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Mistrial Declared In Gotti Case

The judge in the John A. "Junior" Gotti racketeering case declared a mistrial on the most serious charges Tuesday after the jury said it was hopelessly deadlocked.

After eight days of deliberations, the jury said it could agree on only one count and acquitted Gotti, son of the late Mafia boss John Gotti, of conspiracy to commit securities fraud. That verdict will stand if there is a retrial in the case.

U.S. District Judge Shira Scheindlin declared a mistrial on the remaining counts, which included an allegation that Gotti plotted the kidnapping of Curtis Sliwa, the founder of the Guardian Angels crime-fighting group.

Scheindlin discharged the jury after it indicated for the second straight day that it was unable to reach a decision about the bulk of the case.

Gotti faced a sentence of up to 30 years in prison if convicted of multiple racketeering charges. His father was sentenced to life in prison in 1992 and died there 10 years later.

Prosecutors told the judge that they would seek to retry Gotti.

Defense attorneys asked that Gotti be released on bail. Scheindlin said she was likely to grant the request, drawing applause from Gotti's supporters.

Gotti was smiling in the courtroom after it was announced the trial had ended. He hugged one of his co-defendants and his lawyers.

"This case, what's left of it, is a limping wreck," said Gotti's lawyer, Jeffrey Lichtman, predicting that Gotti would be free on bail within days.

"John is very pleased. He's going to be home very shortly with his children, which is all he's talked about for the last year."

The jury did not reach a decision in one of the most serious racketeering allegations against Gotti, an allegation that he ordered his Gambino crew to give Sliwa, a WABC radio host, a severe beating in retaliation for his on-air rants against his father.

A masked hit-man shot Sliwa during a struggle in a taxi. Sliwa survived, and he testified last month, as did admitted mobsters who pleaded guilty and became government cooperators.

The defense told jurors that Gotti had nothing to do with the Sliwa attack and said he retired from the Gambinos following an unrelated racketeering conviction in 1999. Prosecutors dismissed the claim, saying Gotti used his name to rise in the crime organization and gave orders and collected kickbacks beyond 1999.

The declaration of a mistrial followed a period of confusion in the courtroom over where jurors stood on some of the charges.

Jurors left blank much of the verdict sheet they had been instructed to fill out, leaving Scheindlin puzzled over their findings.

"We're somewhere between a hung jury and an acquittal. They did not say guilty or not guilty," she told lawyers after examining the form.

Lawyers huddled privately with the judge before she decided to send the jury home.

Previously, jurors had sent a note, indicating they were deadlocked over Gotti's claim that he quit the Gambino organized crime family years ago. If the jurors were to believe Gotti's claims about leaving the mob, the five-year statute of limitations would have expired on racketeering charges.

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