Here's a myth that I think is laughable:


This has not been alleged on these boards, but I know a few people who actually believe that John Gotti was innocent. In fact, there's a fool on a local radio station who has been claiming it to be true for 10+ years. The trouble is that this radio personality has been spewing the same nonsensical allegations on a 50,000 watt station during drive time.

The state and federal government tried for years to put John Gotti away. Before he planned to whack Big Paul, Gotti's crew was dealing heroin, which was punishable by death according to Castellano. Big Paul referred to selling drugs as a violations of his first commandment: "If you deal, you die." Gotti's brother, Quack-Quack Ruggierio, and his crew were on wiretaps dealing heroin. John Gotti managed to keep his name away from law enforcement for the drug trafficking, but informants told cops that the crew would not be dealing without John's authorization.

Then the myth was magnified in the three trials when Gotti was found not guilty. Gotti, who had already done a prison stint for murder, was regarded by some as a persecuted target. It was not known until much later, but there was one juror who was bought to return a not guilty verdict in at least one case. Of course, it did not hurt that Gotti had a very talented and intense attorney named Bruce Cutler, who routinely destroyed the credibility of witnesses against Gotti. In another trial, it was obvious that the star witness was intimidated to recant his original charges. The witness testified that he "forgot" who beat him and that he would not testify against John Gotti. The case was dismissed.

Gotti, more than what nearly all previous mobsters, did not shy away from the spotlight. In part to feed his massive ego, he worked on projecting and polishing his public persona much in the same manner a political candidate would. He appeared on Time magazine's cover, which is something that Carlo Gambino or Trafficante would have never even considered. Another example is Gotti would hold an extravagant 4th of July fireworks display near his mob headquarters, launching his own fireworks and hosting illegal gambling games in the neighborhood.

Gotti also had a bit of luck, which helped him beat the allegations against him in the first three trials. He had a police informant in the intelligence division who fed Gotti information. The mole, detective William Piest, was injured off the job and lost his leg in a 1984 car accident. Piest had a cousin who fed information to a mobster named George Helbig, who was in regular contact with Gotti. Piest helped blow surveillance bugs and helped the mob steal a handwritten indictment against Quack Quack. Piest serviced Gotti for approximately five years and earned $500 per week for his information.

Probably the biggest reason that some say Gotti was innocent because it was the testimony of another mobster, Sammy "the Bull" Gravano, that sent Gotti away for good. Sammy admitted to killing 19 men, including his own brother-in-law. But Sammy led the government through a step-by-step account of how Gotti planned and then executed the assassination of Paul Castellano and his bodyguard Tommy Bilotti. Gravano also corroborated murders that Gotti ordered, which were long suspected by the FBI. No doubt, Sammy was a rat. But the actions of Gravano do not lessen or negate the crimes that Gotti committed. I think that if the roles were reversed (Sammy was the Don & Gotti was the Underboss), then the government would have gladly taken the testimony to put away the Don of the most powerful crime family. I have never bought the argument that the feds were out to get Gotti, as much as they were out to get the head of Gambino Family, who just happened to be Gotti.