Netflix’s new docuseries “Get Gotti” details the takedown of one-of-a-kind crime boss.
Law enforcement authorities longed to nab John Gotti, dubbed “The Teflon Don” for his ability to repeatedly evade the grip of the judicial system, thanks to jury tampering and witness intimidation. Gotti's status as a sharp dresser also earned him the nickname The Dapper Don: "He was a thug in a great-looking suit," a reporter who covered Gotti once told CNN.
Gotti became the head of New York’s Gambino crime family after orchestrating the 1985 killing of Paul Castellano, and became “more arrogant” on each of three occasion when he was tried and found not guilty, associate Andrea Giovino says in the docuseries. "He was more flamboyant. He was more outgoing,” she says. “He thought he was a movie star.”
In addition to Gotti’s former acquaintances, filmmakers spoke with FBI agents, members of New York’s Organized Crime Task Force and prosecutors for the docuseries (now streaming).
John Gotti III suspended six months for brawl after Floyd Mayweather exhibition match
John Gotti draws a celebrity following
Appearing to be untouchable rewarded the charismatic crime boss with a certain mystique. Gotti even graced Time's cover in 1986 in an illustration by Andy Warhol.
“The celebrities wanted to hang out with us,” mobster Anthony Ruggiano Jr. remembers in "Get Gotti," claiming he did cocaine with Warhol and David Bowie. Ruggiano Jr. says that one evening he witnessed Brooke Shields slipping her number into Gotti’s pocket at Club A. Gotti tore up the number, Ruggiano Jr. says, reasoning, “She’s my daughter’s age.” (A rep for Shields declined to comment to USA TODAY.)
Stars including Mickey Rourke attended Gotti’s 1992 trial on charges including murder, loan sharking and conspiracy to commit murder. John Amos described Gotti as “fascinating” to reporters at the Brooklyn courthouse. Anthony Quinn, who appears in HBO’s “Gotti,” told the Hartford Courant in 1996 that he showed up at the trial at Gotti’s request.
“He was very nice to me and very kind to me,” Quinn told the Courant. “In New York, whenever I went to a restaurant – for years – I would find a bottle of wine on my table from `Mr. G.’”
John Gotti’s downfall: Tapes and Sammy ‘The Bull’ Gravano
“The Teflon Don” was finally taken down in 1992 thanks to surveillance tapes captured by the FBI and New York's task force, as well as testimony from underboss Sammy “The Bull” Gravano.
The bugs the FBI hid in Little Italy’s Ravenite Social Club and an apartment above it captured Gotti explaining why Castellano was killed. The FBI also heard Gotti implicate himself in labor racketeering and admit to orchestrating killings such as that of mobster Robert "DiB" DiBernardo. “I was in jail when I whacked him,” Gotti says on the tapes.
“Every crime that we charged, we had a tape that would cover that crime,” prosecutor Laura A. Ward says in the docuseries.
From the tapes played in court, Gravano realized that Gotti wanted him dead, so Gravano flipped and told the FBI that he tampered with a jury on Gotti’s behalf. On the stand, Gravano testified to multiple murders “with the assistance or approval” of Gotti, according to the docuseries.
How did John Gotti die? Sentencing and cause of death
On April 2, 1992, a jury found Gotti, then 51, guilty of the charges.
“Gotti did not flinch as the verdict was read, his face frozen in the half-smile he wore throughout the trial,” The Washington Post reported. “He looked at the jurors, but none met his gaze.”
Gotti died on June 10, 2002, while serving life in prison, after a battle with throat cancer. He was 61.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: John Gotti doc: Downfall of infamous 'Dapper Don' mafia boss revisited