Get Gotti (2023) s01e02 Episode Script

Episode 2

[Sal Polisi] Many mob guys
have little nicknames
because of something they've done
or something they do.
It's like they like bananas,
they call him Joey Bananas.
With me, I was labeled Sally Ubatz
because in Italian,
it's pazzo, crazy, pazzo.
Because I would do outrageous things.
When I was 31 years old,
I got a mob assignment
to go to Florida
and send a message to this guy
who was sleeping
with a made member's wife.
So I flew down to Florida.
I met a guy down there.
He gave me a UPS uniform, a UPS truck,
and I went to the house.
I knocked on the door.
I was delivering a little box.
The girlfriend opened the door.
I pushed her to the side,
went in there, put a knife to his throat,
and tied him down to the pool table.
[man on recording]
[Polisi] I took his pants off.
[man on recording]
And then I sliced his balls.
[slicing sound]
It was nothing personal. It was business.
[tape rewinding]
[Anthony Ruggiano Jr.]
There's three cardinal rules of the mafia.
Don't go with another made member's wife,
don't sell drugs, and never cooperate.
[man on recording]
[Ruggiano] I mean,
that's a death sentence.
Back then,
it was the worst thing you could do.
[man on recording]
[Polisi] You had to keep
everything secret.
You're never allowed
to reveal any information
and become a rat or a stool pigeon.
[man on recording]
[Andrea Giovino]
If you rat, you get tortured.
They cut pieces of you and burn you.
They make them suffer.
[man on recording]
[Polisi] Many times,
the mob would leave the body out.
They wanted to show an example
of disrespect and disloyalty.
[Gotti on recording]
The reputed head of one of the nation's
largest organized crime families
is on trial in New York.
The prosecutors charge that John Gotti
has murdered his way
to the top of the mob.
[people clamoring]
[Diane Giacalone]
My name is Diane Giacalone.
During the 1980s,
I was an assistant US attorney
in the Eastern District of New York.
We investigated organized crime,
we investigated drug cases,
hijacking cases, pretty much everything.
And in 1985,
we filed our case against John Gotti
and eight members of the Gambino Family.
The charges were murder,
illegal gambling, loan-sharking,
and truck hijacking.
[reporter] At stake is
his personal freedom and his reputed spot
at the top of the nation's
most powerful crime family.
[George Gabriel]
As we're focusing on John,
and we're evolving
as to how we're gonna attack the case,
suddenly, we get word
that Diane's case was coming.
I mean, we were all a little surprised.
[Jim Kossler] The FBI didn't have anything
to do with that investigation.
We were investigating Gotti separately.
So there was a lot of conflict over this.
[Giacalone] We were the only ones
with a case.
So we were the ones on the line
to bring him down.
We thought we had
more than enough evidence
to convict John Gotti and his crew.
[reporter] The charges cover
an 18-year period
when Gotti was a Mafia capo,
before he became family boss.
If convicted, Gotti could face
20 years in prison.
[reporters clamoring]
[Eric Shawn] Outside the court,
it was a circus.
This frenzied, electric atmosphere.
I'd never been in a trial that had
this kind of national media attention.
We had a trial with incredible characters.
We had John Gotti.
You're the new head of the family?
My family. My house, wife and kids.
- That's the only family?
- [woman] How about the Gambino family?
[Nevins Taylor] We had Diane Giacalone.
[reporter] Some prosecutors
didn't want the case.
One did, Diane Giacalone.
A girl from the neighborhood
who went after bad guys.
- [man] Morning, Mr. Cutler.
- Good morning.
[Nevins Taylor]
We had John Gotti's lawyer, Bruce Cutler.
- [reporter] Who do you represent?
- I represent John Gotti.
[Nevins Taylor] A boy from Brooklyn
who was obviously in love
with this man, John Gotti.
Bruce Cutler. It's comical.
I think he wanted
to fucking be John Gotti.
He dressed like John Gotti,
and he'd shake our hands
and kiss us on the cheek like a wise guy.
[Nevins Taylor] And we had a string
of other excellent defense attorneys
who defended their clients.
[Susan Kellman] I'd have to say,
if I have one rule of thumb,
it's I really never ask
the client what happened,
because, frankly,
I don't really give a fuck.
What's important to me
is what the government says it can prove.
And that's what being
a defense lawyer is about.
[Michael Shapiro]
My name is Michael Shapiro,
and September of '85, I was 35 years old,
working on the Gotti case.
The primary charges were RICO charges.
RICO is Racketeer Influenced
and Corrupt Organizations Act.
The beauty of RICO charge
from a prosecutor's perspective
is that you can use crimes
for which
there have already been convictions.
The defense team knew that the government
had never lost a RICO case.
The Gotti case, one of the charges
was the killing
of Jimmy McBratney in Staten Island.
Gotti had pleaded guilty.
He did prison time on that charge.
So, the only question for the jury was
was that killing and the other charges
under the RICO indictment
in furtherance of the enterprise
of the Gambino organized crime family?
And that was what Diane Giacalone
set out to try to prove.
I'm a young guy,
only on the job five years.
I've got a lot of, as the saying goes,
piss and vinegar in me.
I'm sitting in the back row of the court.
John stands up, and he's looking around
the courtroom, and he sees me,
I'm not a small person,
and says, "Hey! Who are you?"
So, you know, I kind of stood up,
and I did one of these.
I said, "Are you talking to me?"
He goes, "Yeah, who are you?"
I said, "George Gabriel."
"I'm on Bruce Mouw's squad. Just,
you know, here to kind of observe and"
"Well, you go tell that Bruce Mouw
that I'm gonna come home.
I'm beating this rap."
I go, "Oh, okay."
"Tell you what. If you do,
I'll come by and congratulate you."
[Mary Murphy] At the time, I didn't know,
and I don't think a lot of reporters knew,
the FBI didn't want Giacalone
to be doing this case.
So there was this tension.
When Diane Giacalone brought charges
against John Gotti and his crew,
in that crew was a man
named Willie Boy Johnson,
who was a Gotti loyalist.
He'd been with Gotti since they were boys.
But he was also a "rat."
[Gabriel] Willie Boy Johnson
had been cooperating with the FBI
for years, but nobody knew.
We didn't share that with anybody.
We went to Diane Giacalone,
asking her not to indict him.
And I would tell my bosses,
"If we don't do something
and put a stop to this,
he's gonna get killed by Gotti
if it becomes known
that he was an informant."
[Giacalone] Willie Boy Johnson
was not just an FBI informant.
He was also a violent criminal.
He was intimately involved
in some of the most violent conduct
that the crew committed.
And we could not separate him
from the indictment
and still bring the case.
In the courtroom,
Diane Giacalone, to the horror of the FBI,
explained to the judge that
We wanted to remand one of the defendants
because he had been an informant
for 15 years.
[newscaster] They call him "Willie Boy."
He is sitting next to John Gotti,
but he is far, far from close.
[Murphy] It was pretty shocking.
Gotti was sitting right next to him.
The way it was revealed was terrible.
Willie Boy was around for years.
He was a big earner.
He knew all the five families.
[Frank O'Hara] After they picked
Willie Boy up off the floor,
John Gotti gave him a look
that would have killed him.
You wouldn't wanna take
a life insurance policy out on him
if you were an insurance company.
We took no pleasure in what we did,
but we did what was necessary.
We knew
that his life expectancy was not good.
When we have an informant,
part of our pitch is,
"We will not disclose your identity."
Diane Giacalone threw that out the window.
[reporter] In court today,
Assistant US Attorney Diane Giacalone,
began her opening statement
by telling the jurors
[Murphy] Diane Giacalone gave
a pretty good opening statement
in that trial.
Quite impressive.
We started with the McBratney homicide,
because it showed
John Gotti's rise to power.
Then I talked about the various elements
of the indictment.
So we went through the loan-sharking,
we went through the hijackings,
we went through the gambling.
[reporter] Giacalone claimed
several crimes,
for which other defendants in this trial
have already served time,
were not isolated incidents
but part of a conspiracy
to work together to commit crimes.
When I sat down, I felt I did my job,
and I felt pretty good about it.
That was probably the last time
I felt at home in that courtroom.
[reporter] Gotti's attorney, Bruce Cutler,
immediately went on the attack.
Bruce Cutler crucified her.
[Shapiro] Bruce told the jury
to think of the charges as a rancid stew.
And the reason I remember that
is I wrote it for him.
He said, "You can't make a stew
that anyone is gonna swallow
out of all of these rotten ingredients,
no matter how long you cook it."
And, in fact, in his opening statement,
Bruce Cutler just
Just picked up the indictment
and basically said
it was a piece of garbage,
and he tore it in half,
which was extremely dramatic.
The jury could not take their eyes
off him, and then he just
Threw the indictment in the trash can
in the courtroom and said
"That's where this indictment belongs,
in the garbage can."
Talk about a flourish. Talk about drama.
It was a [gasps]moment.
Diane's case had a lot of cooperators
in it. Always a lot of risk in that.
We're not talking
people walking the street.
We're talking people
who are in and around organized crime.
Who else testifies in a Mafia trial?
[Polisi] I was the first witness
in the John Gotti 1987 trial,
and I was, like, the star witness.
In 1984, I was arrested
with four ounces of cocaine.
I was held on a million dollars bail.
While I was in prison in the summer
of '84, my wife came to visit me.
My two sons were outside
the visiting room, waiting.
When she left, I saw my two kids crying.
That was the moment
where I decided, "I gotta flip."
"I gotta get out of this life.
I don't wanna keep torturing them."
Finally, one day, I made a phone call.
I'm gonna work with the government.
Little did I know, two years later,
the government was gonna call me
to testify against John Gotti.
Sal Polisi had a lot of history
with the crew.
And he told it, and he told it well.
He's a smart man. He was articulate.
And then Bruce got up, and he just
I've heard the word, "Brucified,"
and it's a fantastic way to describe
how Bruce approached cross-examination.
[Polisi] Bruce Cutler, he attacked me
every day for seven days.
And he really pummeled me
and called me a lowlife, a yellow dog.
And he found out details about me,
you know, about how many girls
I had in one night,
cutting the guy's balls off.
I had to admit everything that was true.
John Gotti was sitting
at the end of the defendant's table,
and he took his right hand,
and he put it on the table,
and made, like, a gun.
And I knew what he was saying.
"We're gonna kill you."
[Murphy] As well as Sal Polisi,
Diane Giacalone
is counting on a few witnesses.
The paid witnesses,
witnesses who've lied in the past,
witnesses who've gotten new identities,
witnesses who've sold drugs,
witnesses who've killed people.
[Shapiro] They were some of the most
impeachable witnesses imaginable.
A veritable zoo of lowlifes.
James Cardinali is a key witness
against John Gotti.
[Nevins Taylor] And each of them
gets on the stand,
and one after the other is less credible.
[Shawn] Cardinali admitted
he didn't wanna be in the witness chair,
but it was better than the electric chair
in Florida, where he committed murder.
[Kellman] A second witness the government
called was Dominick LoFaro.
Dominick LoFaro admitted today
that he originally lied
to Federal authorities.
At first, he said he killed
more than 15 people.
Today he said it was only two.
We were basically being portrayed
as incompetent.
[newscaster] The government's case
against John Gotti took a beating today.
A bank robber named
Matthew Traynor was on the stand.
Now he's supposed to be
a witness against Gotti.
[Giacalone] Matthew Traynor was
a problematic witness but useful.
Until I didn't trust him anymore.
He started to say things
that didn't make sense to me.
And at that point, we decided
we would not use him as a witness.
He actually testified for the defense
and said that Diane Giacalone
had tried to bribe him.
I was given the drugs I wanted.
I was given liquor.
[Nevins Taylor] He said she gave him
her panties from a bottom desk drawer,
so that he could take care of himself.
I was provided
with a kinky sexual release.
Matthew Traynor was later convicted
of perjury for his testimony.
I turned to my co-counsel and said,
"What juror in his right mind
would believe this shit?"
[Murphy] Traditionally, in New York,
the prosecutors publicly
do not engage with the press.
Defense attorneys,
that's what they get paid for.
Bruce knew how to engage with the press
better than any other defense lawyer
I've ever dealt with.
He knew how to use the press.
He knew how to amuse the press.
It's not nice to see you, Geraldo.
I'm not a fan of yours.
John Gotti had his own
media-spinning PR outfit
like the White House Press Secretary.
[reporter] Lawyer Bruce Cutler charged
that the government doesn't like
sharp dressers, gamblers,
people like John Gotti.
[Giacalone] I never knew
that I had a bias against sharp dressers.
I thought
I was a pretty sharp dresser myself.
Bruce Cutler was always walking around,
"The government will do anything
to put John Gotti in jail."
Cutler maintains that the government
is just out to get Gotti.
[Murphy] They're hoping the jury
will see that narrative,
the public will see that narrative,
the jurors' families
will see that narrative.
[Shawn] All this just reinforced
the image of John Gotti
[man] He's always been
a respectable person in the community.
and the public ate it up.
I find it very hard to believe
what they're saying about him.
What Godfather? He's just a good man.
Good evening.
This is the CBS Evening News,
Dan Rather reporting.
[Giacalone] They returned the verdict
on a Friday.
[Stasiuk] I remember exactly where I was
when I heard the verdict.
A park in upstate New York,
with my radio on, All News 88.
[Gabriel] I'm on the street
with my partner. We're driving around.
And we actually hear as the news
comes out of the radio on the car
John Gotti was acquitted by a jury
on all counts
of conspiracy and racketeering.
He was found not guilty on all counts.
[Giacalone] Disbelief,
I think, was the main feeling.
I felt that I had been beaten,
physically beaten.
My body was actually sore.
The result was a major defeat
in the government's fight
against organized crime.
John Gotti strode out
of that courthouse like a star.
[reporter] How do you feel, Mr. Gotti?
[newscaster] In a six-month trial,
the government couldn't make
their case stick.
[reporter] Were you surprised?
I was flabbergasted.
It was the first successful defense
of a RICO case.
[man] God bless America.
The vindication was proper,
and we both expected it.
And we're very pleased we got it.
[Giovino] When the not-guilty verdict
came in,
people were saying,
"Bruce Cutler, he's the best attorney."
No, it wasn't Bruce Cutler.
It really wasn't Bruce Cutler.
The case was beat
because somebody paid the juror $60,000.
[reporter] Jurors then taken home
by federal marshals in limos.
[Polisi] I told Diane Giacalone,
"I cannot believe
that you got the jurors getting in a limo
and driving all over Brooklyn,
dropping 'em off."
"You think the mob is stupid?
They're following them."
"John Gotti's gonna pay somebody off."
And she said, "Sal,
you're watching way too much television."
And I laughed.
You know, when he got acquitted,
I go, "Yeah, he pulled it off."
[reporter] John Gotti had a lot
to smile about,
as he picked his way
through the cameras outside his home.
[Giacalone] I didn't find out till later
that there was a compromised juror.
There were many signals I missed.
I missed the fact
that John Gotti never was nervous.
He was just as cheery as could be.
He knew that he could not be convicted.
And so what would have been
an extraordinarily risky defense
for any other defendant
was just sport for him.
When the verdict came in "not guilty,"
it was a big party.
["Blue Monday" by New Order playing]
[Gabriel] I turned to my partner and said,
"Let's head
to the Bergin Hunt & Fish Club."
And the place was a mob scene.
I spot John Gotti.
I walked straight up to him and said,
"You probably don't remember me.
I'm George Gabriel."
"I told you I'd be here
to congratulate you. Congratulations."
"I'll be seeing you."
And I turned around
and got back in the car, and we left.
[people clamoring]
You know, after that trial, he got a boat.
And on the back of the boat,
he named it "Not Guilty."
[reporter] The government says
John Gotti is a cold-blooded killer,
perhaps the most ruthless
and powerful mob boss in America.
[Shawn] Gotti became a paparazzi subject.
[reporter] Then why is the guy so popular?
Tell me how do I feel ♪
Tell me now how do I feel ♪
[Shawn] He went from being
the criminal mob boss
to the New York American celebrity.
[reporter] Recently,
Gotti made the big time.
[Giovino] Time magazine
commissioned Andy Warhol
to do a portrait of Gotti
that would be on the cover.
There are heroes
who do great things for our country,
and they're not on the cover
of Time magazine, but a mob boss is.
[Maury Povich] Mr. Gotti is almost
as famous for his sartorial splendor
as for his reputation as a crime overlord.
[Ruggiano] That's when
he got the nickname.
The man they call "The Dapper Don."
Because of Gotti, we were movie stars,
because people wanted to be like us.
[dance music playing]
[Ruggiano] The celebrities wanted
to hang out with us.
I'm blowing coke with Andy Warhol.
I'm blowing coke with David Bowie.
They trusted us, number one, they knew
we weren't gonna call up the magazines.
They knew we had good coke.
[Giovino] It was great
because you're around so much money,
excitement, prestige, glamour.
[Ruggiano] I was with him one night.
Brooke Shields stuck her phone number
in his pocket in Club A,
and he ripped it up.
I told him, "What the fuck are you doing?"
He goes, "She's my daughter's age."
I said, "Give me that number."
Okay, we're back with a prank
on America's most famous
alleged Godfather,
New York's Dapper Don John Gotti.
[O'Hara] When you see him on TV,
when he's wearing his $2,000 suit,
his hair is perfect,
people see him, they love him.
He's a star.
But behind closed doors,
he's a ruthless killer.
And look what happened to the guy
who had the job before him.
See what a high-stress job can do to you?
[police siren wailing]
John Gotti is two for two
in the win column.
[Stasiuk] The Diane Giacalone trial
was primarily based
all on informant testimony.
So the next case was gonna
have to use electronic surveillance
where John Gotti himself
was intercepted in many conversations.
We still had the bug evidence
from the Bergin Hunt & Fish Club.
And we had tremendous conversations.
We still had every intention
to make our own case.
[Ron Goldstock] We had conversations
that no one else could possibly have.
And so we were competition for the FBI.
And that meant the FBI
needed to step up its game.
[Gabriel] The FBI has yet to bring
a case against John Gotti.
But we knew the crimes
he was responsible for,
and he's walking the streets.
He and everybody else knew
that the government
was gonna come back at him.
The government had no choice.
Whenever you undertake one of these cases,
you gotta work closely
with the prosecuting attorney.
In this case,
it was the Eastern District of New York.
Laura Ward was
a very knowledgeable prosecutor,
very skilled, very brilliant.
She was great to work with.
After Diane Giacalone's case,
the FBI immediately focused on Gotti.
And now we were gonna take him down.
George Gabriel was appointed
with the task of getting Gotti.
I was not gonna be in a rush.
I knew that to put this guy in jail,
if he was able to beat the feds once,
you had to be really good
at whatever your evidence was gonna be.
Had to be airtight, had to be very strong.
[Laura A. Ward] George was
on a mission to get Gotti,
but he had to get Gotti good.
While we're working the case on John,
we're surveilling him and doing our thing.
Suddenly, I get a call
from one of the squads in New Jersey.
A man was killed mob-style
outside his home in Brooklyn this morning.
The victim, Wilfred "Willie Boy" Johnson,
who police call a close associate
of alleged mob boss, John Gotti.
That guy's destiny was already written.
That guy was going. He was going to sleep.
[reporter] Johnson was shot several times
in the head outside his home.
[Bruce Mouw] One of the rules is
don't kill a guy in front of his house.
That's an insult to his wife and kids.
So, if they really hate a guy,
and wanna send a message,
they'll whack him by his house.
[Giacalone] I'm sorry he was killed.
I feel very sorry for his family,
but it was an inevitable end
to a life that led in only one direction.
[Shawn] The day after Willie Boy Johnson
was murdered by Gotti's men
[man] Morning, Mr. Gotti.
he comes out of his house, and we say,
"What do you think of Willie Boy Johnson?
What's your opinion? What do you think?"
And he said,
"Well, we all gotta go sometime."
[Gabriel] A couple of months
into his administration,
informants started saying
that Gotti was gonna set up
his headquarters
at the Ravenite Social Club.
[Ruggiano] When John took over
the Ravenite,
he gutted it out. He built the brick wall.
He made a little small window
so you couldn't see in.
I would say he fortified it.
[Gabriel] The Ravenite's located
in Little Italy.
Little Italy has every
organized crime family hanging out there.
They've got restaurants.
They've got clubs.
It's their backyard.
So we're the outsiders.
We can't go in there
without being spotted.
Everybody in those apartments,
on the streets,
are loyal to the wise guys,
so it's very difficult to do anything.
We supply people with jobs.
On Thanksgiving, we gave out turkeys.
People grew up with us and trusted us,
and we helped them.
We helped the community.
If people came to us
for favors, we did 'em.
I'm not afraid. In fact, I feel safer.
- [man] You feel safer?
- Well, I sure do.
[man] Why is that?
My cars have been stolen
in every area but this one.
[Ward] In Ozone Park, on Mulberry Street,
we're the bad guys, not the good guys.
[Gabriel] Despite that,
you have to do your job, right?
So I had to get in my van.
I had a surveillance van.
And try and park it
to get a good position on the club.
[woman on radio] You are clear.
You get in the back with all your cameras,
and you wait
until people start showing up.
There'd be several times these guys
would be walking down the street,
and they're knocking on every van,
saying, "We know you're in there."
The hope was to try
and get a plant some place, right?
Some fixed location
that I could keep a camera
on the front of the club.
And we could be
a little bit more secretive.
[Mouw] We found this condo.
It was on the sixth floor,
about two and a half blocks away.
[Gabriel] The good news was
we had a plant.
Kind of our home base of operations.
The bad news was
it was two and a half blocks away.
I had access to the Special Ops teams.
And we got fortunate
because the Bureau had some
very high-tech equipment.
Not a lot of people knew it existed.
I didn't know it existed.
[Matt Clifton]
As a technically trained agent,
one of our primary duties was to devise,
implement, and install
surveillance devices
in order to get the evidence
to successfully prosecute
the Mafia in New York City.
We installed state-of-the-art telescopic
video surveillance equipment
that allowed us to record the activity
at the entrance to the Ravenite
and the street adjacent to the Ravenite
seven days a week, 24 hours a day.
[Gabriel] The beauty of it was you could
take video two and a half blocks away
and make it look
like I was a hundred feet away.
Even at eight o'clock at night
in the middle of winter,
you'd think it was 3 p.m.
[Mouw] The video camera from that plant
gave you beautiful black-and-white
pictures of these guys coming and going.
You'd identify who they are,
what they're wearing,
what kind of cars they came out of.
Just tremendous bonanza of intelligence.
It was mind-blowing
to have that kind of technology.
By '89 into '90,
the Ravenite was in full swing.
John was always there
with his administration.
[Ward] And the most incredible
and helpful thing that Gotti did for us
is every Wednesday night,
he had the capos come down
with their associates
and soldiers as a group.
[Gabriel] And it was John Gotti,
Frankie LoCascio,
Sammy Gravano.
So he basically gave us
the outline of the family.
[Gabriel] The mob is supposed to be
a secret organization.
Having everybody show up
at one place in broad daylight
is not particularly secretive.
[Ruggiano] John Gotti was a gangster.
He didn't give a fuck about the FBI.
He didn't give a fuck
if the FBI took your picture.
He put everybody on front street,
and he felt like,
"You're in this life, you come to see me.
You ain't gonna be afraid of the cops."
"You ain't gonna be a captain
or a wise guy and hide in your house."
"You're gonna come here
like I'm here every day."
It wasn't the smartest thing to do,
but John Gotti thought he's invincible.
[Mouw] Gotti didn't stay inside the club.
What he would do, he would go out
on walk-talks around the block.
You could see the dynamics
of the hierarchy of people.
So, for example, there was a time,
John and Sammy are going for a walk.
And it starts to drizzle.
And Sammy's holding the umbrella for John.
John's not gonna hold the umbrella.
And then, you look two or three feet
behind 'em are the bodyguards,
the guys that are supposed
to stay and protect him.
Other times, you'll see if people
are coming up to greet John,
they're gonna greet John
before they greet Sammy.
So all of those are little telling factors
that give you an idea
of what the administration looks like,
the who's who,
and the closeness of some people
and/or the distance of others.
[Ward] Once we had people coming
and going, we had informants telling us
that John Gotti was in there
talking about crime.
But we had no idea what they're saying.
So, armed with that information,
we made an application
to go up on a bug inside the social club.
[Gabriel] Once we knew
we were gonna bug the Ravenite,
I'd then go back to the Special Ops guy
to figure out
how we're gonna make this happen.
[Clifton] We didn't really have
any real-time practical knowledge
of what the actual layout of the inside
of the Ravenite Social Club was.
Where were people sitting? Where was John?
Where was his lieutenants?
Where were the conversations taking place?
[Gabriel] Sometimes,
the tech guys have to go in,
kind of scan the place, figure out
what equipment they have to bring in.
Because when we would later
go back at night,
in the middle of the night, in the dark,
knowing what was in the room
and how it was configured,
it would help us tremendously.
Obviously, law enforcement personnel
can't just walk into a Mafia social club
in broad daylight.
So we had to get them
to invite us in, frankly.
And the way we did that was to do
what we called a trouble call.
Basically, place a little bit
of technical trouble
in some of the telephone capabilities
of the Ravenite,
which pre-empted
somebody in the Gambino family
to call for
a New York Telephone repairman.
But instead, they had the friendly members
of the Federal Bureau of Investigation SO1
visit their location.
I arrived off the street
as a repair service person.
When I first walked into the Ravenite,
it was very apparent
that the interior was very rudimentary.
Interestingly enough,
there was a portrait of Mr. Gotti
in the back of a room where he would sit.
[indistinct chatter]
We were able to observe
that there was some bookmaking operation
going on in there.
And they had what appeared to be
a fax machine connected to a phone line.
And in no uncertain terms,
wanted me to get the effing thing fixed
as soon as I can effing get it fixed,
they'd really appreciate it.
[distortion on line]
We were able to "fix their problem,"
And they were overjoyed.
One of the members of the crew
walked up and handed me
two brand-new, shiny $100 bills,
which being a good service person,
hard-working man, I accepted.
We left the scene.
And courtesy of the Gambino crime family,
took several members
of the SO1 technical squad out
to pizza and beer that day.
[Gabriel] Now, we had the intelligence
of where we needed to put the bug.
The Ravenite had two rooms.
John had a table in the back room
that he would typically sit at.
That's where people'd come to talk to him.
The bug had to be as close
as we could get it to that table.
[Swanson] In the 1980s,
I was a special agent with the FBI.
I was one of only six specially trained
lock agents in the country.
I had a partner, Ken Reader.
The man was brilliant with locks.
Now, what Kenny was gonna do
is he was gonna
impression a key for the Ravenite.
And impressioning is something
that's been done by locksmiths
for the last 100 years.
It's a bit of an art.
You put the key blank inside the cylinder,
and it leaves a mark, and you pull it out,
and you file it, and you keep doing that.
Eventually, you wind up
getting the key to open the door.
It normally takes about 15 minutes.
[voice on radio] 22 to Kenny.
In this particular case, with Kenny,
it took him three, four hours,
because every time the coast was clear,
Kenny'd almost get to the door
[man on radio] Eight-three-seven, 820.
and they would call him off and say,
"No, somebody's coming."
But by the end of the night,
he wound up with a key, and we were ready
to go to do our break-in.
[Clifton] Once the entrance was made,
we had to surreptitiously
install microphones
and transmitters, bugs, et cetera.
We had to take great pains
in order to conceal them.
And we had to basically watch ourselves
in very, very low light
with very small flashlights in our teeth.
Finally, we did some audio tests.
[man on radio] Hey, one, two, three, four.
Four, three, two, one.
Can you hear me, Charlie?
And Charlie would come back and say
[Charlie] Loud and clear.
[Clifton] It was
a very cool orchestration.
It was an event.
Within one to two hours, we were gone.
[Gabriel] Once we get the bug,
it's exciting to get to the plant,
put those headsets on.
Listen to all of the tapes
to see if there was anything
that was usable.
There's an ice machine in the front.
- A cappuccino machine in the front.
- [brewing]
You're picking up
every sound that you can imagine.
So you know
there's a lot of conversation going on.
You're not hearing any of it.
[indistinct conversation over wire]
[Ward] I just could not believe it.
You couldn't hear a thing.
I mean, it was a complete
waste of time and energy.
[indistinct conversation over wire]
[Gabriel] If the mics are not in
the best position,
you regroup with the Special Ops guys.
You know, "Is there anything
we can do to enhance this?"
And then you gotta weigh the risk
of trying to go back in.
[Swanson] We must have entered
the Ravenite more than a dozen times
over a 14-month period,
constantly moving the mics around.
[Mouw] We readjusted the bug.
We moved it next to the table.
We moved it to the ceiling over the table.
We tried different things,
but acoustically it was just a disaster.
Too many people in a small place.
That's where it really got frustrating,
because we had the video plant.
We could see these guys coming and going.
We see the walk-talks.
We had the bug there,
but we couldn't hear squat.
[distortion over wire]
[Ward] We knew we couldn't rely
on these tapes.
We knew we had to do better.
[Stasiuk] Even though we had heard
that the FBI had their own bug up,
we still had every intention
to make our own case.
So we went back
to all our old bug conversations
recorded inside
the Bergin Hunt & Fish Club in 1986.
[Goldstock] Greg comes
to see me one morning.
He had been listening
over and over again to the Gotti bugs
and had found something
that everybody else had missed.
Greg was so excited about it.
And, uh, you have to know Greg
to appreciate this.
He wrote a note.
[Stasiuk] And I put it on his desk
that night with a Post-It
that he's gotta look at the transcript.
In the event that,
while he was going home,
he had been in an accident
and was unable to tell us the next day.
[Stasiuk] So, the conversation
was intercepted in 1986
about a labor union leader who went
to a place called Bankers and Brokers.
[Ruggiano] Bankers and Brokers
is a restaurant in Manhattan
that's owned by a wise guy
in the Gambino family.
And he had non-union carpenters
come in and fix it.
The president of the carpenters' union,
O'Connor I believe his name was,
he said, you know,
"What the fuck are you doing?"
"You gotta use union guys."
'Cause the carpenters' union
was controlled by the mob.
So, what happens is
he took it upon himself
to go in there and have the place
torn apart after it was fixed.
The guy that owns the restaurant
is with John Gotti,
he's one of his soldiers.
So now the Gambino family has to step in.
[newscaster] A New York City Carpenters'
Union official was shot and wounded
in the lobby of the union's offices.
It had all the markings
of a gangland-style warning.
[Stasiuk] So the conversation
was very specific.
It mentioned John O'Connor.
The victim was
49-year-old John F. O'Connor.
[Gotti speaking]
Mentioned 608. The union.
Vice President of Local 608
of the United Carpenters' Union.
[Gotti speaking]
[reporter 1] Shortly before 7:00,
O'Connor walked into this building
at Broadway and 51st Street,
which houses his office.
- [Stasiuk] And mentioned that
- [Gotti speaking]
"We're gonna bust him up."
[reporter 2] O'Connor was shot four times
in the buttocks.
[Stasiuk] I listened to the recording,
and it was great. It was dynamite.
- [Gotti speaking]
- [rewinding]
[Stasiuk] We had all the elements
of a crime.
[Gotti speaking]
[Nevins Taylor] Suddenly,
we hear Gotti's been arrested.
[reporter] The Manhattan DA is bringing
murder conspiracy charges against Gotti,
stemming from the May 1986 shooting
of allegedly corrupt
carpenters' union official John O'Connor.
[Nevins Taylor] I called a source
that I had at the FBI,
and he said,
"John Gotti's not been arrested."
"If John Gotti were arrested,
I would know."
That's it, folks. That's it, folks.
[Nevins Taylor] But he didn't know.
And the reason he didn't know
is because the New York State
Organized Crime Task Force
was acting on its own,
was not working with the FBI.
OCTF wanted the publicity
of putting John Gotti in jail.
And because we couldn't make
a case fast enough,
they brought the O'Connor case
to the Manhattan DAs,
and they went forward with it.
Right now, it's almost a competition.
"They can't do it. Can you?"
[Gotti on recording]
So, all these people
were competing against each other
for the glory of prosecuting John Gotti.
[Gotti on recording]
[Ruggiano] John Gotti
was, you know, daring them,
like, "I dare you to come get me."
He was like, "Fuck you."
- You ready for this next case?
- I'm always ready.
[up-tempo music playing]
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