Jan 16 2009
NEW YORK — Mob scion John A. “Junior” Gotti should stay behind bars while awaiting trial on charges he was involved in three gangland murders and cocaine trafficking, a judge ruled Thursday.
The charges against Gotti “are serious,” U.S. District Judge Kevin Castel said at the conclusion of a hearing in Manhattan federal court. “They provide a motive to flee.”
It was the first court appearance for Gotti in the city since his latest criminal case was transferred from Tampa, Fla., where a racketeering indictment against him was unsealed last year. Gotti, looking fit and upbeat, smiled broadly at his younger brother in the audience and pumped his fist as he entered the courtroom.
“I feel good,” the 44-year-old son of late Gambino crime family boss John Gotti said when the judge asked if he was prepared to decide whether to keep his lawyer.
The judge warned that the defense attorney, Charles Carnesi, had a potential conflict because investigators had recorded conversations between them that they say were suspicious. But Gotti insisted on sticking with “Charlie,” who represented him in two of three previous trials in 2005 and 2006 that ended with hung juries and mistrials.
“We developed a bond,” Gotti said. “He did his job. He was loyal to me.”
Carnesi, who won bail for Gotti in the earlier trials, argued that the new allegations were based on mob turncoats who were lying to protect themselves. He said Gotti wanted to be free to help prepare his defense.
“He’s not a flight risk or a danger,” Carnesi said. “He’s a fighter.”
Prosecutor Elie Honig countered that, unlike in the previous cases, Gotti faces charges that could land him in prison for life.
“He’s now an accused triple murderer and cocaine kingpin,” Honig said.
An indictment accused Gotti of being involved in three slayings in the late 1980s and early 1990s and possessing and trafficking more than 5 kilograms of cocaine.
Honig called Gotti’s claim that he retired from the mob long ago a “fabrication” and said he was still living off a misbegotten fortune. He claimed investigators have recordings of other Gambinos mocking the so-called withdrawal defense used in the earlier trials.
“That’s funny,” he quoted one as saying. “He kept taking money.”
Gotti’s father died behind bars in 2002 while serving a life term for racketeering and murder.
John ‘Junior’ Gotti is denied bail in NY court – By TOM HAYS – 16.01.2009 – Associated Press Writer – This story was found at: http://www.miamiherald.com/news/florida/AP/story/855699.html