Another polarizing figure in the world of the Mafia is John Gotti. John is either the worst mob boss of all time or the second coming of Al Capone. There is no in-between with him. Well with most people anyway. John is a Bronx kid. His family moved to Brooklyn because the neighborhood they live in was too rough. They were also a very poor family. This seemed to drive John once he grew up. John supposedly complained about how little his father did to support the family.
From the time he was 12, John was hanging out with the boys. He would run errands for a local club that was run by his future capo Carmine Fatico. He dove into a life of crime feet first. Actually when he was 14 he crushed his toes while trying to steal a cement mixer. During his teen years he also met his future mentor Mr. Neil, Neil Dellacroce. John joined the Fulton-Rockaway Boys where he specialized in robberies and car-jackings. By the time John turned 21 he had been arrested 5 times but spent little time in jail.
In 1962, now 22 years old, John marries 17 year old Victoria. They already had one child (Angel) and had another on the way. He tried his hand at legitimate jobs to be a better family man but that didn’t last long.
Gotti went back to being a full time criminal and did well for himself. He became a major player in the Gambino hijacking crew. He gained respect in that world. He had so much respect that in 1971 after being released from prison, he was made acting capo of Fatico’s crew while he served time on a loan-sharking charge. At this point John didn’t even have his button yet.
Gotti moved up quickly in the Gambino family and this is where I believe most of the differing opinions start to take place. As now a full-fledged capo, his crew got involved in dealing heroin. If anyone doesn’t think John was aware of this, I’ve got a bridge to sell you. He knew but guess what. The mob deals in heroin. This is not breaking news. The deal and die edict is a load of crap. In reality the edict was, get caught dealing and die. The problem is that they got caught. We don’t need to get into all that. You know the story. Quack Quack and the electronics expert.
So now Big Paul Castellano wants to get rid of Gotti and his crew. In more recent times when something like this happened, the guys flipped. Not John. John took matters into his own hands and had Big Paul killed. But this is against the rules! You can’t kill a boss without Commission approval! On paper, maybe so, in reality, it happens. As a matter of fact, in the lineage of what is now the Gambino family, it happened a couple of times. Albert Anastasia took out his boss and sweet old Don Carlo was involved in taking out his boss. Then of course there was Genovese’s failed attempt on Frank Costello. I don’t understand why Gotti gets so much flack about this. He did the right thing.
Was Gotti the best boss in the world? No. He left the family with shoddy leadership. He meant well and he had respect but he wasn’t prepared in the event that he got put away for a long period of time.
Was Gotti the worst boss in the world? Also no. Off the top of my head I would say the tandem of Amusso and Casso have to go down with that title. John shouldn’t have drawn so much attention to himself but he was who he was.
So people give John a break but also don’t treat him like a messiah.