Gabriel] We weren't really concerned
that it would jeopardize
the Castellano homicide case.
Even the informants
that were reporting to us,
they were all laughing about it.
Although it didn't seem that serious,
looking at John Gotti's record,
it's clear that with enhanced sentencing
as a predicate felon,
he'd be facing up to 15 years in jail.
So, for him, if convicted,
it was that serious.
You have to realize, the case was brought
when John Gotti was a capo,
he was one of 20 or 30 captains
in the family.
[Shawn] Can you imagine?
You file charges against somebody
who you don't even know,
because they attacked you on the street,
and then you find out
he's the new godfather.
[Bartley] In preparation for the trial,
I made an effort to contact Romual Piecyk.
[line ringing]
There was no Romual Piecyk.
I couldn't find him anywhere.
He wasn't living in the same location.
And his contacts didn't work.
And I had no witness.
I was You know, the case depended
upon Romual Piecyk testifying,
and to me, it was like he disappeared
off the face of the Earth. He was gone.
It's our job to find,
harass and kill witnesses.
My father used to tell me,
"You can't make money in prison."
So, when someone gets us in trouble,
we're gonna do
anything in our power to stay free.
[ambulance siren blaring]
[Bartley] Ultimately, the police found him
in a hospital out in Nassau County.
When I saw him with an arm sling,
what's the obvious thing that one thinks?
It's almost like it was a bad movie.
They say he's a reputed godfather.
[Bartley] He no longer wished to testify.
He had no choice, you know,
he had no choice whatsoever.
He was a witness.
And a witness being compelled to testify.
[reporter] Romual Piecyk and his wife,
Jeanette, have been living in fear
ever since Piecyk fingered this man,
reputed Gambino crime family boss,
John Gotti,
18 months ago.
[Shawn] It's a made-for-media situation.
Here comes John Gotti to court.
Finally, the guy who we were told
engineered the murder of the mob boss
is right in front of us.
[Bartley] You know,
he came out of Central Casting.
He looked like the godfather.
He dressed like the godfather, you know.
So there he was, the godfather.
The mob before John Gotti
always seemed to be old men
in rumpled suits or tracksuits.
And not that alluring.
And he came in like a movie star.
[Murphy] He walked in with a $2000 suit,
with hand-painted tie,
pinkie ring, every hair in place.
Very aware of the press.
Very aware of how
he would look to the public.
- [man] Anything to say about this case?
- No.
[man] About the charges against you.
They say the man's been scared off?
[Gotti] He don't look scared to me.
[Nevins Taylor] He wasn't like
the other mob bosses,
and he liked the spotlight.
He didn't hide from it.
He didn't say, "Ah, get out of my way."
You know, he didn't push you away.
He just walked right through it.
Like the Red Sea
was parting for John Gotti.
Cameras everywhere.
"Here I am. I'll take the spotlight now.
Thank you very much."
They're confused.
[Bartley] Piecyk's on the witness stand,
and I've asked him,
"Now, would you
look around the courtroom, Mr. Piecyk,
and can you identify
those individuals you've just described?"
He looked up at the ceiling.
They were sitting in front of him.
Instead of pointing to them and saying,
"You're the one who did this to me,
and that's why we're here,"
he says, "I don't know."
A key witness in the trial
of reputed mob boss, John Gotti,
suffered a sudden case
of amnesia on the witness stand.
[reporter] You believe that the witness
was coerced in some fashion?
I believe he's afraid, and I believe
he testified in fear of his life.
[reporter] Justice Ann Dufficy dismissed
all charges of assault against Gotti.
- They're not confused.
- [man] Do you have comment?
[Shawn] After Piecyk testified,
the New York Post had one of the classic
New York Post headlines of all time.
"I Forgotti."
And a legend was born.
I mean, after that, forget it.
It was non-stop coverage of John Gotti.
[Nevins Taylor] Gotti filled the void.
Gotti came into prominence in New York
at a time
when there was a homeless crisis,
when there was a crack epidemic,
when Reagan had been busting the unions,
and there was
the beginning of the wealth gap.
The news was grim
in New York during the '80s.
So, when somebody comes along,
and he looks like a superhero,
oh my God, we like him. He's getting over.
New York is a get-over town.
He's getting over. We like that.
[Murphy] Now he's on the cover
of New York Magazine.
He has power. He has reach.
And it just kept
snowballing and snowballing.
[Shawn] This was the beginning
of the tabloid era,
and people were fascinated.
It was made for tabloid.
It was made for this city.
It was made for the public's imagination,
and that's what John Gotti did.
He captured the public's imagination,
and the media helped build him.
Wise guys are fucking egomaniacs.
John was an egomaniac.
One thing about wise guys,
even for myself,
they're full of shit,
saying they don't like their names.
They love seeing their names in the paper.
I know when first time my name
was ever in the newspaper, I was thrilled.
When I went out that Friday,
I was like this, "Oh my God."
I was like a celebrity.
And I'm sure John did too.
[Gotti speaking]
[Ruggiano] So, yeah,
it was definitely exciting,
but, at the end of the day,
we all paid the price.
You only go so far
in a homicide investigation
until you run out of things to do.
We ran the leads down.
We realized we weren't gonna
solve this thing unless we had a break.
We were getting some criminal
conversations, but not quite enough
that we could actually make,
you know, a winnable case out of it.
[reporter] The government says
Gotti runs the Gambino crime family,
the biggest mob in the country.
But Gotti is a free man.
[Diane Giacalone] When John Gotti became
the head of the Gambino crime family,
the FBI did not have a case against him.
The OCTF did not have a case against him.
But we did.
We had a good case against him,
and we were prosecuting that case.
My name is Diane Giacalone,
and I was an assistant US attorney
in the eastern district of New York.
[reporter] The godfather
has a big problem tonight.
John Gotti could find himself
in a jail cell in a week.
The Piecyk trial
was the appetizer for the entrée.
The entrée then comes,
and that's the federal trial
in the eastern district in Brooklyn,
the US Government against John Gotti.
The charges were murder,
illegal gambling,
loan-sharking and truck hijacking.
[reporter] A federal judge ruled
that Gotti and seven others
must face racketeering charges in April.
[Shawn] The government had him.
[Ruggiano] My father,
he's looking at the newspaper, he goes,
"It's all over for us.
We're finished. We're done."
[man] Pardon me, John. Sir.
[Giacalone] We had
more than enough evidence
to convict John Gotti and his crew.
But we were absolutely unprepared
for the firestorm that followed.
[camera shutters clicking]
[electronic recording playing]
- [sirens blaring]
- [people clamoring]
[soft music playing]
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