Gambino family boss Peter Gotti, brother and successor to ‘Dapper Don’ John, dies in prison at age 81

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Larry McShane, New York Daily News
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NEW YORK — One-time Gambino crime family boss Peter Gotti, the successor and older brother to John “Dapper Don” Gotti, died behind bars Thursday after losing two bids for early release, his lawyer confirmed. He was 81.

The former sanitation worker-turned-mob don was convicted in 2004 of racketeering conspiracy, including charges of placing a $70,000 bounty on the head of Gambino family turncoat Sammy (The Bull) Gravano — whose devastating testimony landed John Gotti in federal prison.

Peter Gotti’s younger, spotlight-loving sibling died behind bars as well in June 2002.

“I had a call (Thursday) morning that he died,” said attorney James Craven III. “That’s all I know. I liked him ... may he rest in peace.”

Peter Gotti spent his final two months in the FMC-Butner in North Carolina after a Manhattan federal judge flatly rejected his compassionate release application. Gotti was suffering from heart problems, dementia, blindness and cancer, according to court papers.

Craven said the elderly and ailing gangster was merely “as dangerous as he looked” in his final days. Gotti’s prison release date on federal convictions in both Manhattan and Brooklyn was set for 2032.

Manhattan Federal Judge Colleen McMahon shot down the elderly mobster’s most recent appeal for early release in a December decision noting that “Gotti headed one of the most vicious and violent organized crime organizations in New York for a number of years.”

Peter Gotti was almost an accidental mobster, living as a retired sanitation worker and collecting a disability pension until taking over as acting Gambino boss in 1997 and as boss in 2001, authorities said. He lacked the flair and ambition of kid brother John, the flashy Mafioso known for his pricey suits, hand-painted ties and larger-than-life persona.

His nephew John (Junior) Gotti pleaded guilty to racketeering charges in 1999, further elevating Peter Gotti’s standing in the family. Peter Gotti’s 2004 Manhattan conviction came as he was already behind bars for a separate Brooklyn federal conviction.

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