Prosecutors: Gotti Never Quit Mob

John Gotti Jr. runs into Manhattan federal court, Friday, March 10, 2006, in New York.
A prosecutor presented a Top 20 list of reasons John "Junior" Gotti never quit the mob, and his defense lawyer played taped conversations to prove he did, as they wrapped up arguments in Gotti's third racketeering trial on Monday.

Whether Gotti quit the mob is considered critical because he can win an acquittal if the jury concludes he left the mob before the summer of 1999 — that would mean the five-year statute of limitations had expired by the time prosecutors brought the current case.

If he is convicted of racketeering and ordering two assaults on the founder of the Guardian Angels, Gotti could face up to 30 years in prison. He is free on $7 million bail. Jury deliberations were to begin Tuesday.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Victor Hou created a Top 20 list, including allegations that Gotti continued communicating with Gambino colleagues and living off the millions of dollars he made as the crime family's street boss.

Hou then presented the jury with a picture of a bloody Guardian Angels shirt and again accused Gotti of ordering two 1992 attacks on radio talk show host Curtis Sliwa, who started the crime-fighting group.

"Picture yourself in the cab having to fight just to save your life," he said of the attack, which occurred after Sliwa's on-air criticism of Gotti's father, John Gotti, who died in prison in 2002.

Hou urged jurors to "follow the money" to a conviction and then described how Gotti continued to benefit from finances earned through mob crimes.

"You don't retire from the Mafia," Hou said. "You have all their secrets."

When Hou finished, defense lawyer Charles Carnesi got in the last word, saying his client left the mob and never looked back.

He said jurors could find evidence in tapes of Gotti's prison conversations in which he said he wanted nothing to do with mob life anymore.

"Is he in danger today?" Carnesi asked the jury, suggesting Gotti might face retaliation for announcing that he had quit the mob.

"I don't know," the lawyer said. "But I do know his commitment to his wife, his children and his family is stronger than any fear he has."

Earlier, Hou referenced Gotti's two earlier trials, which ended in deadlocked juries.

"You may be asking yourself why we are doing this again," the prosecutor said. "Very simple: Nobody is above the law."