'Junior' Gotti Savors Mistrial

**FILE** John A. "Junior" Gotti leaves the federal court in White Plains, N.Y., in this Feb. 11, 1999 photo. Gotti, the son of the late Gambino boss John Gotti, is accused of plotting the botched kidnapping of radio talk show host and Guardian Angels founder Curtis Sliwa,part of racketeering charges that could keep him in prison for up to 30 years. (AP Photo/Shawn Baldwin-File) AP

The jailed son of late mob boss John Gotti savored on Wednesday a mistrial that was expected to give him his freedom and possibly an acquittal on charges he engineered the botched kidnapping of a radio show host.

John A. "Junior" Gotti, who has been behind bars since 1999, could be free on bail by the middle of next week, his attorney, Jeffrey Lichtman, said Wednesday. After declaring a mistrial on Tuesday on the bulk of the racketeering case against the scion of the Gambino organized crime family, Judge Shira Scheindlin said, "The man is entitled to bail."

She also signaled she would enter a not guilty verdict on the most serious racketeering charge — the alleged plot to kidnap Curtis Sliwa, a WABC-AM host and founder of the Guardian Angels crime-fighting group.

"I think the calculation has changed," the judge told prosecutors at the close of the trial. "I think there is uncertainty about whether (the racketeering charge) can go forward."

In a partial verdict reached after eight days of deliberations in federal court in Manhattan, a jury acquitted Gotti, 41, on a single securities fraud charge.

Though the anonymous jurors failed to reach a verdict on the top racketeering count, they indicated on a verdict sheet that the government had not proved Gotti was guilty in the Sliwa plot and other schemes — an outcome that will become the basis of a defense motion demanding the judge enter a not guilty verdict.

Scheindlin told lawyers that if the government appealed a not guilty verdict, "We could be talking two more years" before Gotti could go to trial again.

In a statement, U.S. Attorney Michael Garcia said only that his office was "evaluating further proceedings."
  • Jaclyn Schiff

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